Do you have land you’re looking to sell?
Selling your land without a realtor can be a great way to take charge of the process and save yourself fees. But if you’ve never sold land before, you might not know where to start. The ins and outs of the process can seem quite daunting.
But it doesn’t have to be! Read on for our guide on how to sell vacant land without a realtor.
The Land Market: What to Expect & Why It’s a Different Ball Game
Most people think that when they sell vacant land, it’s going to be the same as selling a house. The market dynamics are completely different though, it’s a very different process.
If you’re selling land, you’ll be better prepared if you first know the difference. Here are some key differences between the land market and selling existing homes.
Land Buyers Are Different from Property Buyers
These two groups of people have different buying needs, wants, and outlooks. People buying a home want something they can move into right away. They’ll want smart-home features, granite countertops, and original hardwood flooring.
Homebuyers don’t want a project most of the time, they will want a minimal amount of work to do before moving in. They’ll set aside personal customization for convenience (time, money, and effort savings).
In 2020, 5.64 million homes sold compared to 822,000 built from scratch. Most homebuyers don’t want to build their own homes, they want one that already exists.
People looking to buy land (land investors and individuals) are mainly focused on the location. That has to be right, and there needs to be opportunity and possibility to develop the property and add value. This lets them customize the land to fit the needs and wants they have.
The perspectives vary depending on whether they’re a land investor/developer or an individual. For example, an individual might look for recreational land, or a plot to build their dream home on.
Investors and developers are looking at plots that will make the most money. This comes down to location and land type, as well as ease of development opportunities. Investors will look at the property zoning, the local demographics, and how hard it is to get projects approved by the local government agencies.
In both instances, the buyers want to change the land to suit their needs/wants. The more complex the development, the more time-consuming the property evaluation and due diligence period will be and the higher chance something will come up that prevents them from moving forward with their purchase.
Less Demand for the Land Market
At almost any time, the market for the land market is less active than the existing homes market. It comes down to the simple fact that fewer people want to buy vacant land lots than existing houses. Land has less utility – it doesn’t provide a roof over your head and, with a few exceptions, won’t produce rental income like a house would.
Land also requires work and effort on the buyer’s end to make it use-able – trees may need to be cleared, utilities need to be installed, culverts and driveways put in. This type of work can be intimidating for most buyers to do. And most houses already have this in place so buyers prefer to take the easy route and just buy a house. Financing for land is also less widely available than it is for houses. Most land sales are either sold for cash or on owner financed terms. Owner financing a piece of land can present other issues which we won’t get into in this post.
Take a market where both land and new homes are desirable. You have a new home and a vacant lot both in desirable areas, both at a fair price – you’ll get fewer contacts about the land lot. It’s how the market dynamics almost always works in most of the country.
The Sales Approaches Are Different
So, we’ve seen that the market for land is smaller, the financing is less readily available for buyers, and so are the buyers’ wants/needs. This suggests that the sales approach will all need to be different to have success.
Conventional marketing strategies for homes include:
- Detailed pictures – often with the home staged
- Open houses
- Online and print classified ads
- Leaflets and information sheets in front of the property that people driving by can grab
It’s not hard to visualize a house though when you’re walking through it. Buyers are getting a personal experience with the property, they can feel and touch it.
They don’t need to imagine as much of it in their head. They can picture how their life and their family would use the space and work in that house.
Selling vacant land is a different ball game. The buyer needs to see the potential the property has. One high level thing that can help is having a boundary survey completed. This will at least show a buyer the extent of it – where the property starts and stops and what’s included within its boundaries.
The key is guiding the buyer to look beyond what they see right now. You need to help them envision what it could look like when they finished with it in the future. This might involve meeting them out at the property and walking it with them pointing out the best features and options for how the property could be developed to best suit their individual needs. You’re going to need patience, with fewer buyers and less visualization, it will take longer to sell. You’ll also deal with a fair amount of tire kickers who aren’t quite sure what they are wanting in a piece of land and need to go visit a few properties like yours to help them get a sense of what they like and don’t like.
But you shouldn’t get discouraged if you have land to sell. You might need to kiss a few frogs before finding a qualified cash buyer who is ready to sign a contract to purchase the property. Like most things, it takes work and its a numbers game. This information is here to guide you and inform you so you can find an approach that works for you.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Realtor to Sell Vacant Land
Its the norm to use a realtor when you’re selling a house. But, if you’re selling land it’s not always the best idea.
