“Why in the world would I pay you a commission to help me sell my land?” This is a fair question for a landowner to ask. Let’s consider a few points, from a land agent’s perspective, on why an agent can be worth the money. I will grant that there are many savvy property owners that buy, sell, and trade land often. This type of owner loves to dicker and receives a thrill from each transaction. He may or may not need an agent’s help with his rural land for sale, as he has done a dozen or more deals on his own. The majority of landowners sell their land once in a lifetime, and having an experienced adviser when navigating these murky waters can be quite helpful. Consider several key ways an agent earns their commission.
1. Pricing your property accurately in the current market. An experienced agent will have the pulse of the current market in the area. They know the comparable sales history, and have a feel for what buyers are looking for and willing to pay. In the current market, I have seen buyers be sensitive within $100 to $200 an acre, so getting the right price is crucial to attracting buyer interest.
2. Marketing the property in media that buyers use. Placing an ad in the local newspaper may garner some interest, but one recent statistic says that over 80% of land buyers search for property online before going to look at land. As a landowner, can you afford to pay the monthly fees to advertise your one listing on land for sale sites, and which ones generate the best activity? A good agent will give your land exposure to buyers in many different forms.
3. Answering phone calls and showing the property. Are you willing to field the phone calls of every person that wants to cut off the front 1 acre of your 120 acre tract? How many times do you have to give up a Saturday or take off work, only to be stood up by someone before that gets old?
4. Negotiating and writing the contract. The realtor’s job really begins once the contract is written and the negotiations begin. Going back and forth with tact and integrity can be taxing on even the most seasoned agent. Navigating emotions and potential hiccups is essential if the deal is to be transacted. Many owners appreciate not having to feel the heat of negotiations and can let attachment to the property or other emotions cloud the business transaction.
5. Professional networks. This past week I had to have a survey performed on a parcel we have under contract. I got 5 quotes from different companies before we were able to select the best price and the fastest service. How much time do you want to devote to getting quotes from surveyors? You need an agent with a network of foresters, surveyors, closing attorneys, builders, home inspectors, appraisers, lenders, bull dozier operators, bushhog operators, and a host of other contacts that service landowners. When you select a good agent, you not only get her, you get her whole network at your disposal. Keeping all of these people motivated and on track so you can meet your closing date requres a great deal of effort and attention on the part of the agent.
6. Accuracy at closing. Do you know how to read a HUD 1 Settlement Form and make sure that all of the numbers add up? This can lead to costly mistakes or even the loss of a deal in a worst-case scenario. These forms can appear to be written in a different language to the uninitiated. The agent will contact you at least 24 hours ahead of the closing to go over the HUD 1 and also provide you for instructions on what you will need to bring or be prepared for at the closing table.
These are a few of the ways land agents earn their money. Generally a good agent will help you make or retain more money than their commission. If you are on the fence about whether to strike out on your own or to use an agent, give them a call and become more informed. Ask the agent why in the world you should pay them a commission and see what they say. If you’re in Alabama and are considering selling, I would love a chance to earn your business.
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