By Caroline Kirby
Beekeeping and leasing land to beekeepers is the growing trend for many vacant landowners and farmers. Whether you’re looking to pollinate your crops or you just have a piece of land that you’re not using, leasing to beekeepers may be a productive and sustainable option that even has some tax benefits to boot.
How does leasing land to beekeepers work?
In the last decade, beekeeping has qualified as an Agricultural Exemption that can save landowners a lot of money in property taxes. The great thing about qualifying for this special valuation is you don’t even have to be the one doing the work – you just need to lease your land to a beekeeper or a commercial beekeeping operation if you have the space.
There are many websites and online forums where you can match with beekeeping operations in your area. So, why do it?
Why should I lease my land to beekeepers?
Bees are a vital part of the environment and food supply chain in North America and across the globe, as they pollinate our crops.
Over the years, commercial bee colonies have collapsed at an alarming rate due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has been linked to the use of pesticides on crops. Beekeepers need healthy forage land to be able to rebuild colonies after crop pollination.
When you lease your land for beekeeping, you’re helping beekeepers grow their business, making your land productive, helping farmers pollinate crops, and even contributing to supporting our global ecosystem.
What do beekeepers need on their leased land?
The most important thing beekeepers need to do their job is space. While bees can be found in urban, suburban, and rural areas, there are some specific types of land which are more suitable for bees and beekeeping than others.
Factors that may influence the productivity of land for beekeeping includes:
• Forage: Bees need diverse and abundant food sources. You’ll want an area with plenty of flowers in bloom.
• Water: : Your land should have a proper water source nearby so that the bees don’t spend too much energy flying far. Bees love small ponds or creeks but are notorious for being drawn to “dirty” water sources like hot tubs or swimming pools.
• Climate: While American honeybees have done well in adapting to their climate, the weather in your area will impact when flowers and plants bloom and if these tiny creatures can survive winter.
• Nearby beekeeping: Honeybees are known to rob other colonies, which can devastate and deplete resources as well as spread disease. Do some research to ensure that any neighboring colonies are adequately spaced out.
Each of these factors can impact how the bees live and produce. Open meadowland near wetland is the ideal location for beekeeping, while an area surrounded by forests and trees isn’t as effective and can hinder honey production and the ability to pollinate.
North Dakota, Montana, and California are the top three honey-producing states and are often associated with more productive beekeeping. Browse through Land Hub’s current listings to purchase property for beekeeping in one of these states, or put your own land up for sale!
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by Laura Mueller
Florida is one of the most popular states for people looking to invest in raw land, and for good reason. In addition to having plenty of land for sale, Florida ranks right in the middle when it comes to property tax rates (0.89%, compared to the 1% and up you’ll tend to find as you move further up the east coast). It’s also undeniably beautiful, with something for everyone in terms of land use potential.
If you’re familiar with the Sunshine State, then you’re probably well aware of the many differences between the Peninsula in the south and the Panhandle in the north. And while both offer quite a bit of opportunity for land buyers, there are some major differences that you’ll want to keep in mind when deciding where to invest.
Before you buy land in Florida, take a look at this quick breakdown of what the north and south have to offer so that you can narrow down your search and find your perfect property.
The Florida Peninsula is beachy, flat, and full of tourists. It’s also what a lot of people tend to think of first when they think of the state, since it’s where you’ll find trendy vacation spots like Miami and St. Petersburg, as well as the Everglades at the southern tip and Disneyworld further north.
Fortunately for land buyers, the southern part of the state isn’t all swamps and hotels. There is an abundance of land for sale in the area, including opportunities for citrus farming. Do keep in mind however that the Florida Peninsula is as flat as it gets, capping out at a mere 12 feet above sea level at its highest point. Likewise, while land is plentiful it’s also limited in size, usually to around 10 acres or less.
North Florida—a.k.a. the Florida Panhandle—stretches for about 200 miles right at the north-west corner of the state. It might not have the hip reputation of the Peninsula, but it is home to Tallahassee, which is Florida’s 8th largest city and the state’s capitol.
Travel around the Panhandle and you may feel more like you’re in the Deep South than a beachy paradise. But that doesn’t mean it’s not rife with opportunity for land buyers. Fewer people means larger plots of land for sale, and you’ll also find a much higher and hillier terrain (though at 345 feet above sea level, its highest point is still the lowest of any state).
The Panhandle is the place to go for land investors looking for ranch land or timberland. And with the Gulf of Mexico never more than 100 miles away, there’s ample opportunity to enjoy a sandy getaway when you get the urge.
Find Land for Sale in Florida
North or South, if you’re ready to buy land in Florida then you’ll have a lot of available properties to choose from. We recommend working with an experienced real estate agent in your desired location, since their familiarity with the area will ensure you get exactly what you’re looking for.
