7 Traits of Superior Land Agents

August 26, 2020
by Peak Land Services

A career in “land” is an exciting and fulfilling career. Each day as a land agent presents new challenges, opportunities, and solutions. A career as a land agent has the potential to open doors across the United States in Utility, Renewables, Right of Way, and Site Acquisition. This article lists 7 traits that make a great land agent.

1. It’s in the Details

Being meticulous and detail oriented is probably the single most important trait that a land agent can possess. Often times a project requires some type of due diligence, land rights research, or title work prior to negotiations, inspections, or acquisitions. Two easements may look similar from a cursory glance, but did you miss something in the fine print? Did your client really have the right to remove that shed? That mistake may be the difference in your client winning favor with the customer versus the customer holding a 30-year grudge.
I have and currently work as a contractor for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), a major utility company serving millions of customers and owning thousands of miles of easements. PG&E has been around for over 100 years, meaning they have acquired all types of easements with all different types of language. They may look the same, but remember that each easement is negotiated separately by each landowner. Complacency, whether it’s running title or reading an easement, is often the biggest mistake I see land agents make.

2. Good record keeping

I love notes. I love good contact notes, field notes, and title notes. I love being able to look back on a specific negotiation knowing exactly what I said to that specific landowner on a specific date. Every company has different systems for keeping good notes like Google Sheets or Salesforce. Whatever it may be, just make sure you are keeping them and in an orderly fashion. I know that a sticky note may tempting, but don’t do it! Sticky notes are hard to keep track of and reference. Some of my most successful negotiations are because of good, clean record keeping. Not being caught off guard when a landowner references something makes you seem that much more credible and professional.

3. Empathy and sincerity

Believe it or not, negotiation is not all about keeping a stone face and withholding your cards. In fact, I believe the most successful tool a good negotiator has is the ability to show empathy towards their customer. Better yet, being sincere in your empathy is equally as important. Often a land agent’s job is acquiring a right of way through a landowner’s property or removing an encroachment (house, shed, pool, etc.) from the easement to keep it clear. Nobody wants their property or stuff taken away, even if it’s for the public good. By putting yourself in the landowner’s shoes, it will help you understand the situation and be able to communicate with them more successfully.

4. The squeaky wheel gets the grease

This is simple advice, yet highly effective. One of the first pieces of advice I got from my mentor was the art of being persistent. Whether it is trying reach a landowner to inspect their property or following up with an owner to get an answer to an offer, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Following up in a constant manner gets results. Remember, most landowner’s day-to-day priorities don’t include letting someone on their property or granting a right of way. However, if you are persistent, I find that most landowners respect determination and will eventually come around.

5. Communication with the customer is key

Along with good record keeping, good communication with the customer often results in more respect and more successful outcomes. Nobody likes being left “hanging,” so why would you leave your business customer hanging? So many times, I see land agents not following up with landowners to give them status updates on the project. Utility scale projects are typically long and drawn out. By communicating with your customer throughout the project, you will be seen as more credible and professional. Better yet, your client will likely gain favor with the customer.

On top of that, being clear and concise in your emails and phone calls makes a big difference. Don’t beat around the bush when making an offer or request.

6. Communication with the client is equally as important

While having clear communication with your customer is important, equally important is the ability to communicate well with your client. By keeping them updated on the status of a project, you gain more credibility and favor. Be ahead of the game and update your client as much as possible. If the client is always asking for status updates, I don’t believe you are doing your job. Being proactive in this manner will work wonders and will show the client your effectiveness as a land agent.

As an independent land service company, Peak Land Services is often the intermediary between the client and customer. While you may represent the client officially, communicating well with both the client and the customer is necessary to bring results.

7. The little things go a long way

Closing the gate behind when you leave. Making a phone call prior to heading out to a property. Wearing the proper Personal Protective Equipment. Complimenting a landowner on their garden. These are just some of the examples of the little things that go a long way in making a good land agent. By being aware and adding the little touches, your customer will be that much more impressed. Likewise, your client will be that much more satisfied.

Call the Peak team to learn more about how we can help your company with your next project!

Nathan Waddell, Western Regional Manager, Sacramento, CA  – (432) 215-3411