Start With Passion
Keller Williams Farm & Ranch associate Tara Stark, of the DFW Metro SW Texas market center, shares how a passion led her to have a successful farm and ranch real estate business.
For Tara Stark, a native Texan, being successful in real estate is all about doing what she was born to do on the land where she was born. “It’s a personal thing,” Stark says. “It’s a joy to go out on a big piece of property and walk the land.” By walking the land, she means being able to diagnose the highest and most desirable use of the property so she can market it effectively. “It’s imperative that I understand what the seller has to sell and what the buyer will want from the property. That is where my job is not just my career, it’s truly my passion.”
Stark, a consistent multi-million-dollar top producer, closed more than $10 million in volume in 2015. She is a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist, a Certified Negotiation Specialist and a current member and regional representative of the Associate Leadership Council (ALC) in her market center. Additionally, Stark has won numerous international awards including the Keller Williams Cultural Icon Award.
“Keller Williams Realty is a provider. I understand this as a single mother raising a daughter on my own. I wanted to be as great as I wanted to be in real estate. Keller Williams gave me the tools and education to do it.”
The Birth of a Passion
Stark grew up on a 4,000-acre property in Texas. Her father, a horse trainer, shaped not only her early career in cutting horses, but the discipline, reputation and love of the land she possesses today. “I spent my childhood riding across wide open spaces, gathering cattle with my father. Training, riding, showing and competing – that was my life. It defined my ethics, competitiveness, aim for success and determination,” Stark says.
Stark amassed a very successful 20-year ride in cutting horses until she made the change to real estate.
In 2003, her career path was born from a personal experience of looking for investment land to purchase. “I drove all around looking at land,” Stark says. “I spent so much time researching, analyzing and assessing properties. I spent weeks driving around looking for property and calling on the agents who represented them.” At that moment she had an epiphany. “I realized that I should be the one representing these properties, and the person people are calling on.”
Stark joined Keller Williams Realty immediately upon becoming a real estate agent. She credits two things that stood out most about the company:
- Mission, Vision, Values. “First, it was the mission of balance: ‘God and family before business.’
- Keller Williams truly distinguishes itself by its profit sharing models, its focus on education and training, but this work-life balance mission rang germane with who I am as an individual.”
- Models and Systems. “Secondly, it was The Millionaire Real Estate Agent book that drove the point home. I actually stopped and paid mind because of the subtitle: It’s Not About the Money.”
Determination and Grit
Stark has built her real estate career mostly by referrals. “Out here, it all begins with your reputation,” she says. “It’s literally the backbone of the farm and ranch world. The land, these properties: there are deep generations and emotions rooted in many of them. Having an understanding of what these listings represent is important. Understanding the mindset here is the key to success with these types of properties.”
“I’m in a competitive market that is highly saturated with luxury and farm and ranch experts. It’s normal to have to compete against four or five agents on any given listing,” Stark says. “Add to that; this market has fewer listings with larger properties, all moving at a much slower pace. These types of transactions are liable to take six months.” For many agents, that can seem too long to wait for a deal to close.
Stark describes the farm and ranch market as a “want to” purchase, not a “have to” purchase. These are purpose-driven purchases. “These properties must provide the land that the ranchers need. If it’s raw land my clients are looking for, then the land must naturally provide for that need. If it’s recreational land, then the land must provide for fishing, hunting, or whatever activity the client is seeking,” Stark says.
Becoming a Successful Farm and Ranch Agent
Stark says that there are several factors unique to farm and ranch properties that agents must be aware of. They aren’t just selling a home on a larger piece of land. For example, there are different tax implications depending on the projected use of the land. To be a successful farm and ranch agent, Stark says agents need to:
- Be experienced with these types of transactions. Consider partnering with an experienced agent on your first few deals.
- Have a track record of success.
- Maintain a reputation for honesty, integrity and professionalism.
- Be well connected with the target audience.
Marketing Farm and Ranch Properties
Stark follows the Keller Williams models and systems, but customizes some of her deals to reflect the specific property, the people and herself. “Keller Williams allows us to brand ourselves, which is very important to me,” Stark says. “We have customized the templates and have designed our advertising in our own personal way to really speak to our target market. I have a look and quality that I strive for because it’s important the property is reflected properly.”
Stark incorporates the following into her marketing plans to provide a well-rounded marketing opportunity for each property: customized pre-listing packages, custom marketing for listings, direct mail campaigns and social media communications.
Stark, who is committed to KW MAPS Coaching, also uses her coaching as a way to enhance the impact of her marketing.
Sticking to Her Roots
“One of my favorite things I do every year is to go back to my roots,” Stark says. For three weeks each November, she weaves her cutting horse career with her real estate business and occupies a booth at the NCHA (National Cutting Horse Association) Futurity World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas. This three-week event is great advertising for her business and it gives her the opportunity to network with potential clients.
What is it that separates Stark from the herd? She has mastered the art of the relationship. “My clients are all of equal value to me,” Stark says. “Real estate is relationship driven. I earn my clients the old-fashioned way: I pay them the respect they deserve and I provide them with the service they expect.”