Selling Land

Agent 911 – How Can a Seller Help Their Agent?

Agent 911 – How Can a Seller Help Their Agent?

In today’s market, many properties are competing for the attention of a relatively small pool of buyers. In many instances, properties are getting no attention whatsoever. I know that some properties garner a great deal of attention, so I know there are some willing buyers in the market. The key is positioning your property for sale in a manner so as to reach out to the pool of able, and willing buyers. Many sellers throw stumbling blocks out in front of their agent and marketing plans.

The largest stumbling block that sellers trip up their marketing with is pricing. They are afraid to ask too little, and not have any negotiating room when they get a potential buyer or they have the notion that they should pocket full market value for a property and anything an agent should make will have to be on top of that amount. So the result is they get no interest, no buyers, and no negotiations to use that built-in padding that they were so adamant they must have. In a buyer’s market, this is a failed strategy. The greatest agents in the world cannot reach into a buyer’s pocket and pull his money out for him…at least not in a buyer’s market. That’s what we are in, a buyer’s market. They hold the aces in today’s market. A buyer who is financially able to complete a transaction is a valuable asset to an agent. That buyer tends to be a bit more savy than the buyer who has more money than sense that sellers seem to be looking for. This is the first and biggest, but there are others. If you want to read more on pricing, take a look at my article from October 2010, Selling Land or a Farm? Get Serious on Pricing. If you want to help your agent get the property sold, get serious on pricing. The list price needs to be a price that the market is willing to support. Buyers are simply not looking at anything they perceived to be over-priced.

Sellers, listen to your agents. If you have a good agent, they will have advice on things that can be done to the property to get it sold. If you have an agent that has experience in selling your type of property, then they have seen things that worked and things that did not. It’s likely they have been involved in more transactions of your type of property than you have. You hired them for their expertise. Don’t handicap them by discounting what they tell you. Remember, their goal is to sell the property for the highest possible price in the shortest time possible, which is probably your goal too.

Here are a few more suggestions on things that you can do that will help your agent sell your property.

1. Remove items from the property that do not sell with it. If it’s not what is being sold, it’s clutter that will distract a potential buyer from the business at hand. Automobiles, ATV’s, storage buildings, and certainly anything that is considered as refuse. Buyers are completely turned off by the prospects of having to clean up your junk. They have their own to put in it’s place.

2. If you have an entryway into the property make sure it is neat and attractive. Make sure the entryway gates, if any, are in good repair and fill in that mudhole that is right in the roadway at the property entrance. In land, just as with houses, you must think about curb appeal…the potential buyer’s first thoughts about the property when they arrive. If you property does not have an entryway, consider constructing one that will control access to and from the property and give the property the look of something that is cared for. This can usually be done inexpensively and will pay big returns.

3. If you cannot ride over 75% of the property in a 4×4 vehicle, consider some trail construction. Constructing a 4×4 trail through a wooded area with a small bulldozer is usually very cost effective. Your agent is going to have a hard time selling something the buyers can’t see…most buyers are not willing to walk a half mile to see some aspect of the property until they have become VERY interested in it otherwise.

4. If the property needs to be surveyed, go ahead and get that done. Have the lines very well marked at least. Buyers want to be able to see the boundaries, know what’s inside the boundaries, and what’s not. Imagine yourself looking at a property and the guy trying to sell it to you says that the boundary is somewhere over there, and that corner is somewhere within a few hundred feet of here. You would want to know specifically, not generally. Make sure your agent is familiar with those boundaries.

5. If you are one of those sellers who is trying to sell a property without your neighbors knowing, get over it. Let the agent put up a good sign on the property and talk to all the neighbors. Many times they may be the source of the best leads to sell the property. They will eventually figure it out anyway.

6. If you have photos of the property in different seasons, give them to the agent and ask them to make them available to potential customers. That’s not something an agent can usually get on his own. Also photographs of game on the property or harvested on the property. These are things that wildlife-aware buyers will value.

7. If it is a timber property with significant timber value, get a timber cruise done by a registered forester and provide this information to the agent and potential buyers. It takes the guesswork out of timber valuation for them. Buyers guess low.

8. In properties with open fields and pastures, keep them reasonably mowed. A properly maintained field is one of the prettiest sights rural America has. Even buyers of wooded land get pepped up by a neatly maintained field on the property. It has a way of making a buyer feel like they know more about the property. It’s hard to get this advantage if you are looking out the truck window, eye-level with the briars and weeds.

9. In properties where there is a major water feature like a creek, pond, or river, make sure there is a place to easily access the water…a place where the agent can get the buyer out and to the water’s edge…maybe even throw a line in the water.

10. Make sure your agent understands the valuable aspects of the property by providing it to him in writing. If you really want to be helpful, format it so that he can hand it straight to a potential buyer. Think like you are selling the property to your agent. Your agent will appreciate it and talk about your property more than the others if he is “sold” on the property.

