For many, the process of selling one’s land is daunting. This is likely one of the biggest financial decisions a person will make in their lifetime. There are a variety of factors that can complicate this process and bring unneeded stress to the landowner, however, through proper planning these potential pitfalls can be resolved before they even become issues.
The process of selling land will take time and effort, but if a landowner is willing to be patient and work with their agent, it can be an enjoyable and lucrative undertaking for all parties involved.
Hire the Right Agent
The first step towards selling your property is to get in contact with a land agent who is well suited to sell your property. It is important to take a look at a few different agents to ensure that you’ve found the perfect person for your property. Many people that have never bought or sold land before tend to approach this process in a similar manner as one would selling a home or residence, and hire a residential real estate agent. This is a flawed approach for a variety of reasons, and will likely lead to your property sitting on the market for much longer than it should.
For starters, many people will contact a residential real estate agent to sell their land without realizing that residential agents and land agents have vastly different skillsets and knowledge bases. Residential agents tend to be very knowledgeable about everything inside the home, however, many may lack the experience and know-how to adequately evaluate your land.
Conversely, land agents are often well versed in a variety of topics as they pertain to land such as mineral rights, forestry, outdoor recreation, and much more. Land agents typically specialize in one or two sectors of the industry, and usually only work with those kinds of properties. It is this wealth of knowledge that makes the help of an experienced land agent so important to the successful sale of a property.
Residential agents may also not be as well equipped to show and market a large piece of land to potential buyers. Many residential agents likely won’t own a side-by-side for touring properties, or may not understand the importance of aerial and drone photography in showcasing your property.
According to National Land Realty Land Professional Ryan Harris, the number one way that an agent can provide value to their seller is through their connections and network; “A good land agent has a ‘guy’ for everything. They’ve got surveyors, they’ve got title companies, land clearing guys, foresters, loggers, the list goes on. We’ve got relationships with every kind of person you might need and can help you make those connections.” Finding the right agent is the first step of the selling process, as a good land agent should be able to help their seller from start to finish, and address any issues that arise along the way.
Get to Know Your Property
Now that you’ve found the right land agent to sell your property, the next step in the process is to get to know your property. It is important to understand various attributes of your land such as game populations, natural resource deposits, soil compositions, and water sources. Having a decent understanding of what is going on on your property will help you determine the best use for your property.
Say, for example, you’ve been using your property as a weekend getaway for your family, however, the property is also home to large populations of deer and other desirable game. In this scenario, perhaps your property could be better marketed as a hunting tract rather than simply a recreational property.
Another part of getting to know your property would be to examine recent sales of comparable properties in your area. This can help you to form an idea of what your property is worth based on the sale prices of similarly sized nearby properties. Your land agent should be able to help walk you through this process, as they will have access to various kinds of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies that allow them to easily examine recent sales, comparable properties, and potential buyers in your area. One example of such a tool would be National Land Realty’s LandBase™, which allows you to view parcel information, soil compositions, and recent sales data in your area through a free MyLand account.
The best way to go about deciding on your property’s best use would be to consult with your land agent and hire an appraiser as well as a surveyor. As noted above, these are local professionals with whom your agent should be able to put you in contact. Surveyors can help with determining things like soil composition, boundary lines, wildlife presence, and much more.
The surveyor’s job is essentially to help you better understand your property so that you can more accurately and effectively market your property to potential buyers. Similarly, the appraiser’s job is to provide a holistic evaluation of your property so as to determine a fair value. Enlisting the help of these professionals will allow you to be more confident in the price you set and the way you market your property to buyers.
Keep It Clean
This part of the selling process is relatively straightforward; clean up your property! As National Land Realty Land Professional Aaron Sutton will tell you, cleaning up your property is one of the most important tasks on the part of the seller; “I like to tell folks, if we were selling your house, you wouldn’t show it to a buyer without making your bed first, would you?” Here are some general tips to keep in mind when cleaning up your property to sell.
- Ensure trails are easily accessible, adequately mowed, and free of trash or debris
- Look for areas that need repairs like breaks in fences or old equipment, and make these repairs
- If you have deer stands or other hunting structures, confirm that these structures are clear of any trash or leftover materials from the last hunt. This includes removing hazards like wasp nests from the stand.
