Jeremiah Thompson teaches about verified sales data and carbon sequestration. This data is used at our annual “Lay of the Land Conference” to inform buyers and sellers on the rapidly-changing Florida market.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Listen above for the full podcast.
What do you do at SVN | SRD? One of the best things about this brokerage is we offer a lot of tools to our agents and staff to utilize. Within our mapping system, we have all kinds of layers and we can access all kinds of data that we can pull. We also have this “super engine” that captures all this data and allows us to see all the sales that are occurring in each county as they appear on the county record. So, we get to review them, pull all the data from them, then store and catalog them in our verified sales tab.
As I'm analyzing these properties, I’m trying to get a hold of all the landowners, appraisers, agents, or brokers who have brokered that deal and get the best information possible. That data is compiled into one place so that as agents and staff, we can get the whole picture in the mosaic of the properties that are selling. It's really neat to see how everything starts to tie together. This helps to forecast where trends are going. That's one of the biggest advantages that the verified sales team offers.
Why Florida? In tracking these large acreage land sales, we do it through all the commodities here in the state. Florida citrus, Florida timber, and farm properties. Florida is a huge agricultural state and we're one of the best in the nation. It's important to understand what's happening in that market so we can track those commodities and those types of properties that are selling.
Do most people want to share transaction details? Naturally, folks want their privacy, so we don't push them on that. If they don't want to share, we'll do the best we can to find a source that is familiar with the transaction. It's what I like to call, “a team effort” to really make sure that the sales are clean and that we get the best information possible. That goes throughout the appraiser network that all of our professionals here work with.
Why is this research important? Dean [Saunders], Gary [Ralston], and Todd [Dantzler] have an extensive network that they’ve built over their professional careers and really keeps us in front of the market. We get a lot of information before it hits public record. When we place deals under verified sales, we know it's a verified sale because we did it. That information is there, oftentimes months before the property appraiser will show. So, we can take that information to our clients and say, “Hey, we have the most up-to-date and most recent information for your property.” Then we can give them the best sales price for it.
The Florida market is changing so fast right now that the term of “going under contract” is now the time that we're talking about prices. They're changing that much between contract and close. So having that most recent information, our network of appraisers, and our professionals in-house, we're able to stay in front of the market and give people the most up-to-date values. It gives us a forecast of what prospect to go to next.
What is transitional land? In Florida you have historic ranchlands, citrus lands, timberland, that are on the path of development. That gives them a transitory nature. They're not exactly a ranch and recreation land, they're in that pathway of development. What we would define as a transitional sale deals with the price per acre. That usually is the first indication of what's the next use for that property. Ranch and recreation properties will be at one price, but somebody who has a future mindset of development has another price point.
Another interesting area is energy transition. Transition to solar. At a lot of farms right now, these energy companies are purchasing farmland to transition into solar production. So, they're paying a higher price per acre because they're anticipating a different future land use. That's really where we see transitional land come into play as they're fetching higher prices per acre than normal.
How does this affect conservation? We have a stellar conservation program here in Florida and there are a lot of people that care about it. Our economy in Florida is our ecology. People come here for beaches, they don't really come here for rooftops. The mindset of a lot of folks here in Florida is to really promote conservation efforts. The way we do that is through conservation easements to protect these vast stretches of land. Conservation easements are the sale of developmental rights to a qualified entity while still retaining use of the land. These landowners have owned these properties for generations and they're the best stewards of the land which stretches that conservation dollar.
What does that conservation easement do? All that can be defined to the language of the deed, but really the theme of it is conservation. We want to make sure that the property at the historical use is preserved as wetlands or those other sensitive areas. It's geared towards prohibited uses. Mainly, they're things that the landowners wouldn't be doing anyway so we don't really run into issues too much. “Where can we build a house?” is the big question and most of the time that's not too big of an issue.
Sometimes, those developers will pay a lot more than your cows will and so these landowners are facing that pressure. At the end of the day, there are options out there. That's what these conservation easements programs offer. For you to retain those rights and still get paid while keeping the land. At the same time, it's certainly hard to ignore those dollar figures when they are put out in front of you.
What is carbon sequestration? It is carbon capture. If you think about wetland mitigation, that's been an established practice for a while. They have mitigation banks. Carbon sequestration is similar along those lines, but it's a very new market. Really, these were designed to come out of the Paris Climate Accords to help a lot of these big businesses and corporations reach carbon neutrality. That's the big goal there. They want to reduce their carbon footprint.
Companies like Microsoft have an aggressive goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. One of the vehicles they're using to get that is “carbon credits”. They're purchasing land and they're going to use that land for nothing other than storing carbon.
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