Profitable Niches – Agricultural Investing

Throughout our Profitable Niches series, the message has been clear … there’s more than one way to invest in real estate. It’s so much more than single-family homes and apartment buildings. And, in today’s market, when some of the more traditional investments are stretched, it’s a good idea to think about something new and fresh.

Agricultural investing may not have been on your radar, but that’s about to change! And no, you don’t have to have a green thumb to participate. We’re talking with an expert guest who has blazed a trail into a market that’s energizing AND tasty.

As a sweet bonus, you can support a socially sustainable program as well. Check it out!

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your cultivating host, Robert Helms
  • His growing co-host, Russell Gray
  • Friend and farmer, David Sewell, Founder of International Coffee Farms

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From beans to mug or bar … picking a crop

Just like everyone needs a roof over their head, everyone has to eat. That means there’s a demand for agricultural products and an opportunity for investors to do well in agriculture.

All it takes is a little education on the language of agricultural investing. In housing, it’s all about markets and demands. Agriculture has the same learning curve. Once you understand the geography, the demand for products, and a little of the science behind growing, you’re on your way to getting a foothold in agriculture.

But, agriculture is a wide world, so we’ll narrow our focus.

Our guest, David Sewell, started in agricultural investing with one product: coffee. It has a long shelf life, doesn’t perish quickly, and there’s enormous demand for specialty coffee with limited supply.

Specialty, socially sustainable coffee has been David’s niche since 2014. He purchases farms that are managed poorly, spends time working on the soil, understanding the climate, planting trees, and building a system that delivers product at a great return.

“Specialty coffee is a unique product that’s managed by the tree,” David says. “Specialty coffee is hand-picked, one cherry at a time.”

One of the best things about specialty coffee is that the limited growing geography drives up demand. But it takes some time to get a farm turned around to producing. Just like any gardening project, it takes patience and skill.

Since David started his business in 2014, he has worked through plenty of challenges and developed an amazing model that is blazing a trail in agricultural investing.

And now, he’s moved into a second crop.

“A good way to start the day is with a good cup of coffee and, in the evening, end it with a couple pieces of chocolate,” David says.

The demand for specialty, fine-flavored cacao is rising, and the supply is even MORE limited than specialty coffee. David’s cacao choice is particularly a specialty in Belize.

David took what he learned from coffee in Panama and rehabbed a few farms in Belize with the same, successful model.

With a little science, ingenuity, and care, David has capitalized on the demand for specialty products. He has 154 farmers who sell their crop exclusively to him, in his centralized processing facility.

“It’s what they needed,” David says. “So, we can control the cacao.”

David has three farms as well as a trading company that buys and sells literal tons of beans every weekend.

They’ve all been trained on organic processes, and together, they use the centralized processing systems he has built to make an efficient product that is ready for market.

Socially Sustainable Investing

Conditions on a coffee farm aren’t known for being great. That is different on David’s farms. He takes care of his 35 farm hands, and it has paid off.

“We’re proud to say that with the compensation program we’re able to provide and with the love and attention we’ve paid them, we haven’t had one turnover in 3 years,” David says. “We take care of the people.”

David’s farms change the way workers live. They receive good rain gear, so they aren’t picking cherries or tending to trees in the rain wearing a trash bag. Kids aren’t allowed on the farm … they attend school.

Families live in provided housing with electricity, flushing toilets, and other amenities that we often take for granted.

And, while these benefits for employees are key to David’s business, it’s not all altruistic. Labor turnover is expensive, and taking care of workers keeps them from leaving.

Beyond just the living conditions, workers are sent to seminars and congresses to build up their skills so they become even more educated and grow with the company.

This dedication to his workers shows by the passion and dedication they bring to the field and to the job every day. His workforce is expert in cacao and coffee, and that drives the superior flavor … and price.

That makes investing in opportunities like David’s even more exciting and sweeter for investors. Not only can you make money, but you can also make a difference.

Small-scale agricultural investing

One of the drawbacks to agricultural investing is understanding the science and process to growing, processing, and distributing a product. It takes time and experience to know a good opportunity and to succeed.

For instance, David learned early on that the biggest hurdle was the deeding process for international property. He warns that it is difficult to do on an individual basis.

But, David has found an interesting way to let people play with agricultural investing.

“We’ve focused on the delivery part of the investment vehicle,” David says. “That’s the hard part and where failure happens in many cases.”

With David’s business, he wanted to use his knowledge of syndication to make agricultural investing more accessible for people, regardless of their knowledge level and even for those who couldn’t buy an entire farm.

David’s farms are broken out into ½ acre parcels that can be bought individually or in groups. The parcel is deeded an individual investor or entity’s name, and it’s essentially a turnkey investment. It’s managed and operated by David’s team and investors not only get the returns, but also the knowledge that they’re participating in a socially sustainable program.

For investors looking for a legacy investment to pass on to their kids, or to invest in a program that’s socially sustainable, this is worth a serious look.

