A couple of weeks ago this cool thing happened to me where a complete stranger contacted me out of the blue and offered her services as a real estate agent. I was surprised by the unexpected offer and a little caught off guard.
Last winter as I began exploring properties once again, I contacted a local realtor to look at a house in North Anson and he gladly showed it to me. I told him of my quest to find my forever-farm and he offered to serve as my realtor, promising to show me any property I was interested in. But I never heard from him again.
I felt like he had stood me up because he lacked faith in my farm, or had no regard for the local food movement. It could have been any number of reasons really, but the incident put me off the whole realtor thing.
Most realtors are unfamiliar with the issues that come into play when a farmer is searching for a property to move his/her operation to. They’re not farmers and are more accustomed to dealing with residential homeowners or land developers. How could they possibly understand my particular needs?
Furthermore, my approach in response to my difficult circumstances as a beginning farmer are rather unorthodox and most realtors don’t understand how I could hope to make any of this work. Crowdfunding and loans through the FSA are not a common thing in rural central Maine.
I talked it out with some peeps on facebook, who all stated emphatically that their realtors had all been huge assets in the home-buying process. One friend is a realtor out of the Lewiston/Auburn area, who recommended I be sure to interview any potential agents and not just settle for the first one who comes along.
With this in mind I did some research into what exactly a prospective home-buyer should be looking for in their real estate agent and I made up a series of 10 questions, which I sent off to Leah.
Meanwhile I contacted Nina Young, a realtor with Maine Farms Realty and the Maine Farmland Trust, to see if she might be available to serve as my agent. Who better to represent me than an agent dealing exclusively with farmland?
It turns out that Nina is on the payroll at MFT, brokering the properties the Trust buys and sells. Nina told me that while it is true that most realtors in Maine are unaware of the issues involved when it comes to the sale of farmland, MFT is working to change that. Recently a representative from Land for Good came to Maine to teach a course on the subject. The course was well received, with more than 30 realtor in attendance. Nina says they fully intend to hold several more workshops in the not-too-distant future, in hopes of further protecting Maine’s farmlands for future generations.
She said she could not represent me, but offered to speak with whomever I chose as my representative, to answer any questions that might come up along the way.
Enter Leah J. Watkins of the NextHome Experience in Bangor.
Leah saw my facebook post with the forever-farms graphic I had made to promote my search for property to farm on and was inspired to help.
Her answers to my questionnaire revealed that while she is young and somewhat inexperienced, she has a team of realtors around her to draw from (much the same way I draw from the knowledge base and experience of the people I work with). Leah is a proponent of local foods and farms and has ambitions to do more to connect farmers with farmland. Most of all, she’s passionate about helping me take Runamuk home forever.
I really think her youth will be an asset to my team, as she has not yet been jaded by the system and is willing to think outside the box with me to make this dream a reality. So I signed the contract and made it official. Leah J. Watkins is now working for Runamuk! Yaaaaaay!
Already she has set to work promoting my campaign and increasing exposure of my search for my farm home. I never turn down help when it is volunteered so enthusiastically lol!
Please help me in welcoming Leah to the Runamuk community! Leave a comment below!