1. Sufficient Field Experience
The laws and paperwork for purchasing land may not be the same as for purchasing a residence. You may not know them, but your agent should understand them completely.
“You’re trusting the real estate agent with their experience, just like you’d trust an attorney, surveyor or anyone,” says Slade Priest, a Realtree United Country Land Pro. “They need to have the experience to protect you and know what questions to ask. Does the hunting lease that’s on the place expire at the time of the sale? Will all of these deer stands stay? If not, let’s make sure they do when we make an offer. What about these obscure property lines? We need to get a survey. These are the types of questions an experienced agent asks.”
2. Good Eyes and Ears
Are you looking for a farm to fill the freezer? Want to line the wall with trophy bucks? Just need a place to get the family outdoors? It’s important that an agent asks you these things, determines what your goals are and then searches diligently to check all the boxes. Properties need good food sources, water, bedding areas, and entry and exit routes at minimum. Depending on your objectives, a farm could even need more.
“You need an agent who can listen to what your end goal is on the property. If you tell me what you’re looking for, I know what boxes a property needs to check,” Priest says. But don’t assume the perfect property is out there. Few pieces of hunting land will have every single feature you want. It might take sweat equity to add what’s missing.
“If you can get four out of five boxes, you better take the property,” Priest adds. “Because sometimes, finding a property that checks all of them can be hard to get.”
During your search, pay attention to what your agent does and does not do. Better yet, before you jump on board, ask him what things he’ll do during the search for your dream farm. Priest and I talked while he was on his way to run trail cameras on a property listing. You should find an agent who’s willing to do what it takes to ensure the property you’re investing in is the right one. And if they aren’t all in, take your business elsewhere.
3. Knowledge of the Area
The ability to obtain and use local knowledge is important. Real estate agents need to be in tune with not only the landowners but also what deer hunters are tagging on those tracts of land. You don’t want to invest in a piece of property that has a terrible age structure due to years of mismanagement.
“I’m not saying someone has to live in an area,” Priest says. “But they need to know the people. In the counties where I work, whenever you look at a piece of land, I can usually tell you whether that landowner only shoots 4-year-olds and kills one or two deer a year on a thousand acres. Or, I can advise you not to buy that hunting club, because they shoot everything.”
4. Rapport with the Locals
Landowners are often picky about who they sell their land to, especially those who’ve held a property for many generations. If that farmer doesn’t respect your real estate agent, chances are he’ll sell to another buyer. And if another hunter is selling his hunting grounds, it’s just as important for an agent to have good rapport with him.
“When I talk about hunting with someone, we’re usually serious deer hunters,” Priest says. “We look at the wind every morning when we get up. We’re checking trail cameras. I think if you’re a super-serious deer hunter, you need the agent to be a super-serious deer hunter.”
Furthermore, you don’t need an agent telling you a property is great for whitetails if it isn’t. A quality agent won’t feed you a line of bull just to make a sale. A true land pro takes pride in each transaction and makes sure it’s tailormade for the buyer’s goals.
5. Weekly Availability
“A great agent is going to be a busy agent,” Priest says. “He can only answer so many calls and e-mails each day. You need to be the squeaky wheel, because the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
In other words, once you’ve found the right agent, stay on him. Great agents will be working with numerous sellers and buyers simultaneously. Keep their contact information on speed dial, and use it regularly until you’ve signed on the dotted line.
6. Bonus: Seller’s Appeal
Are you trying to sell your land? If it’s a good piece of hunting ground, you need an agent who appeals to other hunters. That might seem inconsequential, but it’s important that an agent truly understands hunting. Having an agent who can market your property to hunters greatly expands the range of potential buyers. Find an agent who loves to hunt as much as you do, and you’re well on your way to buying – or selling – that dream farm.