For the past one hundred years, one of my family’s most powerful assets has been real estate. It was our saving grace when our business cycles were affected by interruptions ranging from political to economical strife, when so many of our revenue streams at the time were put on hold. The previous generation counted on its land and our properties, and from this source we were able to generate alternative income.
When it comes to assets, land ownership continues to be a leading asset for many family businesses – from second-generation business owner Ted Turner’s two-million-plus acres in New Mexico to the LTD empire, who own close to four million acres of land between Canada’s New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and the state of Maine.
It is a tangible asset that should be built into any business model, not only because of the land’s inherent value but also because of its stability and versatility. However, it is important not to underplay that it is also a finite asset. When you have land, you can create a revenue stream from it, whether you sell, lease it, use it as collateral, or build on it.
The Benefit of Land Ownership: The Grosvenor Family
London’s Grosvenor family acquired five hundred acres “of swamp, pasture, and orchards” just west of London in 1677 as a result of the marriage of Mary Davies and Sir Thomas Grosvenor. Some 350 years later, the Grosvenors still own three hundred of those acres, now located in well-known subdivisions of London, including Belgravia and Mayfair—home to Grosvenor Square.
Applying centuries of knowledge of real estate holdings and development, the Grosvenor family expanded outside of the United Kingdom in the mid-twentieth century, undertaking development projects in Australia, the Americas, and Continental Europe. Today, the family is involved in real estate in sixty cities around the world and continues to grow, while remaining a family-owned, privately held entity.
Land = Wealth
In this day and age, when online transactions and monetary value are often measured with digital numbers, it can be easy to overlook the value of physical assets.Yet property ownership continues to be one of the world’s oldest symbols of wealth, and as a tangible asset, if it is clean and clear of liabilities, it can become a real nest egg.
In some cases, individuals acquire it and protect it, as the Grosvenor family did, and if they had enough to allow others to live on it, that land became an asset, generating income and consequently boosting the landowners to a leadership position in the community. Those looking to move up in the world also found ways to claim their own land for the same reasons. Landowners not only gained wealth through tenancy and taxation, but also through the inherent power of their position.
Property continues to be a key variable in the formula for wealth. It’s a tangible asset everyone wants and needs for a variety of reasons. Making the ownership of property a priority within your family business will provide an invaluable asset that will benefit many generations to come.