Did you know that vacant land is harder to sell than a single-family home? It may seem counter-intuitive, because there’s no home inspection or carpets to fuss over. And there’s no open house to host (block party, anyone?!).
But people often don’t realize that there are fewer buyers shopping for vacant land than there are for houses. Which means agents have to work harder and longer to market the listing.
If you’re ready to sell your land, here are some suggestions to help you maximize the return on your investment.
Determine Your Priorities
Is your main goal to sell the property quickly, or to get top dollar for it, even if it means waiting for the right time or the right buyer? Do you have concerns or expectations about the potential use or future development of the property?
Decide what matters most to you. That way, if you’re faced with a hard decision, you’ll have the confidence to make the right call.
Identify Your Audience
Who is most likely to purchase this priority? Forget the ideal world scenarios and get some real feedback from honest brokers.
The concept of “highest and best use” (HBU) refers to getting the maximum value from a plot of land. Depending on the zoning of your property, it’s important to think about different buyer needs. Whether you’re targeting prospective investors, builders, developers, or individual land owners, it’s critical to sell the vision of what your property could be—which may be quite different from its sentimental value to you.
Craft Your Message
Once you’ve identified what type of buyer(s) your land would appeal to, you need to find a good marketing angle. Does your land offer breathtaking views, natural beauty, or privacy? Is it located close to good schools, shopping, or dining and entertainment venues? Or would the property allow for farming, timber logging, a workshop area, or rental income?
By highlighting the features and benefits of your land, you’ll help buyers answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Consider Ways to Add Value
It can take a lot of time, hard work, and additional expenses for buyers to thoroughly evaluate a property for construction. By doing some research up front, you can save them time by pointing them in the right direction.
- Are there power and phone utilities available, and where would they connect?
- Is a private or shared well required, and what are the estimated costs?
- If not on sewer, has any soil testing or planning for a septic system been done?
- Are the access roads paved or just gravel, and are they maintained by the county or private parties?
- Is the site surveyed and have boundaries been marked?
- Is there a cleared construction site, and if not, are there flat areas available or is the land sloped?
Get All Set for a Smooth Closing
Before your land goes on the market, you’ll want to make sure the title is clear. Any surprises, including liens, unpaid taxes or assessments, or erroneous paperwork can jeopardize the sale or delay closing. Deeds should be properly recorded, and legal ownership should be verified.
But in addition to having your paperwork in order, it’s a good idea to visually inspect the land, too. If you haven’t inspected the property recently, make sure someone else isn’t living on it illegally—or dumping old vehicles, appliances, and construction debris (I could tell you stories about this!).
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Pricing land correctly takes skill, because there aren’t many comps to evaluate, and there are other factors to consider, such as zoning, permits, utilities, access, views, and feasibility of future construction.
Over-priced lots often sit on the market for a long time, and eventually sell for less than their market value. That’s why you should price to sell in a couple months, because land listings that sit for 500+ days don’t get much attention. Rather than drag out the listing with multiple price reductions, lead with a competitive asking price that draws more interest.
Use Advanced Targeting to Reach Qualified Buyers
While any real estate professional can upload an MLS listing, print flyers, and send out neighborhood postcards, you might want to think about a more comprehensive and strategic marketing plan. MLS listings don’t always reach land buyers, but there are multiple ways to promote your property to this niche market.
For example, there are several prominent websites that specialize in land sales, and will feature your property on affiliate ad networks. And geo-targeted digital media allows you to promote your property locally, while Pay-Per-Click (PPC) media can reach buyers from all over who show interest in your area. Each situation is different, but a skilled real estate agent can use digital media, demographic data, and sophisticated advertising solutions to reach qualified prospects. This is where a knowledgeable REALTOR® provides great value, earns a higher commission on land sales.
Negotiate a Win-Win Deal
Mortgage lenders don’t want to finance land purchases because of the high risks involved. So buyers are more likely to pay cash, get a special land loan, or seek alternative financing. If it proves difficult to find a qualified buyer, there are creative ways to help seal the deal, before you consider price reductions.
You may want to consider seller financing, such as a land installment or contract for deed, which could be a great investment. And depending on your situation, you may even want to offer seller concessions, such as closing costs, for a buyer who is concerned about a large down payment.
Hire an Agent You Trust
When selecting a real estate broker to sell your land, it pays to work with someone who will keep your best interest in mind. From list pricing, to high quality photography and copywriting, to advertising expertise, the right agent can help your property stand out from the competition.
If you are thinking of selling land in North Kitsap County in the future, reach out and start a conversation with me today. I’d love to discuss your needs and brainstorm a marketing action plan with you.