Selling Land

Terra Incognita

Terra Incognita

There is a craving in the human heart for mystery. We are paradoxically at the same time drawn to and afraid of the unknown. This craving to know has fueled exploration for centuries so man might identify unknown places on the earth’s surface, propelled man into space and to the moon, taken us to ocean depths, unlocked the human genome, and now has us searching the farthest reaches of our solar system. It is in us to know what was previously unknown.

The heart for exploration thrilled me as a boy. My brother, friends, and I rambled through the woods around our houses, through fields, in creeks and rivers. We were constantly pushing the bounds of what we previously knew of our little piece of the world. That love for seeing new places has taken me around the world, to see some of the most beautiful landscapes God ever created. That love for seeing new places, and the love for the land is one reason I am passionate about being a land broker.

Many of the people that I show properties to share this same love for experiencing the unknown. This is why they come to look at land. Google maps, MyTopo, County GIS maps, and the like are extremely helpful in understanding a property before you get there. But there is no substitute for the first time you put your boots in the soil on a new property. It enlivens the heart of an adventurer to stand on a riverbank and watch the majestic flow cascade by. Breaking a sweat traversing the contours of a hardwood-covered hillside dwarfs the knowledge you gain studying aerial and topo maps. There is no substitute for experiencing a piece of land, to really get to know it.

Terra Incognita means “Unknown Land” or “parts unknown”. For those who are drawn to nature, experiencing a piece of property and all the facets it offers is a thrill. It fuels us during the mundane duties and rituals we endure daily, and fills our thoughts until we can enter the wild again. I love terra incognita, and I am fortunate to experience new places weekly. When a buyer prospect comes to look at land with me, I am ever mindful of the dueling principles at play: they need enough information to make a good decision about the property, and they also need enough mystery to truly connect with a property by experiencing the land for themselves.

I believe that many of my customers buy a property only after they understand and experience it personally. For most buyers of a homestead property or recreational land, a property must “speak” to them, because it will likely be a place they craft and use for years. They will rear future generations of explorers on this property. It is in many respects the place where they will leave their legacy. Our family farm is the place where we encourage our children to continually push the boundaries of what they previously knew. “What is over the next hill?” “Where does that trail go?” “Where does this stream originate?” There is a maturity of life and soul that an explorer displays. Not much rattles or confounds someone who has continually confronted the unknown and returned to tell the tales.

The spirit of those who love Terra Incognita agrees with what they read here. This is one reason why I feel there will continue to be a strong demand for good land brokers in the future. Drone videos, satellite aerial maps, and countless other innovations will not override the innate spirit of adventure by exploration that lies within the human heart. It takes boots on the ground, touching boundary corners, crossing streams, climbing hills to learn to love a piece of property. If you love the land, and the adventure of learning a new property, you get the message of this article. My hope is that you find a little piece of the unknown to enjoy this week. Be sure to take someone with you so you can help them learn to love the land like you do.

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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, writing articles focused on helping people buying and selling rural land.

1 Comment

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  • Jonathan:
    You’ve touched on what’s special about land – especially for hunting, recreational and homesteaders. It’s not just dirt, a commodity…the land you love releases feelings that are hard for most of us to describe. Fortunately, we’re able to provide more information than ever on a property before physically experiencing it, but there’s no substitute for exploring all the nooks and cranny’s for youself.

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