IowaAuctioneers.com has been a pet project of mine for some time, maybe longer than I care to admit 🙂 I think I bought the domain name about 5 years ago with the intention of putting a website here and we’ve finally made it a reality. Building DreamDirt Farm & Ranch Real Estate, LLC has taken up every spare moment of that time but we’ve grown our team at DreamDirt to the point I can step back and watch things move the way I always imagined and as a part of that I get a voice here at Iowa Auctioneers.
First let me tell my story quickly for those that don’t know me. I served my community for 20 years as a police officer and wanted to do something different with my life. Being a police officer was a rewarding experience, it exposed me to the most difficult situations in life and gave me a skill set you can’t develop anywhere else. Being a police officer makes you a pretty good negotiator 🙂 It was a prefect preparation to become a real estate broker and auctioneer.
I’d been an entrepreneur since my childhood days. From paper routes, working at the local grocery store and a resturant, field work for local farmers, de-tassling for seed companies working as a janitor my the two local taverns in my hometown of Fonda, Iowa I always kept busy. I used my time to its fullest, usually opting to work rather than after school sports or your typical teenage entertainment. For me I had plans in life and I knew I couldn’t achieve them without earning money but I think what drove me more is that I always chose to do things that I really enjoyed doing, often I was surprised that I got paid to do the things I did. In school on Tuesdays I could barely sit still knowing after school I got to deliver the Advertising Guide to every home in my town.
One day in 2005 I sat at my desk in the police station in full uniform. I had to do a television interview at 1PM so I opted for the uniform that particular day rather than suit and tie. I was tired, things had been rough at the police department lately with some really tough cases that seemed to just keep coming. I flipped through the newspaper and saw and ad from a local real estate company that said “Be your own boss. Set your own hours. Make what you are worth.” Maybe it was wishful thinking. I was susceptible to the ad and clipped it out and stick it in my uniform shirt pocket. I thought about it all day, even pulled it out and read it a couple more times that day. All of a sudden I could see myself as a saleman. I’d never considered it before, certainly had never considered selling real estate before but that ad really sounded like a dream compared to what I was doing. I’d lost my love for my career in law enforcement, but not the profession.
What followed is a long story. I worked on the weekends to get my real estate license and started selling real estate and as soon as I got it, I turned in my equipment and bid my workmates at the police station goodbye.
Turns out, I was pretty good at selling real estate. I was selling houses and often selling several houses a week. Soon sellers were choosing me overwhelmingly to list their homes and I was doing well but it seemed like I did the same thing everyday. It wasn’t that glamorous, it was a matter of being a good multi-tasker, time manager and juggling hundreds of details. It was fun, but it was missing something. I liked the interaction with clients. I enjoyed the challenge of negotiations. It wasn’t the same as talking a person into not killing themself, or talking a murderous person down from committing a terrible deed but it was a new and different challenge and it was fun. The commissions were paying the bills, I was making more income than I did at the police department, but my expenses were way higher with advertising bills. I enjoyed the marketing aspect of what I was doing but there was something missing.
One day my real estate sales career took a turn. I was almost 120 miles from home working on a deal when I drove past a plywood sign on a back road of Fremont County Iowa that had red letters painted on it saying “FOR SALE BY OWNER” and a telephone number. I slammed on the brakes and backed up to look. The view from the gravel road was stunning. To me, it was maybe the most beautiful farm I’d ever seen. There was no crop on it, it was a rough hilly partially timber covered with cedar trees all over. It looked great to me! I didn’t know much about farms. I was a city kid, lived in town my entire life. My family was 3 generations removed from the farm. We grew a garden my whole life was about as close as I’d ever come to be a farmer. I called the number, I was going to convince this guy to let me list his farm. I would worry about the details later and I’d force myself to learn what I had to know to sell this place. I was in love with it before I even dialed his phone. That moment in my life changed me, changed who I was and where my life would go. I didn’t know it at the time but looking back 12 years now its obvious. After a short conversation with the owner on the phone I learned he wanted $2000 per acre and he was skeptical of real estate agents. He lived in Omaha about 60 miles away and he agreed to allow me to come to his house and visit. About 3 hours later I walked out of his house with a signed listing agreement for 80 acres of beautiful Iowa countryside. Later the seller told me that he and his wife had a good laugh when I walked out about this over zealous real estate agent but they wanted to give me a chance. You see, I was going to have to prove my value to him. He listed the farm for sale with me, but the price was considerably higher, it was $2800 per acre. I went right back to the farm undaunted and I took pictures and then made the 120 mile trip back to my brokers office to get this 80 acres listed in the MLS. It was a long day and I can still remember almost every detail of it. I had my first farm listed and that morning I’d never imagined listing a farm.
Over the next few days I talked to everybody I could, I searched the Internet, I learned everything I could about farms. I had to learn how big an acre even is. I completely immersed myself in everything agriculture.
A fateful phone call came only 8 days after my original meeting with the owner of that farm. It was a couple that wanted to relocate to the Omaha or Des Moines areas from Colorado. They wanted to be on the edge of the city where it was a little quieter. There just wasn’t anything available that met their criteria but I thought if I could just get them to look at my 80 acre farm they would fall in love with it the same way I did. I lined up properties for them to see the next day, I would put the 80 acres last so it stuck in their mind more. I picked them up at the airport and we started looking early. We drove and drove and drove all day looking at real estate. We got a little behind and I was starting to regret putting the 80 acres last because I was afraid we would run out of light before we got to it and we nearly did but I have to say what happened really couldn’t have been scripted if you tried.