All of these suggestions are things that real land brokers have been telling their sellers for years. Savy sellers listen. Savy sellers are selling property for decent prices, even in today’s market. Many of the above improvements will not only shorten your marketing time and improve your chances of selling, but will also improve your property value…most of them more than the cost of getting them done.

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About the author

Robert King

Robert is a Land Agent with Southeastern Land Group. He specializes in helping buyers and sellers of farms, poultry operations, and timberland throughout Alabama and Georgia. Robert is a regular contributor on The Land Show radio program and the Southeastern Land Group Blog.


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  • Good advice here Robert. The less imagination a prospective buyer has to use, the better the position for the seller.

  • TIP # 1 – Especially important with todays buyer. Nobody wants your JUNK !!

    With todays high scrap prices clean-up is easy to get accomplished and may pay $$.

    While looking at farms with old, worn out machinery , cars, trucks, irrigation pivots sitting in the fence rows, I am mentally discounting those acres.

    If the farm is mowed up and trimmed, no junk, slick & shiney then I am looking at the work of a good manager and thinking that this farm is worth more to me. Its a human reaction.

  • Excellent observations and check list Robert!

    Pricing is indeed crucial. This becomes more difficult when land sellers suffer from “market nostalgia”. This is really the crux of it in a “buyer’s market”. The carefully chosen (sometimes subtle..sometimes with cannon fire) ways to convince an owner that what his or her property was worth 2..3..5 years ago, is not even a consideration now.

  • This article is not only good for sellers but also for us as land broker, I have to say that I am learning a lot from you USA LAND BROKERS/AGENTS and very much appreciate LANDTHINK.

    In San Quintin BC Mexico, the majority of the times it is hard or almost impossible for the owner to make any improvements for they are local fisherman with very low income who got BIG parcels of land for free from the Federal government in 1960, but what is comforting is that they are willing to lower their prices to adapt to the market’s demand , in the last 4 weeks I had to call many of them suggesting to lower their prices in order to get their property sold, and it worked, we have attack buyers attention and are in the process of negotiation, I was so close to just walk away from this listings.

    Gracias Robert for taking the time to write this note, I learn a lot from people like you who are willing to share their experience and knowledge with others.

  • Thank you all for your comments. We need some common sense to prevail in the market. Lately, I have been dealing with some potential buyers that seem to be lacking in that department…that’s another article though!

  • I could have not stated anything in this article better than you did! I needed to have some validation on this subject and it will be a great resource to pass on to clients from a third party. Thank you for the insight. I am truly enjoying Land Think!

  • We’ve done what we can from the above list, but that still leaves us on the market for 3 years with no (bonafide, not fruitcake) interest in the property. I did want to share our personal experience re: telling the neighbors.

    In our particular situation, a neighbor 2 parcels over was a particularly kind man, one who would change a flat tire on a stranger’s truck just because he saw it needed doing. He was mowing our 1/2 mile of grass road for us, just because he liked to mow and he liked to help the neighbors he liked. He didn’t like all of his neighbors, and he was afraid that new buyers in the area might not be as “good people” as we are.

    Well, when we put the property on the market, the free road maintenance stopped, and after 3 years of schlepping a mower 700 miles on a trailer 4 times a year to keep the road in decent shape, that’s been quite a pain. Local people have quoted us $500 to mow the road one time, or $3000 a year to maintain it. No, those aren’t quite friendly prices, especially compared to free.

    As you say, he would have found out eventually, and in fact they moved away about 2 months ago. But, I have always wondered if we might not have sold by now if that road looked as great as it did when he kept it mowed regularly.

  • Joe,

    I have dealt with properties that seem to be for sale forever. Most times those properties are over-priced, or have more value in improvements to the land than the local market will truly value. (Overbuilt). If these are not the case with your property, and I would strongly encourage you to give an honest look at price, then you need to look at the different aspects of your marketing. Make sure that it is EASY for people to make an appointment to see the property. Make sure that the property is included on land listing sites like Make sure that you are providing plentiful information about the property. Today’s buyer wants to know all that is knowable about a property prior to setting foot on it. Make it easy for your real buyer to like the property. If it has been on the market that long, I would bet that you originally started trying to sell in a much better market, with a much different selling philosophy than will work today. Prices have downward pressure. To sell quickly, you have to get ahead of that pressure…price slightly below market. I know you do not want to hear that, but it may be the only solution for a few more years. Temper all of this with advice from your knowledgeable, experienced, local agent that sells rural properties…

  • More excellent information Robert. Thanks for sharing. If I may build on your comments, I have found (in over 2 decades of real estate sales) that seeking ways to differentiate and perhaps even present a property as “the shiniest apple in the barrel”, as well as properly priced works well. To that end I have a professional photographer create a Virtual Tour for my land offerings. since few (if any) other real estate professionals are investing in this for “just land”, my listings do stand out and raise the noise level and ultimately sell in an exceptionally competitive market.

  • Lee,

    I have done the same types of virtual tours myself. It’s a time investment, but I have found them very effective in getting attention to a property. Making a property stand out is what every agent should be doing…some are better than others though!

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