- Clear out any fallen trees or other obstructions that could hinder access
- If you have any especially rowdy animals on the property like dogs or horses, perhaps make arrangements for those animals to be elsewhere during tours.
The other component of cleaning up your property would be to make improvements to your property which would make it more attractive to potential buyers, as well as possibly increase your property value. One such improvement that could be made to a hunting property would be to create designated food plots and grazing areas; if these areas are already present on your property, consider if they could be improved in any way, perhaps by upgrading existing feeders or adding water sources.
The other main improvement that is recommended for properties of any size or use would be the addition of an internal road or trail system. According to Land Professional Ryan Harris, this is the best way a landowner can improve their property and increase its value. “The number one thing that I see properties lacking that I recommend adding is access. If you’ve got a place on a county road with no access roads, the number one thing that will create value would be a trail system to access that property. This will allow your buyers to see the entire property with a four-wheeler or side-by-side without needing to walk to every corner.”
The process of cleaning up your property is an important one, since as Land Professional Aaron Sutton puts it, “You need to make your property presentable because we want buyers to see a blank slate. We want a potential buyer to come in and immediately picture themselves or their family hunting, fishing, and simply enjoying the land.” Once you’ve sufficiently cleaned up the property, the only thing left to do is to employ effective marketing practices in your advertising.
Marketing Your Property
Effective marketing and advertising of your property is likely the number one thing that will bring buyers to your doorstep. Many sellers may believe that getting their property to the front page of Zillow or more specialized sites like Land.com is what will reel in buyers; however, oftentimes sellers tend to neglect their local market.
Local markets should be some of the first places you begin marketing your property, as landowners in your area are going to be more likely to purchase additional land that’s in their area or adjacent to their property. Neighboring landowners should be some of the first people to who you advertise your property. From there, you spread the word around local farmer’s markets and farmer’s associations, as farmers are generally the type of landowners that are always looking to expand their property. A good land agent should be able to help you effectively target these local audiences and make connections with other landowners in your area.
Another effective means of local advertising is the classic “For Sale” sign in the front yard. Although your agent will likely take care of your signage needs, there are a few things worth keeping in mind. If you want your sign to really catch the eyes of people driving by, then you’ll need to put a little more effort in than simply buying a sign at your local hardware store. Don’t just use a generic “For Sale” sign, but rather put some work into creating a large custom sign that provides specific information about your property such as acreage or other notable features, as well as contact information like a phone number or email address. Be sure to place your sign near a road with high traffic and visibility to increase the odds that someone may spy your sign as they drive by. Again, signage will likely be handled by your agent, but it doesn’t hurt to have a decent understanding of what makes for effective signage.
A large part of the agent’s job is putting together an effective listing; a listing is essentially an advertisement for your property that showcases photos and provides a detailed description of the features of your property, to be placed on listing sites such as Zillow or Land.com. Now while your agent will likely be putting together your listing, there are a few things that you should be looking for in a good listing. Firstly, many buyers will immediately disregard listings with a few grainy photographs and grammatical errors in the listing description, so it is important that your listing be professional and free of errors.
Depending on the size of your property, aerial/drone photography may be necessary to effectively showcase all that your property has to offer. These photographs also help to give your listing a professional look and feel. Some brokerages, like National Land Realty, specialize in drone photography and can make your property look spectacular from above! To learn more about our LandTour360® technology, click here!
Any good land agent should know how to photograph your property to effectively market it. This means actually getting out and taking pictures, not just snapping a few shots on their iPhone from a car window. A lack of effort in photography will be apparent in your listing and will do little to attract viable buyers. Similarly, you’ll want to ensure that the property description for your listing is accurate and free of grammatical errors. If your agent has misspellings or inaccurate information in their listing, then perhaps you should be looking for an agent who pays more attention to these smaller, yet very important, details.
A great property description should tell a story, and pull its reader into that story. This goes back to Aaron Sutton’s point about the property being a blank slate, as the goal of an effective listing description is to allow the reader to imagine themselves owning and living at that property.
As stated at the beginning, selling land can be a daunting process for those who have never done it before, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be! By using a knowledgeable agent and all of the tools at their disposal, and employing the good practices outlined in this article, selling land can be a lucrative and enjoyable experience. If you’ve got more questions about selling land, or are looking to get in contact with an experienced land agent in your area, please contact us here at nationalland.com, or give us a call at 855-384-5263. We would love to help you through the selling process.