Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How Far Have Land Prices Fallen?

A close friend and client of mine ask me the other day… ‘How Far Have Land Prices Dropped?’   Well, that’s sort of a loaded question. You heard of the old adage location, location, location…well that applies here as well. What I can tell you, there are trends and the counties or areas where the prices went the highest had the furthest to fall. In other words, the bigger the bubble, the bigger the pop. The huge bubbles where primarily caused by speculation in the market and those counties where the development was occurring experienced the largest % drops. Prices went up because developers were buying property and causing increases in sale prices as seen in the Harris County numbers. Harris County is a bedroom community for Columbus, Georgia. Meriwether and Talbot County sales were primarily made up of recreational and timberland sales.  Now let’s look at some specifics. I primarily work in the west central Georgia area so I picked some counties that I work in, Harris, Meriwether and Talbot as my sample. Following is a chart showing prices for 2007, 2010 and the percent drop in prices.

2007 $/Acre
2010 $/Acre
% Difference
   These are my best estimate of average county prices. These prices were calculated using information gathered from courthouse, appraisers etc. Individual sales data can vary widely.
   You heard the saying ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’, well that is exactly what happened.  Hopefully we have found the bottom, and now we can start moving some real property at fair prices!!
For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at      (706) 457-0090

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Am Planning to Thin My Timber…..What Do I Need To Know?

To start with, I would engage the services of a Registered Forester. I prefer to remove every fifth row and thin in between leaving a residual basal area of 70-75 square feet of dominant and co-dominant trees. Generally you would be leaving about 200 – 225 trees per acre. You only get one chance at this and you cannot put the trees back after they are cut, so do it right !!  All intermediate cuttings are designed to improve the value and quality of the trees in the final harvest. Generally, there are 2 thinnings then a final cut. The first thinning is done about age 15. You will remove 25-35 tons leaving about 40-50 tons per acre. This will generate $225-$275 per acre. The second thinning will be done about age 21-22. You will remove 30-35 tons per acre leaving 45-55 tons per acre, this will generate $425-$475 per acre. The final harvest will remove 75-85 tons per acre generating $2000-$2600 per acre.

The numbers mentioned above are average numbers from a 275,000 acre land base in the Southeast. Actual numbers can vary depending on site index and local market prices.

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at      (706) 457-0090

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Does Your Realtor Own LAND?

Here is some background information. I had bought 25 acres in Harris County in 2003 with the intent to retire and build a house in the middle of the property. Plans changed...I moved to Harris County and started a real estate career. I decided to sale the land. I paid $75,000 for the land I sold  a portion in 2006 and the balance in 2007. Total sales price was $262,500 excluding some survey cost and closing cost.

Now the rest of the story..... I was working with a client a couple of years ago looking for some replacement property in a 1031 tax-deferred exchange. He looked at me and ask 'Do you own any land?'  I said no. I had been looking passively. I decided it was time to get on the ball. Soon after, I purchased 52 acres of timberland and recreational property in Johnson County. I just negotiated a 'timber contract' for the first thinning.

Realtors like myself are always telling folks what a wonderful investment LAND is. If you really believe in the product you are trying to sale, then you will personally invest in that product.  Next time you are with your Realtor, Ask them if they own any LAND?

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090 

Friday, November 18, 2011

THE FLINT RIVER.......Where does the water come from? Where does it go?

The Flint River headwaters start in East Point in Fulton County and runs under the runways at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. The river drains a watershed containing 8,460 square miles. The river is 344 miles long and flows through Sprewell Bluff State Park and then thru Albany. It drains into Lake Seminole where it joins the Chattahoochee River.

According to the Flint River Keepers (www.flintriverkeepers.org) there are many people and groups needing this precious resource. The #1 user is agriculture using approx. 2.3 billion gallons per day during the 6 month growing season. There are 24,000 permits state wide for irrigation. I would like to point out that pivot irrigation is a very wasteful way to irrigate crops. Much of the water is lost to evaporation. A more efficient way is the use of pipes and ditches. The #2 consumer are  power plants and #3 are the municipalities along the river. Our future and ability to prosper as a nation is based on the amount and availability of clean water. If you don't believe this...look at Africa. (Disclaimer...this info was provided by the Flint River Keepers.

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF    at                   (706) 457-0090  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do Powerlines and Transmission Lines Impact Value?

I have been asked this questions many times and I do not have an exact answer. Research has shown that 1)The biggest disadvantage of owning a home near these high voltage transmission lines is the “fear factor” associated with Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF’s). 2) Houses values are about 5-10% below comparable property and the property stays on the market about 62 days longer!
 Related to land, I believe the impacts can be much worse. To begin with, one should assess how much of the property is impacted by the powerline or transmission line i.e. if 50% of the property is covered by the powerline, the value would be affected more drastically then a powerline that barely nips the corner. Because property is generally purchased for aesthetic purposes, powerlines can be a real eye sore.
If the property is being purchased for commercial purposes, the powerline might not be a factor. I have seen powerlines across recreational property that made some pretty nice food plots and shooting lanes !!

