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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