You’ll need to weigh up what an agent can offer and whether it’s worth the cons. We’ll break down some reasons below why you might want to consider selling your land without a realtor.
1. Realtors Cost a Pretty Penny
Realtors make their income based on the commissions they get for each successful sale. On average across the U.S., most will charge at least a 6% commission when selling a house. You’re looking at the typical commission on land and lot sales of 10%! That’s a huge difference.
Depending on the size and location of the property the agent might also ask you to contribute towards the marketing costs (photos, advertisements, etc.). Since they only make money if the property sells they want to spend as little of their own money as possible upfront.
To account for this added expense, many sellers have to increase the price of their land. The higher the price is, the less buyers will look at it and the longer it’s going to take to sell. And at the end of it, you’re getting less money in your pocket when you do find that buyer.
2. They Prefer Selling Homes Not Land
Realtors train to sell homes, and that’s what they’re hired to do most of the time. There are many reasons most agents prefer to sell houses, her are just a few:
- A property with a structure on it is more valuable than one that is just land – so agents earn higher commissions
- There are more buyers in the market for a home than there are for land so there is a higher volume of potential deals for agents by focusing on land
- It is easier for people to qualify for a house loan than a land loan – so there is less chance deals fall through
People respond to incentives and there is just plain more money to be made for agents by focusing on houses. So the majority of realtors aren’t experts in selling land. Their experience and knowledge with houses doesn’t bring anything to the table when they are trying to sell a piece of land.
3. Selling Your Land On Your Own Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
The rise of the internet has made advertising and selling your land a lot easier. In a few clicks, you can get in touch with potential land buyers.
There’s also less paperwork needed for selling land compared to existing houses, especially if you’re working with a cash buyer. It removes the financing and appraisal contingency that most realtor paperwork has. Selling your land yourself doesn’t have to be complicated.
4. Agents Lock You Down Via a Contract
A lot of the time, realtors want to lock you into a 6-12 month contract. If they aren’t doing their job to find a buyer it can be hard, if not impossible, to fire them. It also means if you find a buyer on your own without their help, you’re still liable to pay them the 10% commission.
There are some cases though where it might make sense to hire a realtor. Some types of vacant land would do better with a specialized agent. But you’ll want one with experience with that specific land type, who can handle the little nuances. These types of land include:
- Working farmland
- Hunting land
- Zoned commercial use land
- Large ranches
- Land with urban development planning approved
The majority of landowners have more “typical” types of lots. So, in most cases, the above land types won’t apply.
When Should You Skip Using Realtors to Sell Land Then?
With most of these “typical” lots there aren’t any extra nuances or difficulties to factor in. These are the times you should think of skipping using a Realtor (and saving that chunk of commission and the months it could take them to find a buyer). It will save you a lot of time and hassle if you can find a direct cash land buyer. Here are a few examples of when it might make sense to sell without a realtor:
When You’re in a Hurry to Sell Your Land
Sometimes life doesn’t go your way and you need to sell fast. Unexpected costs can come from all angles and at any time. Land is one of the most illiquid assets. Its not like having stock in a brokerage account. You can’t click a button to sell it. If you’re in a position where you need cash, offering your land for sale at a reduced price can entice a cash buyer.
You should also consider online cash buyers like us at SellLand.com. We’ll give you an offer on your land and if you like it, you could close the deal in most cases in 10-21 days. If you choose a buyer who relies on a bank loan, this could cause the deal to take 60-90 days to complete and there is still a big chance they could fall through at the last minute.
Your Land Value is Under $75,000
The average home price in the U.S. in 2021 is around $270,000. Realtors are hesitant to take on selling any property that is worth less than $75,000 because the commission they will earn just doesn’t stack up to what they could make selling a typical house. Realtors who specialize in land sales often state that a price of $20-25,000 is the upper limit for a typical cash buyer. For land worth over $25,000, your chances of finding an all-cash buyer go down exponentially
In instances where the value is over $75,000, a realtor could make sense but there are still drawbacks as discussed earlier. If your land is worth less than $75,000 though most agents won’t take it on. The ones that do will not spend as much time and care on selling your land because they can make more money selling a house or a higher priced property.
