Specialization is a great thing. It is the reason we don't rely on an ear nose and throat specialist for a back adjustment, or hire a plumber to put a new roof on our house. Specialization is what differentiates one professional from another. It allows individuals to become proficient and efficient in particular segment of their respective industry, instead being overwhelmed by the nuances of an industry at large. In most cases these specializations are clearly defined by degrees, titles or certifications, however in real estate the lines often become a little blurry.
Statistics clearly support the assertion that it is best to work with a Realtor when buying or selling real estate. Realtors act as advocates for buyers and sellers to ensure that their best interests are protected, and ensure that the transaction process is handled correctly. In addition to their knowledge of the buying and selling process, Realtors also have very powerful marketing and analytical tools at their disposal that allow them to leverage their knowledge of local markets, to the benefit of both the buyer and seller alike.
So what really sets one agent apart from another? The answer is product knowledge, and properties are the product. Although no property is exactly alike, all properties fall into a general category or subset. These include categories such as: commercial industrial, commercial retail, commercial office, residential, vacant land, recreational properties, agricultural properties, ect. The list goes on. It is extremely rare to find a single real estate professional with expertise in each of these categories. It is important that as a buyer or seller you perform due diligence to partner with a professional who not only knows that market, but who can relate to your goals specifically. Rural real estate is no exception.
Buying Rural Real Estate:
As a buyer of rural real estate, it is very common to have something specific in mind. Perhaps your are looking for a home with a horse barn and pasture, maybe you are looking for the perfect piece of hunting land in or near a deer management cooperative, or it could be a piece of tillable investment property. These types unique attributes make rural properties like these less common, and therefore more difficult to locate and define. For a Realtor with limited knowledge of the desired property, it can be difficult to produce relevant properties for a buyer. In contrast, this is exactly reason I don't market my services to buyers looking for luxury vacation homes... I simply don't know enough about what I am looking for, to present my buyers with relevant options.
Before signing a Buyers Agency Agreement with a Realtor, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I plan to use the property for?
- Does my Realtor share my interest for these uses?
- Does my Realtor have relevant testimonials from other buyer clients?
- Is my Realtor familiar with the area they I plan to buy in?
- Does my Realtor have sufficient resources to help locate what I am looking for?
By answering the above questions, you should be able to adjust your focus, and narrow your field would be Realtors down to one or two. Once you have made your decision, sign a Buyers Agency Agreement, dust your boots off, and start touring some properties.
Selling Rural Real Estate:
When it comes to selling real estate, the options for professional representation are endless. For a Realtor a listing translates to a paycheck. Because of the acreage involved, outbuildings included and property features associated with rural real estate, this paycheck can at times be substantial. Although the lack of experience or passion for rural property should disqualify many real estate professionals from taking this type of listing, the idea of turning a willing and able seller away is simply inconceivable; as that would mean forfeiting any potential income that may come from a sale. For this reason most agents will scoop up any listing that they can get their hands on.
This may sound harsh, but the majority of Realtors representing rural acreage have no business doing so, and are very ill suited for such a task. If you need proof, take 10 minutes to do a search of acreage parcels on websites such as Zillow, Realtor.com or Trulia. You will quickly find that many of the listings have few poor quality photos (most taken at ground level or even from the road), and a very vague, generic "rural property" description. Something like: "Hunters paradise! This 5 acre property is a sportsman's dream. Cute Cabin and lots of wildlife. Don't miss out". Although they may have great intentions, they are doing a disservice to their seller by taking the listing in the first place.
These Realtors may even be highly qualified, "Top Producers", when it comes to selling condos or homes on a cull de sac, however this does always translate well when taking a listing outside of their general realm of expertise. Rural properties are an entirely different segment of real estate, that should be represented by a professional with a keen knowledge of this market specifically.
Your Realtor should know exactly what makes your property exceptional and how to capitalize on those qualities in their marketing material. For rural properties this marketing strategy should include quality aerial images taken using UAV technology, satellite images with estimated property lines, a video tour of the property, as well as a professionally written and detailed description of the property. Their marketing strategy should also be very targeted toward relevant buyers; utilizing various forms of digital media that appeal to sportsmen, farm operators and equestrian interests. As a seller you should not settle for anything less.
Specialization is everywhere, and in every industry, why would real estate be any different. As you consider the purchase or sale of rural real estate, take time to research various agents and brokerages. Be sure to work with Realtors who put a specific professional interest on the type of property you are buying or selling. You will not regret it.