Mossy Oak Properties

Mossy 

Mossy Oak Properties uses a brand familiar to 40 million outdoors enthusiasts

to sell land in rural areas.

By Mark Lawton, Knighthouse Media

Chris Hawley and Toxey Haas had known each other for about 15 years when they decided to go into business together. “I was in the real estate business and had my own small land brokerage company,” CEO Hawley says. “Toxey had started in the [camouflage] apparel business and had a pretty unique brand that had the loyalty of conservationists and outdoorsmen. There was a need for an real estate brokerage for folks who wanted land as an investment or for recreational purposes.”

In 1999, Mossy Oak Properties began a real estate brokerage office in Hawley’s hometown of Livingston, Ala., and in September 2002 the first Mossy Oak Properties franchise opened in McComb, Miss.

But despite their expertise, they didn’t start off knowing all the answers. “We were developing a business model as we started,” Hawley recalls. “We were deciding who we wanted to be when we grew up. We wanted to make sure the brand resonated with the consumer. We basically piggybacked on the Mossy Oak [camouflage clothing] brand. That got us jump-started.”

In 1986, Haas had created a camouflage pattern using the colors, tones and elements found in nature

Later, and like pretty much everyone else, Mossy Oak Properties got hit by the Great Recession.

“In 2007 we saw things start to slow down,” Hawley says. “2009 was the floor of the market but since 2013, the market has been steadily increasing.”

Today there are more than 100 Mossy Oak Properties offices in 28 states. The franchisees are mostly existing real estate offices that wanted to tap into the Mossy Oak Properties branded platform.  A smaller percentage of new franchises tend to be composed of people who are already associated with the land business such as an appraiser or a forester, Hawley adds.

Instant Credibility

Franchisees pay an initial franchise fee and a percentage of their sales to Mossy Oaks Properties. In exchange, they get, “instant credibility with the Mossy Oak brand and logo,” Hawley says.

Franchisees also have access to benefits including:

* The Mossy Oak Properties website, which recieved 350 million hits in 2018 as of October:

* National marketing initiatives, including social meda and search engine marketing:

* Marketing services including promotional materials, ad templates and branded collaterol:

* Group rates with service providors such as TerraStride Pro mapping software:

* A corporate training program of 16 weeks; and

* Web listing partnerships – Listings on MossyOakProperties.com also get listed on the website of LandWatch, Lands of America, Land and Farm database, LandFlip, Land Data Exchange and Land Search.

Rural Roots

Mossy Oak Properties sells to people who are looking for investment or recreational properties in rural areas. Investment properties might be timber or crop lands. “Timberland, especially in the Southeast is a big, big item for us,” Hawley says.

Recreational, on the other hand, “may be the guy who moved to Chicago and his family had roots in rural America and wanted to invest in property. Maybe he wanted to share more time with his family and buy a weekend retreat.”

Expansion Plans

Transactional volume across the Mossy Oak Properties network is expected to be in the $650 to $800 million range in 2018, up from $630 million in 2017. Meanwhile, the economic trends that influence other businesses also impact Mossy Oak Properties.

“Right now there are a lot of cash buyers,” Hawley says. “They are not as dependent on financing as in the past. We’re watching interest rates like everyone else but there is a lot of consumer confidence at the moment.”

The company also monitors timber and crop prices. “Crop prices might be up even though land prices might be down,” Hawley says. “A few years ago there was a spike in commodities prices and tillable land was in demand even though prices on other land types were pretty stagnant.”

While Mossy Oak Properties began in the Southeast and has a strong presences in the Midwest, Hawley says the company would like to expand other parts of the country outside their 28-state footprint. The company aims to open new franchises in the upper Midwest and Northeast, although Hawley declined to identify specific states.

“There are some states we feel could really fit with our brand the type of brokers that are there,” Hawley says. “There are a couple states out west we would like to expand into. We’ll probably add to those [targeted] states in 2019.”

Over the years, Mossy Oak Properties has added other divisions that connect people to the outdoors. They include BioLogic, which sells items such as wildlife seeds and wildlife management products, Nativ Nurseries, which grows trees and plants; and Gamekeepers, which provides tools to help consumers gain education and products to manage their properties.

In 2017, Mossy Oaks Properties held a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Catch-A-Dream and Sportsmen Organized for Law Enforcement in conjunction with their two-day corporate meeting in Starkville, Miss. The event raised $165,000 in 2018.

Good Partner

Hawley credits the TerraStride Pro online mapping platform with keeping Mossy Oak Properties agents and brokers informed, particularly in the field. “Mapping for land sales and land management is a really big deal,” he says. “TerraStride Pro is on the cutting-edge of that.”

Although the information needed by agents and brokers has not changed in 25 years, Hawley likes how TerraStride Pro makes it instantly accessible along with different types of maps. “It used to take me more time to get a package of information ready to sell a piece of property than to sell the property,” he says says. “Our brokers and agents probably know the property as well as the landowner because they have this information.” 

 

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