Selling Land

Landowners- "Trails Help Make the Sell"

Landowners- "Trails Help Make the Sell"If I could impart two pieces of simple wisdom to landowners about increasing your odds of selling your property they would be: (first) price your property correctly and (second) build and maintain a good internal road or trail system to let prospective buyers see what you are offering.

Owners or agents will find it easier to effectively show a property to a prospect if there is an adequate means of navigating the land. Buyers do not respond well to an agent pointing and saying “And just over there is a nice creek”. It is infinitely better when an agent pulls up to the creek and cuts the engine so the buyers can enjoy the sounds of the ripples on the rocks. Below are a few suggestions for building or improving trail systems to help sell your land.

At a minimum you need a trail system that a four wheeler can navigate easily. Trails of this nature should be at least 4 feet wide with all overhanging limbs and vines (that could unseat a rider) trimmed neatly to the edges. A step above the four wheeler trail is a small road that can be used by UTV’s. One of the best ways to show a property is in a “buggy” like a Polaris Ranger, Yamaha Rhino, or Bad Boy Buggy. These lanes need to be at least 6-8 feet wide to allow for easy passage to the important parts of your property. Many wooded properties will already have fire lanes around the perimeters of the tract or at least the margins of the timbered areas. Some forestry services recommend lanes of 10-20 feet in width to prevent the spread of fires. These lanes are excellent avenues for showing property when properly maintained.

Trail systems should provide access to the highlights of your tract such as creeks, property boundaries, ponds, food plots, caves, and scenic overlooks . Stream crossings are extremely helpful, and I find that your odds of hooking a buyer increase as you get the tires wet driving through a flowing waterway. Build roads so that you maximize the time spent observing the pretty parts of the land. Whenever possible construct trail networks so that you never have to backtrack, because this makes the property feel much larger to the buyer.

Four wheeler trails can be built using only a chainsaw and loppers. You may need to hire a dozier to push in some roads, particularly if your property has significant elevation changes. It is important to slope the roads for drainage and to build waterbars to prevent the erosion of your investment. In a densely wooded or shrubby area you might consider bringing in a woodland mulcher to carve out roads and foodplots. These mulchers are amazing and can turn mature trees into toothpicks in seconds. The rate for the mulcher may be a little more per hour than a dozier, but the finished product from an experienced operator often justifies the extra expense.

The bottom line is that you need an effective means of showing off the key features of your property to potential buyers. Investing in a good internal road network will pay off, and in this market can help distinguish your property from others that are competing for your buyer.

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About the author

Jonathan Goode

Jonathan is passionate about helping people buy and sell land. He is an associate broker with Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. Jonathan is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC), working with Southeastern Land Group (AlaLandCo) since 2008, serving Alabama and Mississippi. He is a member of the Alabama and Mississippi chapters of the Realtor’s Land Institute (RLI), and is currently serving as Vice President of the Alabama Chapter. Jonathan specializes in marketing rural properties online, and is a contributor for LANDTHINK.com, writing articles focused on helping people buying and selling rural land.

6 Comments

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  • What a tremendous article. In the ranch real estate business this is one thing I find myself telling landowners over and over. It’s all about access! Great article.

    Charlie Middleton
    Chas. S. Middleton and Son
    Farm and Ranch Real Estate Since 1920

  • Mr. Middleton,

    Thank you for the positive feedback. A good road/trail system makes a property so much more appealing to a prospective buyer and allows an agent to effectively show the attractive features of a property. Convincing an owner to invest the resources can be difficult, but it is often money well spent.

    Jonathan

  • Great article that applies directly to the land business in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! Trails are almost always an incredible asset to a property. Up here, trails can also provide an excellent addition to the winter wood pile while adding value to an investment. I’ll finish by echoing Mr. Middleton’s comments, most of the time – access sells.

  • Dead On! Great article that truly ehoes what we talk with our clients about daily. Providing professional advice to our clients includes key enhancements that improve the economic value & buyer appeal…roads & trails are chief among those…thanks for a your insightful reminder.

  • This is a good idea if you are a local landowner,however if you are a out of state landowner this makes your property eyecandy for trespassers.

  • Interesting article. Thanks! It’s certainly a plus to have some accessability when showing land, especially to the features of a property such as live water.

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