Life on the Land: Billy McOwen
Any landowner can tell you it makes a world of difference having a trusted, reliable broker to handle the dirty work of a land transaction. Because a typical buyer or seller doesn’t have the industry expertise or the resources to close a sale on his or her own, a broker is the turnkey to make this happen, and fast. But it’s not just the timeliness of a sale that is important, as the satisfaction of owning a tract of land is the No. 1 reason buyers walk away from a transaction with a smile on their face.
To assist buyers in this process, many turn to Mossy Oak Properties, the largest network of Certified Land Specialists in the U.S. With superior customer service and access to the latest market data, brokers at Mossy Oak Properties are far and away the go-to source for all things in the land sales industry. Few exemplify this type of commitment more so than Billy McOwen, who serves as the COO, and as a broker, for Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms, with three locations in eastern North Carolina, as well as Mossy Oak Properties of Virginia.
Here’s what Billy has to say about his work:
What’s the most enjoyable/rewarding part of your job at Mossy Oak Properties?
It’s simple, I love earning the appreciation of our clients in helping them accomplish their dream of land ownership. Recently I met up with one of my first clients who had bought a 65 acre tract of raw land in a popular hunting county in eastern North Carolina. When we first looked at it, it was rough, basically a cat claw briar plantation with mixed in pines. Today on that same property he has a 2,500 square inch log cabin, barns and equipment, and has created a completely manicured property with food plots, tower stands and miles of groomed internal roads and paths. It is an absolute dream come true for him and his wife, and he couldn’t wait to show me what he had done to the place. I’m not sure who was prouder, him or me; that’s a feeling of purpose and accomplishment that just never leaves you.
What drives you to go above and beyond for your clients?
Pride in the Mission, Vision and Values of our company. We have a commitment to excellence in ourselves, in the way we conduct our business and how we contribute both corporately and personally to our communities. Real Estate is a reputation business, it means everything to us to earn the respect of our peers and our clients every day. Our actions today create our future, and we plan on being around a long time.
Did you always have a strong connection to land growing up?
Yes, I was always at home in the woods; it was where I would feel connected to God and a greater purpose. It’s hard to explain, how climbing a tree as a kid led me here, but that’s all in God’s handiwork. We state on our “Buy with Us” page: “At Mossy Oak Properties we understand your passion for the outdoors; it’s our obsession. We believe in the heart of every human being is a desire and a connection to the land that touches our souls in a way that binds us more deeply to God’s great creation. That’s what makes owning your own piece of ground so fulfilling; we get it.”
I wrote that because I truly believe it, not just on the surface, but deep down … where it matters.
If you had to give a land buyer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Find a land broker you can trust, tell him what you want and then listen to him!
What is something most people wouldn’t realize about the land sales industry at first glance?
It’s a lot of work and a lot of travel. I can show five houses in an afternoon, but showing a tract of land can take all day. Coordinating our schedules is far more difficult than our traditional brokerage counterparts because of the time and travel components. I think today’s top land brokers are incredibly efficient and surprisingly technical. Mobile applications and devices are everyday tools in our business, we work from the road and can get more done in day than most traditional brokers do in a week.
Where do you see the land market in your area in the next 10 years?
We think it will continue to increase exponentially. We are steadily growing our base of business across our region and into other states to stay ahead of the curve. We will continue to invest in the marketing necessary to gain exposure in the transitional areas between our brick and mortar locations, coupled with continuing to hire good talent and improving our internal systems to support their success.
How has the affiliation with Mossy Oak Properties impacted your business?
When we started in 2011 we had three brokers and 10 listings in five counties worth $2.7 million. And within one year, we had seven brokers and 85 listings in 16 counties worth $16.5M. One year after that we had three offices, 12 brokers and more than 155 listings in 44 counties worth $35 million. And now we have four offices, in two states, 21 brokers, 180+ listings and are doing business in a total of 52 counties, with almost $60 million in inventory.
Our sales have almost doubled each year; it’s incredible. We were a 30-year-old company with a sterling reputation, but no one knew us personally outside of the five counties we started in, but they knew the Mossy Oak Properties Brand and that made all the difference. When growing our listing base we put the Mossy Oak Properties Brand out in front of us, the brand would get us in the door so we could apply the 30 years of experience we had developed. When marketing to buyers, outdoorsmen immediately gravitate to the brand; our clients read our bios and they know we hunt and fish, love the land and love what we do. The rest is history, and we are just getting started, with offices in Virginia and soon South Carolina, the MOP Brand will help us to continue to grow our base of business into the future. Joining the Mossy Oak Properties network was the best business move we could have ever made.
If you were mentoring a young land specialist, what advice would you give him?
Get with your Broker in Charge and make a plan, and then work the plan! I tell my guys, “You can’t build a brokerage business until you ‘build’ a brokerage business.” Too many new brokers fly by the seat of their pants and don’t have any direction. AND too many brokerages don’t have a plan for training new agents. The best advice I can offer is, “Find an outfit willing to invest the time and effort into helping you develop your craft and stick with it”. If you can’t find one, give me a call … I’ll put you to work.
If you had to invest your personal net egg in rural land, what characteristics would you look at first?
The path of progress, period.
For more information about the best brokers in the business, contact a Mossy Oak representative today.