Bill BurrussGuest post from Bill Burruss, Virginia’s 2007 Accredited Land Consultant of the Year.

When your head hits the ceiling in the basement, or the kitchen, you might not sell the house. If you are wider than the door, or bigger than the closet that was converted to a bathroom, you might not sell the house. Being 6′ 5″ tall and weighing over 320 lbs in those days, awkward was the way I felt in a house. I found that I never could make the right move showing the beautiful kitchen cabinets. My female broker could do that with such grace. Once, while closing a basement window during a showing, my tie fell into an open gallon of fuel oil and slapped against my shirt. I did not sell the house and because of the smell, I thought the client (a minister) was going to walk home to Alabama. He instead bought a FSBO and stayed. When you are big, you are just BIG.

I grew up in a land family. My family was in the lumber business and had large land holdings. I had always loved the land and as a child would look at tracts with my father. The awkwardness that I showed in residential real estate during this time was never apparent in my land listings. No ceilings to crash into. No doors to get stuck in. I knew how to walk the land and how to talk about it.

Sensing that helping people buy and sell undeveloped land was my calling, I was determined to improve my land skills and make my living this way. The Lynchburg AE told me about the Virginia Chapter of the REALTORS® Land Institute (VARLI). When I made my presentation on why I wanted to join, the Regional Vice-President for my area was being moved up to Treasurer. My presentation turned out to be my installation as the new Regional Vice-President.

Being involved with VARLI has opened more doors than I could have imagined. Below is a brief list:

  • Did pro-bono work for a non-profit group that lead to listing and selling the two
    most expensive commercial land tracts in this area at that time.
  • Sold the land holdings for a company that competed with my father’s company.
  • Worked with my ex-broker on how to sell a youth camp for her church.
  • Assisted in the sale of over 50,000 acres.
  • Asked to represent fellow REALTORS® as the President of the Virginia RLI Chapter twice.
  • Asked to be a member of the first Virginia REALTORS® Leadership Academy.
  • Served on NAR committees as the RLI representative.

Exploring farms and undeveloped land, my clothes still occasionally pick up the aroma of petroleum products, like the one my tie once fell into. But in the outdoors, my preferred working environment, being 6′ 5″ and 260 lbs has its advantages: Hunters can see my blaze orange a lot better. So instead of threatening to walk back to Alabama, my clients now hug me — especially during hunting season.