You Haven’t Had a Survey or Other Due Diligence Done
While there aren’t as many items to get completed as there are with existing houses, some things still need doing. For example, most buyers will ask for:
- A land survey
- A passed soil percolation test
- Details on what zoning or restrictions apply
- The costs to install utilities (power, water, sewer/septic)
If you don’t like the idea of having to add that to your to-do list, then an online land buyer is a good choice. These companies will buy land online and have with a hassle-free transaction process. All those extras, they take care of themselves.
How to Sell Vacant Land Without a Realtor
So now you know the differences and why you should consider selling land yourself let’s look at how you can do it. Read on for these tips to keep in mind and get you started.
1. Understand Your Buyer
Buyers looking at land usually already have an idea in their heads of what they are looking for. Ask them what their plans are, as it is a good start to finding out if your land can support that idea and their intended use.
If they’re looking to build a vacation home, point out the views and how close they are to local amenities. Whatever their plan is, focus on the positives your land can offer to support that dream and fit their plans.
When you understand the buyers who are most likely to buy your lot, you have an advantage. You can provide the information that will appeal to them the most and highlight it.
If it’s a young couple looking to build their family home, talk about local schools and shopping areas. Let them know the best child-friendly amenities/entertainment to seal the deal.
If other similar lots draw the attention of developers more, then talk raw stats. Give them demographics about the local area and what local buyers are looking for. This will help them decide if your land is worth their while.
2. Beware Buyers Who Need Owner Financing
A lot of land sellers provide financing to make the process go smoother. If you were selling your home, typically you wouldn’t take smaller, monthly payments to pay it off. The buyer would have to get a loan from the bank for the full amount minus their down payment.
Owners who sell their land might offer to finance so the buyer avoids taking a large loan. Instead, they pay you in those smaller monthly payments. Buyers avoid the credit, work history, and financial checks that banks carry out. Often times buyers that seek out owner financing are not the most credit worthy.
There is a risk here, so if you’re offering to finance you do need proof the monthly payments are doable on the buyer’s end. Can they actually afford the payment and are they committed to making it to you? Since private loans are not reported to credit bureaus they don’t show up on a credit report. Many buyers who fall on hard times will default on their land payments before they default on other bills like a mortgage or car payment that do show up on a credit report .
You also need to be careful they aren’t trashing the lot while they are making payments to you. We have owner financed lots to people in the past and had some serious headaches as a result. Some buyers will skip town and leave a bunch of old tires and other trash on the property which can costs thousands to clean up. We had another property where the buyers were dumping raw sewage out of their RV tank holding tank directly onto the open ground. We got fined by the county health authorities and the cost to clean it up was hefty.
Selling to a cash buyer eliminates all these concerns and allows you to move on quickly and cleanly.
3. Get Your Land Ready
As with existing homes, first impressions go a long way with land selling too. The added risk is that with land you have to work that much harder to impress a buyer without a beautiful move in house already in place.
A few minor things you can do are take the time to cut your grass, clean up any trash that may be by the road side from passing cars, and generally make it look as presentable as you can. Some owners even use wild, native flowers to add pops of color and aesthetic appeal to their lots. Other properties that are densely wooded might need a home site cleared of trees or a road cut into the property.
You need to make your lot stand out to potential buyers. Give them the best chance to envision how their new life will look on your property.
4. Get Your Marketing Right
There is no point in making your land look nice if people don’t know it’s for sale. Some good places to start placing sales ads include:
- A sign in the yard
- Classified ads websites
- Social media
- Local newspapers and news sites
- Flyers around town
Make sure you keep up your marketing too, one post here and there won’t be enough. People need to see things a few times before their mind registers it in full.
Include all the details in your post like location, size, and price as well as contact information. If it has development approval or any surveys, mention that too as it might appeal more to buyers. At the bare minimum, you want to give people an idea of the best use for the property.
5. Put Your Land on the Internet
As with shopping online, land and home buyers alike are turning more to the internet. Having your land posted online is essential, but the key is knowing where your buyers are looking. The top listing sites are businesses too and they often charge a fee to place the property on their site.
Land buyers can then search through lists of similar properties. Due to this fact, it’s even more important that you get your lot to shine above the rest.
You can also run facebook or pay per click google ads to get your property in front of land buyers.