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why are there different types of deeds?

Here is a general list of different type of Deeds:
            General Warranty Deed-A general warranty deed is a type of deed where the grantor (seller) guarantees that he or she holds clear title to a piece of real estate and has a right to sell it to you. The guarantee is not limited to the time the grantor owned the property—it extends back to the property's origins.
            Limited Warranty Deed-deed that only warrants the title for the limited time in which the seller owned the property. In other words, a Limited Warranty Deed is a deed in which the property transferred is warranted to be free of all liens and encumbrances made by or through the Grantor, but not otherwise. If you are selling property you should try to only provide a Limited Warranty Deed to limit your potential liability.

            Quit Claim Deed-Quitclaim deeds transfer or "quit" any interest in real property. The grantor may not be in title at all, so the grantee cannot assume that the grantor has any real interest to convey. Commonly used in divorce settlements and to clear up encroachments etc.
Security Deed - This deed is used, rather than a mortgage, to give a lender a security interest in the property. A security deed, as opposed to a mere mortgage, passes legal title to the land while reserving unto the debtor the equitable title to use and enjoy the conveyed land subject to compliance with debt obligations.

To view my listings visit AllSouthLandandHomes.com If you have questions about  Buying or Selling LAND contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at   (706) 457-0090 

Timberland......Who Owns All The Timberland?

A recent case study reveals some interesting facts and trends:
  • In 2000 forest products companies owned about 20% of privately owned timberland, 36 million was in the Southeast. By 2010 much of these holdings had changed hands.
  • The top 10 companies owned 38.7 million acres in 2000. After a historic divestiture that number dropped to 21.5 million acres. Four of the top five are Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), tax advantaged entities with timberland as their prinicipal business.
  • Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMOs) purchased many of the acres sold.
  • Timberland prices also increased over the period. Nation wide prices averaged $800 per acre in 2000. Prices peaked in 2007 at $1,800 per acre. By 2010 prices had fallen back to 2006 levels.
For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090 

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    How Do I Go About SELLING MY TIMBER?

    1.Hire a Registered Forester or Consultant to Help With the Planning and Sale of Your Timber
    2. Develop a Forest Management Plan- Properly managed forests yield more timber, have a higher net present value 
    3. Pre-Harvest Planning - Pre-harvest planning will ensure that your forest management objectives and goals are not compromised. It will reduce opportunities for misunderstandings between you and the buyer 

    4. Determine a Selling Method - Timber is generally sold by one of two methods: negotiation or sealed bid. You should seek the advice of your Register Forester or Consultant Forester to determine which method is best for you and your harvesting objective. 
    5. Have a Contract - A written contract is essential and will reduce surprises to both you and the buyer 
    6. Monitor the Harvest - You or your agent should frequently inspect the harvesting operation to ensure the contract terms are being fulfilled.

    For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090  

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    I just bought some land! .... should I allocate my cost ?

       Wow! It finally happened! You are now the proud owner of some woodland acres. Like most new owners, you cannot wait to enjoy the property. Therefore, you pull on your boots, file the sale papers and head for the woods. This is what all too often happens when a new owner
    takes title to forestland. However, you should place the joys of ownership on hold for one very important determination. A new owner should first determine the original basis, or value, of all merchantable and unmerchantable timber at the time of acquisition. Before explaining the basis in detail, let's quickly see why it’s so important. If you conduct a timber sale and receive income your  basis, for that portion of your timber sold, is deducted from the sale income before computing income tax. Since knowing your basis can reduce your tax bill, it’s very important to make the necessary calculations when you acquire woodland property!

       Merchantable timber is simply determined by cruising the timber and assigning Fair Market Value by a Registered Forester. Unmerchantable timber is a bit more complicated but is generally determined by a formula or discounting an anticipated cash flow aka Present Net Value.
       Subtract the cost of the timber from the total purchase price and assign that value to the bare land.
        Total Value = Timber Value + Bareland Value

    For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090  

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Choosing the right Realtor.....

    Most people use specialists at some time or another. Whether fixing your health or your car, we want to go to the person with the most knowledge! It would only make sense to do the same when investing in land. This is where you may want to consider someone who is a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute and has an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation.

    Choose a realtor that can provide aerial photography, topographic maps, GPS services and have a broad base knowledge about forestry, access and other topics critical to your important decision about making an investment in land!

    For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090 

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Governmental Powers

    Do you know the 4 governmental powers?  1) Taxation - gives gov't power to levy taxes to pay for public services and infrastructure 2) Police - gov't has the power to enforce the laws of the land  3) Escheat - gov't has the power to take land when the owner dies with no heirs (and will)  4) Eminent Domain - gov't has the power to take land for the purposes of the general public i.e. building an interstate. In some case this right has been extended to companies. i.e. construction of electric transmission lines, railroads etc.

    For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at                          (706) 457-0090