Begin your search today by browsing land for sale in Florida. From beaches to ranches and Peninsula to Panhandle, you’re sure to find just the right fit.
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By Caroline Kirby
There are over 600 ski resorts across North America with over 100,000 acres of slopes to shred. However, a majority of these resorts are owned by a handful of corporations and holding companies — five to be exact: KSL/Aspen, Vail Resorts, Powdr Corp, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, and EPR Properties. Many of these companies’ reach extends far beyond North America, but for the sake of this article, we will focus on the region.
You can see a comprehensive list of who owns which resort in the U.S. from the National Ski Areas Association.
Do companies own the land that ski resorts are on?
This is where things get a little tricky. While ski resorts typically don’t own the actual land, there are various different ownership structures that define ski resorts. In the United States specifically, some of the most common structures include:
• Mountain is owned entirely by the resort
• Mountain is federal land such as the U.S. Forest Service.
• Combination of public and private land.
When ski resorts don’t own their land, they pay rent or a yearly permit which is calculated as a percentage of their gross income. In the U.S., most ski resorts are operating under lease agreements with the U.S. Forest Service or other government organizations. In recent years, many resorts have received approvals for expansions directly from the USFS, which has many environmental and local community activists concerned.
Purchasing, running, and maintaining a ski resort is expensive. You’re paying to buy or lease the land, investing in extremely expensive equipment, staff to run it, and thanks to climate change, many popular resorts rely fully on snowmaking machines as annual snowfall is rapidly decreasing.
These are just some of the contributing factors which have led to mom-and-pop ski areas having to close or turn to community-led non-profits to keep their doors open.
How do the big-name resorts operate?
In North America, Vail and Whistler are two of the most known resorts, and in this article from The Atlantic, they point out that they make most of their money from lodging, rentals, and food. That’s why avid skiers will see more and more destination resorts thriving while the smaller shops that tend to serve local communities have to close their doors for good.
What is the future of ski resorts in the U.S.?
Ski resorts across the country are facing some hard truths. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, rising temperatures and melting snow, and the fall of local ski resorts and shops to big-name conglomerates, many aren’t sure what to expect from future ski seasons in the United States. If you’re looking ahead in the short term, Condé Nast Traveler wrote a great piece on what to expect when hitting the slopes during COVID.
As you head out on fall getaways and winter break in the coming weeks, it may be interesting to do a little investigating yourself to see who owns the resorts you visit. Do you know the history of the land you’re skiing on?
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by Caroline Kirby
Waterfront property is a dream for many, but it’s not as straightforward a process as purchasing other types of property; in fact, there are some special considerations that many first-time buyers have never even considered.
If you’re looking for the perfect lakefront property to purchase before summer starts, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. Lakefront property is a great investment most of the time, and having access to endless fun activities is great, but not all that glitters is gold. Here’s a quick look at the special considerations of purchasing a lakefront property.
Things to keep in mind when looking for lakefront property
Waterfront property is a dream for many, and while the price tag itself is enough to scare many away, there are plenty of other variables that can complicate this type of transaction. Don’t make these mistakes when looking for your first waterfront property!
• Consider all the fun stuff in your budgeting: A lakehouse is a lot of fun, but a majority of the activities won’t come cheap. Boating, water skiing, tubing, and all the safety equipment are separate costs that many buyers don’t consider when looking for a lakefront property. Look at the different gear costs and if that works for your budget.
• Ensure the house is built to stand up to the waterfront: Homes on the water take on much more abuse than a regular home. Extra moisture, flooding, etc., can all take a toll on these properties. Keep an eye out for homes that have features like storm shutters and taller foundations that will protect these properties from the weather. Plus, all of the amenities and hobby items will also have wear-and-tear expenses.
• Don’t forget about flood insurance: Depending on where you live, you likely haven’t considered flood insurance when purchasing regular properties. This can be expensive! Get a quote from a qualified insurance provider before making any offers on lakefront property. Additionally, there are real estate agents that specialize in waterfront property who can help put you in touch with the right insurers.
• The land may be leased: It’s pretty common that houses on the water come with a lease. Federal entities like the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers or even power companies often own the property on or around the lake, and they may lease the shoreline where lake houses are built. Buying property in these areas may mean that you’ll inherit a lease of the land.
• Start looking for loans early on: Because waterfront properties are so expensive, you’ll want to start the loan process sooner rather than later. Waterfront home loans are much more different than normal home loans.
• Consider the location: You may think you’ll just be happy to have a house on the water but think about the orientation of the home and what you want. Will you get morning or afternoon sun? Does the deck have sun protection? Does the wind coming off of the lake affect your level of enjoyment? These don’t have to be factors that make or break a purchase, but they are worth considering before making any offers.
There’s a lot to consider when buying any property, but it’s important to recognize the uniqueness of lakefront properties. Take a look at Land Hub’s current lakefront listings to see what properties are out there today!