6. Make Sure Your Land Stands Out From the Rest
Don’t post pictures of dirt and closeups of trees, this is the worst mistake you could make. Another big thing is showing a plat map as the onoly picture of the property. You’ll see it in most of the other listings and it’s not screaming excitement, is it?
When you’re taking pictures, make sure they’re inspiring to the imagination. Show what made you fell in love with and made you buy the land in the first place. Try to view your property with fresh eyes. What are the best features you want to highlight and which are the ones you’d rather not have people see first thing. You want to get creative with your marketing.
If the land is great for recreation, take a four-wheeler up there and get some epic shots of it in action. Or get the RV up there and show the family toasting smores over a bonfire.
If it’s hunting land, get some shots of the local wildlife. Install a game camera to capture the pictures automatically. Or get pictures of your big catch if it’s fishing property and the land sits on a river or lake or has a big pond on it.
For residential lots, include pictures of similar lots that already have homes. This will inspire buyers to see what could be possible on the land. It’ll help them picture how they would live here and what their dream home might look like.
7. Consider Aerial Videography & Photography
You don’t have to be a pro to use aerial videography and photography. There are experts on Facebook and Craiglist who can send a drone over your land to video it and take pictures.
This perspective helps to add depth to the property, something you can’t see from the ground. It’s also something a lot of sellers don’t do, so it’s a good step for making your property standing out from the rest.
8. Make Signage Easy to See
One of the most simple things you can do to draw in buyers is to have a professional sign made up. It might sound too simple, but we can’t stress the difference it can make.
Think of the amazing buyer experience you see in all the movies. They drive through their dream neighborhood, seeing your vacant lot for sale. It’s the perfect location, they fall in love with it and can envision the home they would build there. Without a sign, that experience isn’t possible.
The perfect sign would include the following:
- Lot address (if it has one)
- Lot size
- Phone number to text or call
- Website to find out more (your main advertising site)
Even if you don’t have your website, point them to the advertisement you have up on your site of choice. Of course, this will only work if you already have an ad posted.
If you don’t live close by, you can hire professional sign companies to put the sign up for you. Do a Google search for “real estate sign companies” in the state & county your land is in. You’re looking at around $100-$300 but it’s a worthwhile investment.
9. Take Viewings on Your Land
When someone makes contact about your land, arrange to show them around. You can point out the best features and handle any objections the buyers have on the spot. Show them where you could clear some trees to give a better a view. Show them the best spot to build a pond. You’ll also be the best person to answer any questions they might have about the property or neighborhood.
Many neighbors don’t like people poking around and they like the property being vacant. In our experience many will do their best to scare off any buyers you send out there.
This also keeps you in the loop and gives you instantaneous feedback, as you’ll hear straight from the buyers what they’re looking for. You know what’s important to them, helping inform your marketing strategy going forward. It might also point to any improvements you need to make to the property to get it sold.
10. Negotiate the Close
When you get someone who wants to buy the property, invite them to lay an offer on the table. Remember this isn’t a final offer, you’re both setting out your starting points.
The goal is to then meet in the middle and settle a deal that satisfies both parties. On your part, this could include lowering the price or adjusting the terms in other ways like doing some improvements to the property before the sale is closed. Or you could throw in another kind of incentive to sweeten the deal for the buyer.
11. Keep on Top of the Legalities
One reason people choose to use a realtor is they have fill in the blank contracts ready to go. They make sure all parties have protection and negotiate the tricky parts.
Make sure you do your research for who is responsible for what fees. Only then should you commit to a deal. The deals that have the most chance of closing are the ones that are clean, simple, and straightforward. If there are a lot of contingencies or complexities they are a lot of opportunities for a buyer to cancel or walk away without any repercussions. Then you’ve lost valuable time without anything to show for it.
Selling Land Without a Realtor the Easy Way
So, there you have it, now you’ve read this guide you know how to sell vacant land without a realtor. But the key thing to take away is that selling your land yourself is going to be time-consuming and its going to take work. Every job, from marketing, to calls, to viewings is on your shoulders.
If that sounds like too much hassle, then an online land buyer is a great option. It’s quick, easy, and hands-off while giving you a competitive price especially factoring in being able to sell the property As-is and save on realtor fees. Contact us today at SellLand.com to get started with your fair cash offer.