dealing with land agents
- Take your time. Don’t be rushed.
- Don’t sign unless you have read and fully understand the document.
- Ask the Land Agent to leave the contract with you to review and remind them it is an important financial decision.
- You have the right to independent advice, notwithstanding what the land agent may tell you.
- Read When the Landman Comes Knocking (2004) – A Toolkit for BC Landowners Living with Oil and Gas.
- Read Code of Conduct for BC Land Agents
- Get it all in writing. Everything. It doesn’t matter what was said, if it isn’t on paper.
- Make sure the contract refers to current BC Legislation NOT Alberta.
- Book the FAO meeting room as a neutral negotiating site.
- Keep a record of your time spent, and
- Negotiate payment for your reasonable time and expenses, and expert advice.
- Article from AlbertaFarmExpress.ca: “Be on guard for land agents with ‘questionable ethics’”
What have you learned? Share your advice with your neighbours and the Farmers’ Advocacy Office.
General Negotiation Tips
Negotiation is defined as discussion aimed at reaching an agreement.
Negotiation need not be confrontational, and better results are most often achieved with a focussed plan of negotiation. These tips are gleaned from a variety of expert negotiators:
- Do your research before you begin negotiating. Find out what land in your area is selling for.
- Do your homework. Find out what your own property is worth and what effect the proposal will have on its value.
- Before negotiations begin, know your target price (what you hope to achieve) and your walk away price (what you will not accept).
- Rank order your priorities before you begin negotiating, so you are very clear in your own mind what matters most.
- Share information. Be open with what information you are basing your negotiations on.
- Don’t assume that the offer presented to you is all that is available, even if the other party says so. Look for a combination of contract terms, monetary compensation or benefits that will compensate you fairly.
- Be the one to anchor the negotiations. An anchor is the price that both parties will work around.
- If the price offered by the other party is too low, you need to reset the anchor. One way to do this is to call out what you are observing, and redirect the conversation with something like this: “you may be trying to test my thinking with that first offer, but here’s more of what I had in mind” – and put out your target price.
- As negotiation proceeds, and you are asked what you will accept, don’t give a range, or you will be settling at the low end of it. If you are confident that a certain value will fairly compensate you, state that figure.
- Counter offers make both parties more satisfied with the outcome. Be sure not to counter offer with a ridiculous proposal that will cause the other side to doubt your sincerity and integrity.
- Beware of the “signing bonus” – added cash if you sign right away. You may get an extra $5,000 or $10,000, but leave much more on the table because you didn’t take the time to research and negotiate all that is available to you.
- Keep notes of each negotiation session so you can quickly recap the agreed upon items, and start moving the process forward. Taking this step at the beginning of each session puts you in a strong position of awareness and organization.
- When the deal is reached, get it all in writing – no verbal terms, conditions or benefits.
If negotiating a Surface Lease or Pipeline, bear in mind, that if the matter proceeds to arbitration at the Surface Rights Board, any negotiation or mediation become “without prejudice” or non-binding.