I am not going to work with every person that calls or emails me about buying land. Because time is our most precious and limited resource, land agents have to be selective about who we put in the truck and go look at properties with.
A phone conversation with a new agent and an email from a prospective buyer prompted me to write about what most agents won’t actually say to someone in person. So I will be the scapegoat here, and you can pin it on me. Here are some criteria that prompt me to cull a prospect or pass them on to another agent. I do not refuse to work with someone because of their race, religion, nationality, familial status, disability, or sex. The reasons I pass on prospective buyers are subjective and necessarily practical.
1. The Eternal Looker- When someone tells me that they have been looking for a rural property in my area for two years or more, that is an immediate red flag. There are more properties on the market now than any time in recent memory. If they haven’t found the right tract and they have been seriously looking for a long time, then I don’t get my hopes up that I will be the lucky one to find it for them.
The new agent I spoke with today had a prospect that wanted to look at some properties, and called about one I have listed. I asked him who the prospect was, and it was someone that contacted me about a year ago. I fed the prospective buyer information about several tracts, with no action. So I moved on to the next buyer. These buyers are still looking “for the right place” and now have been talking to this new agent for a couple of months running him up and down the road. I wish both the agent and the buyers good luck in their efforts. The agent and I discussed how expensive it is to buy gas to continually show land to people who don’t appear to be close to pulling the trigger on a property any time soon.
2. Mr. Big Bucks- If a prospective buyer volunteers their net worth in the first two or three sentences of our initial conversation, it’s a 99% probability I won’t make a sell. The only time serious land buyers generally volunteer how much money they have to spend is when they are doing a 1031-exchange. In my experience some people want you to know they have a lot of money, but odds are good I won’t actually be seeing any of it involved in a land transaction. Think about when you go in to purchase a car; you don’t want to tell that salesman how much money you have. The salesman is much less inclined to cut a deal if they feel that they could get more from you. The same idea holds true in land sales.
3. The Imaginative Financer- Times are tough, and financing can be difficult to acquire for many people. The buyer I don’t want to deal with is the one that lets me know they don’t have any cash, and they would like the seller to use some creativity to finance the property. Owner financing can be a good option for people at times, but this particular type of buyer concocts the most imaginative, least-probable proposals that I hate to present to my sellers. This buyer can’t understand why a seller would not want to agree to a no-money down, 20-year personal loan at no interest with a balloon payment at the end. In his mind this offer sounds like a winner, so he insists on penning a contract with so many financing wrinkles that AIG would like to take notes.
Most buyers I deal with are great people, and share the same love for the outdoors and land that I do. Even the prospective buyers that I pass on to other people are generally good folks. The issue is not whether someone is likable or not, but it has everything to do with making a wise investment of my time and resources. A land agent has enough work that he could fill up all the hours of the week, every week. But there is a difference between busyness and productivity. That is the reason why most of the successful land agents are very selective in who they work with.
If you are a buyer who seems to be ignored or getting shuffled from one agent to another, then you may not be viewed as the best return on investment for an agent. Do yourself a favor and reflect on what you are really looking for in a property, if you can really afford it, and if you are ready to pull the trigger. If you can answer all of those questions honestly and concisely, then you are the type of buyer we are all looking for.
Other agents, I welcome your comments or feedback.
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