To learn more about David’s coffee and cacao operation and how you can get involved, send an email to beans [at] realestateguysradio [dot] com, and we’ll get you his special report on both opportunities!

And, we’d love to see you in September with David at our Secrets of Successful Syndication seminar. Here’s where to sign up!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Profitable Niches – Real Estate Development

In this episode of our Profitable Niches series, we’re starting from the ground up. Inventory of homes is tight in many US markets, and returns are diminishing. Enter real estate development.

Our guest, Jay Hartley, saw an exciting opportunity to expand his business into the real estate development space, and he’s got a wealth of knowledge to share.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your stately host, Robert Helms
  • His developing co-host, Russell Gray
  • Returning guest, Jay Hartley, real estate developer and property manager in Dallas-Fort Worth

Listen

 


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Broadcasting since 1997 with over 300 episodes on iTunes!

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Beginning with the basics

One of the questions we ask in our seminars is which is more risky: buying an existing building and renovating or building from the ground up? The truth is, there isn’t a right answer to that question.

From inheriting problems in an existing property to building too much or building something the market doesn’t want, there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether to build or buy. The key is knowing the market, the demand, and the supply.

One of the most exciting things about real estate development is the number of entry points. Throughout the lifecycle of a property, there is value being added. Taking raw land from a zoned area to a lot with utilities and a finished building are all steps in the process.

For those who find themselves in a market with a lot of demand but a squeeze on supply, real estate development can be a FANTASTIC way to add more houses into the market, whether or not you hold on to that inventory long term.

Shifting your investment mindset

Jay Hartley is known as one of the best property managers in the Dallas-Fort Worth real estate market. He began like many investors with buying and renting fixer uppers.

Eventually, inventory started getting tight, prices escalated, and returns diminished. That’s when Jay took his first steps into development.

“We had to look at the marketplace and see where the opportunity would be to add inventory,” Jay says. “We started looking at acquiring vacant lots that were already in subdivisions and doing what they call infill.”

Infill meant building one or two homes on lots in subdivisions and then either renting or selling those homes to investors as turnkey properties.

It wasn’t long before Jay’s successful turnkey model got plenty of competitors and Jay took it to the next level. He utilized the economies of scale by getting into bigger developments and subdividing tracts of land. That’s also when he started building his network and expanding his education.

“I had some clients in the building business,” Jay says. “I took them to lunch and started picking their brains.”

Jay soon learned it was a smart idea to partner with a few builders early on. But then the key to sustaining his business was to keep his contractors busy with his projects so he didn’t lose them to other projects.

Real estate development doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the one swinging the hammer. In many ways, it’s orchestrating OTHER contractors and moving parts to complete a job. That also means managing labor.

“One of the biggest issues we’re dealing with right now is having labor ready and available,” Jay says. “If we don’t keep them busy, we lose that framer, we lose that concrete guy, we lose that roofer. We try to set them up to go to one job site to the next to keep them busy and on my job.”

As the deals got larger, Jay had to deal with the growth spurt in his business. He was always known as the property management guy, but had to shift his mindset as he shifted into real estate development. One of those moves was toward selling properties rather than buying and holding.

“I’m not afraid to sell them anymore,” Jay says. “I was a collector before, and it was tough for me to wrap my head around selling them.”

But, with some help and guidance, he was able to work through those mental roadblocks and scale up his business!

Get rich in a niche with a network

Rolling with changing markets is what makes an investor successful long term. Even though Jay was doing really well in property management, he saw a need for more inventory in the market. So, he became one of the people to create it! That has also set him up to know about lots of different types of real estate, and it’s another tool in his toolkit.

“It’s not about what I’ve done. It’s about who I’ve met,” Jay says.

Building a network of people with all kinds of unique backgrounds is a way to tap into their experience. Jay says you can take classes and watch videos, but watching flipper shows on television doesn’t mean you know how to flip a house. Partnering with people on a build job, however, is worth its weight in gold.

And that’s the essence of most development. It’s done through syndication and joint ventures. You can partner up with people who have the land, capital, or expertise you need, and you can put together a great deal.

Jay started out financing his own projects, but it wasn’t until he started tapping into syndication that his business really took off. He attended a few of our programs on syndication and sales, and they catapulted him into success.

“I’ve been in real estate all my life,” Jay says. “The training there, I didn’t think I really needed it. It was enlightening … it gave me the tools and the ability and the confidence to talk to clients and investors and pitch!”

Jay’s journey has been propelled by his ability to be ambitious and coachable. The ability to shift and adapt to new markets is how he keeps his skills sharp and his business growing.

If you’d like to learn more about real estate development and property management in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, get on the inside track with Jay. Send an email to dallasdeals (at) realestateguysradio (dot) com, and we’ll connect you with Jay and his expertise!

And, we hope to see you at some upcoming events. Secrets of Successful Syndication and How to Win Funds and Influence People are packed full of information that you won’t want to miss. Register now!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.