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by Caroline Kirby
Sustainability has been somewhat of a buzzword over the last few years, but when it comes to certain areas, like agriculture, the two go hand in hand. Agriculture, while important and necessary, “places great pressure on natural resources and the environment.” NIFA, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), goes on to explain that sustainable agriculture is the practice intended to protect the environment while expanding the Earth’s natural resource base and maintaining soil fertility.
Sustainable agriculture is important for various reasons, but perhaps the most notable being that this practice can lead to long-term results like protecting the environment, preserving agricultural systems, and producing in accordance with human needs.
Getting Started with Sustainable Farming Practices
Sustainable farming (also referred to as sustainable agriculture and sustainable ag) is “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application” according to U.S. agricultural law.
The most important thing to know about getting started with a sustainable small farm is to have realistic expectations. Sustainable farming is a marathon, not a sprint, and results won’t be apparent overnight.
Here are some places to get started so that you set your sustainable farm up for success.
1. Tap into your networks and resources: Whether you’re new to farming or have a history, there are tons of resources for farmers looking to get into sustainable practices. Dig into your local community and regional organizations as well as national associations like SARE, USDA, and even financial institutions that offer financial resources and grants for farmers.
2. Focus on skill-building: It doesn’t matter if your farm is going to be a full-time lifestyle or a hobby farm; you’ll want to invest in yourself and your skillset. Read, listen to podcasts, see if you can help out on a neighboring farm before diving into your own so you can get a feel for some of the common issues you may run into and how you can address them. This will save you time, money and give you a better feel for what’s going down on your land.
3. Plan a management system: Another key characteristic of farming is the ability to be flexible, but that doesn’t mean you should go in without a plan. Developing some sort of management plan, whether you’re designating tasks or enlisting the help of professionals, will help take some of the pressure off of yourself and ensure things run smoothly.
4. Create a production plan: Look at factors such as climate, rainfall, soil type, production quantity and duration, land size, and methods to help devise the most practical operation for the resources available to you.
5. Assess and update when needed: Plans are great, but it’s also important to continuously monitor performance and make updates when necessary. Regular monitoring can help you optimize your production and make updates that will benefit your farm.
By adopting sustainable farming practices, you can support yourself, your community, protect natural resources, and leave your land better than you found it. If you’re new to the practice, don’t try to go it alone — visit other farms, build up your network, and follow proven results! Read to find the perfect piece of land for your sustainable farm? Check out Land Hub’s listings.
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by Laura Mueller
Getting a land appraisal is an important step in both buying and selling land, since it provides both parties (as well as the bank) with an accurate idea of what the sale price should be. But how do land appraisers figure out what land is worth?
Like with residential real estate, appraisers look at a number of key factors to price out a piece of land, including its features, condition, and how it compares to the properties around it. However, appraising land does have some unique differences from appraising a home, and it can be helpful to know what they are if you’re getting ready to sell—or if you’re a buyer trying to get a land loan.
Here’s what to expect during a land appraisal, including the unique factors that appraisers take into account.
The Land Appraisal Process
A land appraisal generally takes anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on the availability of an appraiser and the size and scope of the property.
The goal of the appraiser is to determine the maximum price and use potential of the land. This determination takes into consideration what the land is currently used for, as well as how it could possibly be used in the future. A large piece of vacant land, for example, may be worth well more than it appears at first glance if it’s suitable for future residential or commercial development.
A thorough appraisal is done in a number of steps, starting with research of the property and its surrounding area. What is it zoned for? Are there any major restrictions on the land? Is it in a flood zone? All of these considerations are essential for an accurate appraisal, even before an appraiser sets foot on the property.
Next up is a physical inspection. This inspection, plus the previously-completed research, is how an appraiser will figure out what the best potential use of the property is.
This will be followed by looking at comps, which the appraiser will use to make adjustments to the land’s value based on similar properties around it.
Last is an appraisal report. This tells the buyer, seller, and the bank what the true value of the property is assumed to be—and why.
Factors That Affect Land Value
An appraiser takes many factors into account when pricing out land, including these three big ones:
• Usable acres – Not all acres are usable acres. An appraiser will look beyond the raw acreage of a property and figure out how much of the land can actually be utilized for its maximum use purpose based on topography and zoning, among other things.
• Location – Better locations equal higher prices. If the land is located somewhere with a lot of promise in terms of profit or use potential, that will play a large role in determining its price.
• Improvements – Improvements, including utilities and access roads, drive up the value of a piece of land. This is understandable, since these are high-cost features that often must be put in place in order for the land to achieve its best use.
A comprehensive appraisal is always a necessity. Before you list land for sale or close on a land deal as a buyer, get one done so that you know the price of a property is in line with what it’s really worth.
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