This Exit to the American Dream

by Elizabeth Dengler

Steps to acquiring land for your sporting desires, off-grid living, or waterfront dreams and finding the right real estate professional to look out for your best interest will make all the difference.

Gwen Arrand, Realtor

We sat down with Gwen Arrand of Exit Real Estate Professionals in her Deer Park office to find out what it takes to buy land for a sportsman getaway and we learned it takes more than we thought.

Gwen has been selling real estate for 12+ years. Real estate seems to run in the family. Her daughter Alisha Krause sells real estate out of Newport and Gwen’s granddaughter, Natasha works for a title insurance company in Spokane. With Gwen, real estate is truly a family business and when you work with Gwen it’s like working with your favorite Aunt. She has your back, she’s willing to share what she knows with you, and is fun to be around. And it’s not just how Gwen makes you feel when she’s with you; she brings a tremendous skill set and specialized knowledge to your real estate transaction and that benefits the buyer or seller tremendously. And when it comes to rural properties you want someone with her know-how.

What really is the difference between a residential realtor and someone who specializes in rural areas? Before you hire a real estate agent, Gwen advises to find out what the real estate professional is educated in. Ask them do they know manufactured homes and the different requirements? Ask if the agent is a full-time agent. Some aren’t and they treat real estate as a side gig. Ask how long they’ve been working in the area you’re interested in. How familiar are they with land and acreage? Can they recommend a builder or other professionals needed to develop the land? Ask “how comfortable are you with selling land to me”? What is their experience with shared wells, septic, drawdowns, water quality tests? If these questions cannot easily be answered, perhaps they don’t specialize in the land and acreage market.

A Realtor that specializes in land and acreage knows what red flags to look for on title reports and what to do about them. They can help direct you to the proper county department, they understand land designation and the cost involved to change tax designation. It’s also important that you work with a professional who is great at working with other Realtors. The listing agent is the Realtor representing the seller and as a buyer you want your own representation, and the best part is the seller pays for it. Gwen has developed wonderful relationships with agents she has done cross-sales with and has so much experience she really knows how to work some of the most challenging aspects of a transaction. Gwen goes on to say “it’s really important that you work with someone familiar with the community in which you want to purchase… I love my community. I do everything here.”

What’s available for the sportsman, the outdoorsman, the folks that want some elbow room?

There are 30+ lakes in the Deer Park area alone, there is government and corporate held forest and paper land with access and trails. Finding property that abuts these types of land is a fantastic option for those who want to use the land for recreation. Gwen advises however that you contact any neighboring property owners for access and use rites before you do hunting, hiking or any activities on their property. And, she says, it helps to be good neighbors. “A lot of people build trails and share, but communication with the owner is important on adjoining land,” she says.

Can you do anything you want with the land once you purchase it? What if you want to live in a camper, build a tiny house or live off the grid? “It varies from county to county what is required to live on a property. Are you coming to build or coming to camp, to shoot…you have to take into account CCRs, acreage, distance from the road…” Gwen advises. There’s really a lot to consider, but once you have an idea talking with a professional like Gwen will really help you have a better grasp of what will be required and what’s available in the area in which you’re looking to buy.

Gwen gave us a little insight into the current market trends: “The rural market has picked up quite a bit… Farms are disappearing, being sold, plated and developed. We’ve pushed out of the city limits and now we’re pushing out the county limits. Manufactured homes are popular and resale can be different, but definitely take a look in this market. Typically property with a structure will sell quicker than raw land. Before you make an offer consider what the expense will be to develop land: wells, septic, power… developing property can be kind of spendy”.

Gwen took on the challenges of rural real estate because it is so different from single-family residential. Oftentimes most agents don’t understand all that’s involved let alone have the connections with other professionals needed. Gwen came into real estate with a background in marketing and business management and over the last 12 years has built a successful, referral-based business, a business based on connection and relationships. Gwen shared her philosophy about her business, “it’s who we are, it’s what we do & how we give back. Otherwise, we’re just doing a job.” She is a member of the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce, Past President of the Spokane Women’s Council of Realtors, the current Secretary of Washington State Women’s Council of Realtors, and is an active member in the local Realtor Association.

In our time spent with Gwen we came away with an understanding that getting your piece of the American Dream begins with the right real estate professional for the job and, “besides your family and church, your home is your best investment.”

Posted in