Please understand that this post is not intended to be legal, tax or explicit real estate advice. It is written only for your consideration as general information about ways to sell vacant land. You should consult a real estate attorney, broker or accountant for specific advice.
1) Sell it yourself
Selling vacant land can be more challenging than selling a single family residential home. It’s a different market with different dynamics and different players. It can take allot longer to sell vacant land and your approach to doing so needs to differ from that of selling a house.
You’ll want to gather all of the relevant information that you have and can find about the property. This could include an appraisal and survey (if you have them), plat maps, tax information, zoning and the availability of utilities as well as local amenities, attractions, schools and shopping.
Pricing land can be trickier than pricing a house as comparable sales are fewer and the land market is slower and less efficient. Websites like Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia allow you to search their “for sale” listings for comparable parcels in the same area that your land is located. Check the recently sold properties as well. Take into account how your land stacks up against the parcels listed for sale and recently sold. The size, location and attributes of your property will have the greatest impact on its value. Obviously, a 40 acre plot with paved road access, nearby utilities, and combination of trees and meadow will sell more easily than a landlocked heavily sloping ¼ acre of rocky outcrop. The amount that a potential buyer is willing to pay can also vary greatly depending on their intended use for the property, their financial situation and how badly they want to own it. You will also want to consider your own needs when setting a price. If you desire a faster sale, you are more likely to achieve that by starting with a lower asking price.
Be sure your property is free of trash and debris. If the season and location allow it, you could plant wild flowers to add some appeal. Take plenty of marketing photos. If there is a road nearby your land that has enough traffic, you could place a “For Sale by Owner” sign along the perimeter.
Consider whether or not you want to offer seller financing. Banks don’t typically lend on unimproved land and if you offer seller financing, you will open up a larger pool of potential buyers. You can transfer title to the buyer after they sign a promissory note wherein they agree to pay according to the terms, or you can create a contract where you each agree that the ownership will be conveyed to the buyer once the final payment has been made. This is known as “contract for deed” in some states.
Take all of the photos and information that you now have about your property and create a marketing piece using a word processing application. Craigslist is a good venue where you can market your parcel to the public. Zillow, Trulia and Redfin may also allow you to post your listing as “For sale by Owner”. Be sure to check your listings weekly and keep them up to date.
Be patient. It could take a long time and it’s likely that you’ll have to deal with a few “tire kickers”.
If you receive and accept an offer from a buyer you will then prepare the purchase and sale agreement, deed, terms contract and whatever disclosure statement might be required in your area. Once you have conveyed the property to the buyer by signing the deed in the presence of a notary, you or the buyer will need to send the signed and notarized deed to the county to be recorded along with any paperwork required by the county such as an “Affidavit of Property Value”. Do consider hiring an attorney to prepare the documents for you to be sure everything is done correctly and in accordance with the laws in your state.
2) Hire a Broker
I won’t discourage you from hiring a broker to sell your land. It’s likely to be easier than trying to sell it yourself. However, please be aware of a few things before you sign a listing agreement.
Listing your property with an agent will automatically place it in a pool of tens or maybe hundreds of other comparable listings all competing with your property in attributes and asking price. Given that, any potential buyer will either need to see your property as the best in the bunch or the least expensive among them. I think you see my point.
You may also find that brokers are typically most interested in taking only the most expensive listings and most improved parcels. They understandably want the best chance at getting the largest commissions. Your scrubby five acre plot of rural vacant land may not get the best marketing effort available, even from a professional broker. Moreover, brokers seem to now be insisting on much larger commissions for sales of vacant rural land as well as exclusive listing contracts wherein they get their commission even if your brother-in-law decides to buy the land from you the following week.
Even when (or maybe especially when) listing your property with a broker – be patient. It usually takes a long time to sell vacant land. Of course it depends on the type, location and asking price of the property; but if you visit the online listings of land for sale on Zillow, Redfin or Trulia, you are likely to see some plots that have been listed for years even. Be very patient.
3) Sell Your Property to a Private Land Buyer/Investor
Selling your land to a private investor may not get you the highest price, but in exchange for selling your property at a discount, you should expect a fast and easy transaction.
It’s not uncommon that, at some time in our lives, we end up owning something that no longer serves our needs or wants. For me, there have been several cars, a mobile home and a boat; each of which had their place and time. All of which later became something that I wanted to unload as easily as possible and move forward.
Often, it’s simply that circumstances have changed in our life. We may have fallen out of love with a parcel of land (or whatever the thing is). Perhaps we just made a mistake by acquiring it in the first place. To have someone come along and offer us a check to take something off our hands that we may no longer want or need can be a blessing. I still feel fortunate and grateful that those buyers came along when they did (first of the mobile home and years later the boat). They gave me money for assets that can not only be very hard and take a very long time to sell, but that I no longer wanted and would otherwise have become a burden to me. I’m still thankful for the way it worked out.
I hope you find just the right buyer at just the right time.
Best of luck to you in all your land endeavors!
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