Selling Land

Sellers! Help Your Buyers

I looked at a small wooded tract a couple of weeks ago.

Before visiting, I asked the seller if he had a deed that he could send me so that I could run the calls through a deed-mapper program to check the acreage. He said that he did, but that he would not provide it. “Go get it at the courthouse,” he said. The courthouse was a five-hour drive away. I asked for the deed book and page number, so that I could phone in a request. “Look it up,” he said.

Most questions were met with stonewalls and an I’m-too-busy-to-be-bothered attitude.

What advantage could this seller have thought he might be achieving by acting this way? Beats me.

I’m reading an excellent book on negotiating by Steve Cohen, Negotiating Skills for Managers, McGraw-Hill, 2002, $14.95. Steve runs The Negotiation Skills Company outside of Boston, which provides professional negotiators and assistance.

Sellers will help themselves in negotiations by being civil, helpful and honest.

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About the author

Curtis Seltzer

Curtis Seltzer is a land consultant, columnist and author of How To Be a DIRT-SMART Buyer of Country Property and Land Matters: The “Country Real Estate” Columns, 2007-2009.


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  • I thought the axiom “the more you tell, the more you sell” is a good idea. It’s amazing to me to see a listing with a one-sentence description that is vague with no price and a phone number. If I can’t resist calling, I have found that there’s maybe a 50/50 chance that the agent will call back. Many on the MLS here don’t even have the basic link to a map.

    Thanks for the site. Your articles are welcome and informative.

  • Thanks for the comment.

    I don’t understand the logic in under-representing a property in its initial description on a website like or on a broker’s page. It simply encourages wasting time by all parties–buyers, sellers and brokers.

    As a seller, I’m always ready to load up a knowledgeable buyer with information on the property–good and bad. I try to weed out tirekickers before investing time and energy in them. When a buyer asks me sensible, informed questions, I do my all out best to get whatever information is asked for. as quickly as I can.

    I also find that when I inquire about properties that are still advertised but have been sold, brokers rarely follow up with me about similar properties. There’s just silence.

    The one thing that sellers and brokers can control in our current economic tailspin is their degree of helpfulness. Why would anybody do otherwise?

    Great axiom.


    Curtis Seltzer

  • Earlier this year a prospective buyer contacted me about a listing I was advertising in a local paper. He had contacted several other agents for information about their listings, but only one of out of the half dozen he called returned his calls. He had 1031 money he wanted to spend right away, so I loaded him up in my truck, and we spent two days riding the roads and looking at 5 different tracts in the Mule. The next week I wrote the contract and we closed within 10 days. How busy does an agent in this market have to be to not return calls for a buyer with over $500,000 cash in his pocket? If you are that agent, I will be happy to handle any of your referrals in Alabama!

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