The Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) is Your Real Estate Counselor

September 28, 2022

Accredited Land Consultant Gary Hubbell is a land expert helping buyers and sellers with land investments

The Accredited Land Consultant Designation—Higher Proficiency in Land Brokerage


By Gary Hubbell, ALC

Broker/Auctioneer, United Country Colorado Brokers


“ALC” means “Accredited Land Consultant”


Those of you who pay attention may notice that I always include three letters after my name in all my professional communications: “Gary Hubbell, ALC”. In case you’re curious, it means “Accredited Land Consultant”, a designation awarded by the Realtors Land Institute, which is a subset of the National Association of Realtors.


What is the Realtors Land Institute? RLI is an association of farm, ranch, and land brokers


Simply put, we’re the land guys and gals. The Realtors Land Institute (RLI) is comprised of state chapters of real estate professionals who specialize in land, farms, ranches, investment properties, transitional land, hunting property, mountain retreats, resorts, and income properties. The motto of RLI is “Above all is the land”, and nothing can be more apt than that. As Will Rogers famously said, “Buy land. They’re not making any more of it.” RLI members have made land transactions the focus of their business and understand the intricacies of a land deal.


Who’s your pilot? Accredited Land Consultants (ALC’s) are land specialists


Think of the analogy of a pilot. It takes 40 hours of training to get a private pilot’s license. A beginning pilot can get the plane up in the air, fly around, and hopefully land it. Do you want to go flying in rough weather with a pilot who has 80 hours of flight time? Not so much, right? However, people get in commercial airliners all the time with weather conditions and they trust the pilots, who normally have thousands of hours of flight time and hundreds of hours of commercial training, including instrument landings. That analogy extends to the Accredited Land Consultant. It actually takes more time to become licensed as a real estate agent than as a private pilot—about 160 hours in most states, compared to the pilot’s 40 hours. That doesn’t mean a new agent is experienced or competent. Truth be told, they’re not, and that is why most states require intense supervision over new agents for their first two years in business. I liken the average residential agent to being a fair private pilot. Or maybe a better analogy is the world of medicine, where a fairly experienced residential agent is like a general practitioner, diagnosing colds and giving vaccinations. An ALC is like a fighter pilot or an orthopedic surgeon, possessing a far higher skill level than the average real estate broker or agent.


The ALC designation means a high level of competence in land transactions


Of all the designations in the world of real estate—and there are many—the ALC might be the most difficult to attain. Some agents list an “alphabet soup” on their business cards, which might be impressive to an uninformed client. However, a designation may require only a day of classes and a simple test. So what. Big deal. The ALC designation is much, much different. It requires 104 classroom hours of study, and each class is typically 16-24 hours. Required courses include:


·       Land 101: Fundamentals of Land Brokerage

·       Land Investment Analysis (3-day course/5 webinars)

·       Transitional Land Real Estate


Candidates must choose two of the following specialty courses:


·       Agricultural Land Brokerage & Marketing

·       Subdivision Land Development

·       Land Real Estate Site Selection

·       Recreational Land Real Estate

·       Tax Deferred 1031 Exchanges


Candidates may then choose one of the following courses as an elective course:


·       Real Estate Mapping Technologies & Techniques

·       Timberland Real Estate

·       Valuation and Transactions of Energy & Environmental Assets

·       any other LANDU course offering


The typical schedule is a total of 6 courses. Any ALC will tell you that the 3-day Land Investment Analysis course is the most challenging course by far, but it’s also the most important class. Students learn how to analyze a property for its income potential, cost of development, overall value appreciation over time, and other factors of land investment. When considering commercial real estate brokerage, Land Investment Analysis is a critical curriculum, and ALC designees are automatically granted a waiver for half the curriculum to attain any one of several commercial designations such as the CCIM designation.


A comprehensive exam, $10 million in land sales, plus letters of recommendation


In addition to completing the coursework, designees must pass a comprehensive national exam, then submit a portfolio proving $10 million in land sales, and that cannot be accomplished by just one big sale. The candidates must write a narrative about each sale and how it was concluded. Finally, the candidate must submit two letters of reference from other ALC’s. The entire application portfolio is reviewed by current ALC’s and submitted to the designation committee for final approval. After all this, ALC’s must also complete 16 hours of ALC classes every three years.


In practical terms, the average ALC has a great network


We all know people who are book smart but not so great at life in general. While there is a big emphasis on class study, the average ALC holder does more deals at a higher level than the average broker. It’s a simple fact. One of the greatest benefits of holding the designation is the fellowship and information sharing with an incredible network of highly competent brokers. RLI brokers are friendly folks, and it’s common for us to call one another to ask about a property, learn about water rights, develop a marketing strategy, or help find a buyer for a property. This high level of practical experience translates into a higher level of success for our clients—buyers, sellers, investors, landowners, land trusts, attorneys, trustees, bankers, and just good simple folks.


Colorado has about 50,000 licensed real estate agents and brokers—and only 34 ALC’s


Every state has a large number of licensed real estate agents and brokers—into the millions nationwide. However, there are only about 500 ALC’s nationwide, and of the 50,000 licensed real estate agents and brokers in Colorado, there are only 34 ALC’s. Colorado has one of the strongest chapters in RLI, having won the “Chapter of the Year” award several times, and has more ALC’s than many states with 34. However, this only proves how rare is this designation and how difficult to achieve.


This isn’t “regular real estate”—ALC deals are more complex and difficult


There are many, many agents and brokers who just sell houses. That’s all. The only complexities they encounter are whether a buyer is financially qualified to purchase or there might be inspection issues on an older home. Good for them. There are no “typical” deals for an ALC, who might be guiding a client through re-investing the proceeds of a commercial property sale into buying a gravel pit in a 1031 exchange. Literally anything and everything that has real estate value might be included in a deal—apartment buildings, a car wash, mini-storage units, vacant development land, a Class A motorhome, the upcoming harvest of a wheat field, grain storage, rail spurs, a “brown field” property with contamination issues, water storage and water rights, mineral royalties, cattle and horses, grazing permits, RV parks, mountain cabins, riverfront properties, landowner hunting permits, lodges and resorts—if it has value, an ALC can sell it.


Your advisory team—doctor, lawyer, accountant, investment advisor, insurance agent, and Accredited Land Consultant


It’s interesting how people have deep ties to their professional advisors who handle their most important affairs. They may have three or four different medical professionals advising them—cardiologist, orthopedist, and dermatologist, for example. Their law firm might have three or four specialists advising them. A good accountant is integral to financial health, as well as an insurance agent and financial advisor. Yet when it comes to managing their biggest assets, which is typically real estate, they often do not have a dedicated counselor to manage their real estate portfolio. That is exactly what an Accredited Land Consultant does. The ALC has the professional expertise to analyze land and property investments and offer advice on how to improve certain assets; when to buy and sell; tax strategies; and presenting new investment opportunities as they arise. A good real estate expert is just as critical to sound financial management and wealth-building, and an ALC has proven their worth for that position. May we apply for your open position as Real Estate Counselor? Call me, Gary Hubbell, ALC, for a confidential consultation. 970-872-3322