Driving down the road you see a Land for Sale sign. You stop, pull in, look at the sign and then since there is no gate you just pull on in off the road. You get out of your vehicle, start looking around and the next thing you know you are halfway across the section enjoying the day and checking out the views. Sounds innocent enough right? Unfortunately, wrong! You have been trespassing since you first stepped foot onto the property.
An agent that sent me a referral once said that the only reason he called me to offer the referral is because of my sign he noticed on a property. It said in bold letters “Land for Sale” but slightly smaller and not nearly as bold at the bottom it said No Trespassing, No Hunting. The referring agent said that the owner wanted someone to list his property but that did not mean he wanted an open house all day every day.
If you were looking for homes would you just pull in someone’s driveway, get out and start walking around the house? Maybe even go look around on the porch because the door was open? Probably not so why is it that most people think that a Land for Sale sign gives them free reign to walk around on someone else’s property without calling for an appointment? Maybe because we all have a sense that the land is wide open and free and it just happens. Maybe. Maybe not.
I think most people have a condition that sets in when they start driving down a rural county road called “Good Manners Amnesia.” They forget that the very reason they want a place in the country to enjoy, hunt, fish or whatever is probably the same reason the people selling it bought it in the first place. One day I was at some land talking with the owner and his family. They were getting ready to have a picnic by the pond and go fishing with the grandkids. They had asked me to stop by as they knew I was going to be in the area. The ponds were in a hidden area of the property and driving down the road you would have not seen us back there. As I was getting ready to leave my phone rang and a prospective buyer said they were looking at my sign on the road and asked some questions about the land. Then they said we’ll just go walk around and look at it and let you know if we are interested. I informed them they would need to setup an appointment for another time as today was not going to work for them to enter the land. They said thanks and that they would call back another time and hung up. As I started driving back up the wooded trail I nearly ran into them because they had started driving down the lane. Apparently they had experienced memory loss from our phone conservation just moments earlier regarding setting up an appointment to view the land.
Although it is tempting to just take a quick look at a piece of land; buyers need to remember that their unfamiliarity with a property could lead them to experience some unpleasant surprises. Once I had a buyer call me to ask if I knew the number to the nearest tow truck service. Didn’t see that gulley wash did you? I have had the Sheriff’s Department call me because my sign was at a gate that a buyer left open and horses were running up and down the highway. That buyer’s offer was refused by the seller every time before the buyer finally realized that just paying the vet bill for the horse’s cut leg was not an apology. I have had neighboring land owners call me to say that they reported poachers who had told him they were just looking at the land but left hours later with their loot. Which by the way, if you are caught illegally hunting may cause you to be ban from hunting in several states due to the wildlife enforcement compact! All of these situations happened because the potential buyer took it upon themselves to go on the land without making an appointment. The trouble they caused could have been avoided completely if they simply had called for showing instructions.
I highly recommend that all prospective land buyers call the number on the land for sale signs and make an appointment before going on any land especially during hunting season for their own safety.
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