As we started our last drive to this property the sky was blue but the sun was headed for the horizon. The sunset just kept getting prettier and prettier. The sky was so orange and the sky looked blue and purple and we all marveled at the spectacle forming before us. We arrived at the farm at what had to be the peak of the most beautiful sunset I’d ever seen. We stopped on the road to get out and overlook the farm which sat lower than the gravel road and we could look down into it. The sunset combined with the sounds that evening sold my first farm for me. I didn’t have to say a word. The wife fell in love instantly, and the husband immediately following her comment about how much “it felt like home in Colorado” The husband said to me “how much” I said “the seller is asking $2800” . He asked if I had the paperwork with me, he thought that sounded like a good deal to him. We wrote the offer for full price plus $75 per acre to ensure that they did not lose the farm. They wanted absolutely no worry they would lose it.
My drive home that evening was long. I had to take my buyers back to the airport and then have my offer checked by my broker before I could submit it to the seller but I so badly couldn’t wait to tell him what I had. It had only been 10 days and he told me he had been trying to sell it for 2 years when I met with him at his home.
After getting my paperwork checked by my broker I knew I had to wait until the next morning to call, it was almost 11PM and to late so I went home and celebrated with my wife Nicole. We talked with excitement for a few hours, I would be turning my attention to selling nothing but farms from here on out, I had no idea where I could find another but my days of in town residential real estate were over. I only wanted to sell farms and acreages.
The next morning I called the seller bright and early and I’ve never heard somebody so excited about an offer. This was the point that he explained that he and his wife had laughed at me 10 days earlier when I listed the farm for $2800 and the fact I was coming to them with an offer for $2875 was almost unbelievable to him. He immediately accepted, he didn’t want to risk losing the buyer like they didn’t want to risk losing the farm. It was a win win for everybody and for me it changed my career path in real estate.
The story should end there but thats how I became a land broker. The story of how I became an auctioneer is shorter and necessary to know more about me. The quest to get more farms led me to a man that had advertised his farm for sale in a local newspaper. I called him in hopes of meeting him and showing him I could get it sold for him. Now, realize that getting into selling farms wasn’t that easy. Most other agents discouraged me often commenting something like “you have to be in this business for 30 years before people will let you sell their farms” or “why would somebody list a farm with you”
I was finally able to meet this man, his farm would have been the 4th or 5th farm I worked on but after meeting him I was no longer able to get in contact with him. He just wouldn’t answer my calls. In our business we know what that means but for those you feel strongly about you go until you hear no. I finally did get my no but in a little different form than I expected. His “no” was another experience that changed my life and my real estate career. His no sounded like this “Jason I ended up giving that farm to an auctioneer to sell, I just feel like an auction is a better way to sell the farm” . I thanked him, defeated I drove home. I had high hopes of listing that farm and was really excited about it. In what could be one of my most spontaneous thoughts in my life a voice in my head said “if that guy became an auctioneer there must be some way for me to become an auctioneer” . Thats sort of how my mind works and thanks to the power of Google I learned that the nations best auctioneering college is right here in Iowa! 15 minutes after having that thought on the way home I’d already placed my deposit and enrolled in auctioneering college at Mason City Iowa for the November 2007 term. A decade has passed since that thought occurred to me and today I’m typing on my new blog IowaAuctioneers.com
Over the past decade as an auctioneer and land broker I can’t even recall the exact number of farms or acres I’ve sold but in 2015 alone I sold, brokered and processed almost 10,000 acres exactly in one year! I’ve sold or auctioned farms in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Kansas in that timeframe.
Along the way I opened my own brokerage DreamDirt Farm & Ranch Real Estate, LLC so that I could build my own marketing system that was specific to farm assets and today I would say DreamDirt is the fastest growing auction company in the Midwest in terms of sales. From the day of having to figure out exactly how big an acre is I’ve written some of the most read farmland value blogs on the Internet, build Iowa’s most comprehensive farmland values website at www.DollarsAndDirt.com and been quoted in hundreds of publications about farmland values, testified in court about the same, appeared on national news about the Iowa Farm economy, farmland prices and Iowa farm real estate issues including a 30 minute special on NBC called Field$ of Dream$
We have even built a team that works with us today of auctioneers and real estate brokers. In fact, we’ve build the best team you could by hand picking and recruiting exceptional like minded customer service oriented agents that are very much a part of our companies effectiveness.
There isn’t a farm that goes by that I don’t fall in love with just like I did the first time and that might seem odd but I do have a special appreciation for each one of them and as I’ve come to learn, the stories and the people behind those farms.
During the same time Nicole and I have added 4 children to our family Ty, Kayli, Clay and Jasey and enjoyed the opportunity to work with hundreds of great clients that have changed our lives in many ways. We look forward to continuing the very unique offerings we bring to farmland sellers and an opportunity to work with many more. I am as accessible as anybody can be and I aim to answer every phone call if I am not with a client. You can reach me at 712-592-8965 if I can help you in anyway.