What is the best way a land owner can assist their real estate agent with selling a piece of land? I like to use the analogy of hiring an airplane pilot to convey some of the best things you can do to aid your agent.
Suppose you were going to hire a pilot to fly your jet from Atlanta, Georgia to Los Angeles, California. This pilot was going to fly your plane and your cargo cross-country, for you. You would want to give the pilot the best chance of success to complete this task for you. This scenario is very similar to what happens when you hire a land broker to assist you with the sale of a property. You want them to get you from listing to the closing table with as little difficulty, and under the most favorable conditions possible. Make sure the plane is fueled, well-maintained, and ready for travel. The same is true with handing the keys to your property over to the real estate agent.
But what often happens, once a seller engages a real estate agent to sell their land, is that the communication up front is not clear, or the seller starts making changes to the property or the way the property is offered for sale. When a seller decides that their price is non-negotiable, that could be equivalent to removing the landing gear. The broker may still be able to get a deal done, but the landing may be a little rough. When a seller decides to exclude mineral rights or retain some interest (timber, water rights, cell tower, etc…) in the land for sale, that can be akin to removing a wing from the plane. It is very difficult to fly a plane and land safely without a wing.
Give your land broker the best chance to get you from listing to the closing table by doing a few simple things:
- Provide the necessary information to the agent at the time of the listing. Furnish your agent with any copies of important documents that you may have such as: survey, timber cruise, recent appraisal, government program contracts, leases, or deeds. Having this information from the outset will make the process go much more smoothly and gives you the best chance for success. Also furnish the names of any prospects you think may be a good candidate for the property.
- Have title work done at the start of the listing, if title is in doubt. Title problems will “crash” your deal as quickly as any other issue that you can encounter in land sales. If there are multiple owners, or if there is any uncertainty about the ability to provide a clear and merchantable title to the property, spend a few hundred dollars to determine with certainty the status of the title.
- Make the property easy to access and show. Allow your agent to show the property at reasonable times and with as much frequency as needed to sell your property. If you hamper the ability for your agent or cooperating brokers to show your property, it limits the possibility of success. Also, continue to maintain roads and trails that allow the property to be shown to prospective buyers. “You can’t sell what you can’t show.”
- Communicate often. The seller and agent should talk frequently about the property, how the marketing is going, and what can be done to improve the chances of making the sale. This could include a price reduction, contacting a specific new prospect that the seller knows about, or offering the property in a different configuration. One great thing to discuss is if anything has changed since you last spoke. Have there been any issues with the pond, was there a fire in the pine trees, anything that might make a difference in how the property needs to be marketed or what needs to be discussed with prospective buyers.
These are a few simple points that will help your real estate agent help you sell your property. Your land broker is your partner in the process of selling the land. In most circumstances, neither of you gets paid until the mission is accomplished. Working together by doing the simple things mentioned above, sets you and your agent up for success.
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