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Considerations

The decision to sell property is an important matter with potentially long-term financial implications. Land is a valuable asset. As a property owner, you should be fully informed of the options, benefits and risks inherent in every transaction.

At first glance, selling rural property may seem like a simple affair. Put up a sign at the property, run a newspaper ad, wait for the right buyer to call, collect the money, and sign over the deed.

However, there are a wide variety of pitfalls into which an unsuspecting seller can tumble. Here are some "points to ponder" as you think about selling your land. We'd be glad to discuss how we can help you avoid these pitfalls.

Determine the potential for your property

  • Decide how much of your land you want to sell and how you can market it for the greatest benefit.
  • Think about how your property can be used: farm, ranch, recreation, single home site, housing development?
  • Should you sell it as one tract - or divide it into several tracts? What about restrictions?
  • What features or improvements - natural or manmade - should be emphasized to heighten your land's market value?

Think about the price you should ask

  • Do you know local market values?
  • Be objective. Price the property right. Pricing too high scares away buyers. A property that lingers on the market acquires a stigma that makes it more difficult to sell. Pricing too low leaves money on the table and decreases your profit.
  • Think about seeking an outside appraisal. Find out what your property is worth in the current market situation.

Make a list of "things to think about"

  • Should you build that pond or lake? Fill in that wash? Tear down that old barn? Will spending money on improvements now net you more at sale time?
  • Will a new survey be needed? Who pays for it? Which surveyors do quality work at a reasonable cost?
  • What about selling any timber: all or part, pine or hardwood, thin or clear-cut, clean up, replant ...? Should you cut the timber now or leave that decision to the new buyer? Who can give you objective advice to maximize your profit?
  • Will reserving all or part of the minerals hinder a sale? What about surface leases?
  • Can you direct potential buyers to lenders who make rural property loans?

Advertise

  • Is there enough drive-by traffic to justify a professional sign on the property?
  • Should you use the newspaper? Weekly shopper ads? Radio? Flyers taped on grocery store windows?
  • There are a thousand-and-one ways to spend your advertising dollars and miss your target. Determine your potential buyer - and focus on him.

Screen potential buyers — but be available

  • When someone responds to your ad, don't waste time showing your land to people who have no realistic chance of buying it. Be sure you tactfully qualify buyers without risking an unintended insult.
  • Be readily available to show your property to serious prospects. Also, keep your personal safety in mind with strangers.

Know how to negotiate

  • Most buyers will want to counter your asking price or try to negotiate other concessions. If you stick to your guns, will you lose a sale? If you give in, how much is too much?
  • Are you the best person to negotiate for your property? Are you objective, knowledgeable, experienced? Could a professional help you make better decisions and maximize your profit?

Take care of the legal details

  • Can you handle the legal paperwork? You need to know what disclosures the law requires a seller to provide to a buyer.
  • Be aware of all processes, documents and timetables required to properly execute a sale. Follow through on all appraisals, title work, contracts, earnest money, deeds, insurance, closing documents.
  • If you use a lawyer, be sure he or she is familiar with land sales. The greatest criminal or class action attorney in town may not have the expertise you need when you're selling land.

Think about engaging a Realtor

  • Many people who try to sell their own land wish they hadn't tried. They simply don't have the time, knowledge or experience it takes to get the most from a sale
  • A good Realtor is a trained professional who keeps up with market conditions and can advise you on how your property can best be marketed.
  • A good Realtor has access to advertising resources that are not available to an individual, such as Multiple Listing Service, Realtor.com internet site, cross-reference to other buyer databases.
  • A Realtor is experienced at screening "lookers" to uncover potential "buyers."
  • A Realtor can show your property for you, negotiate on your behalf, and handle all legal and paperwork issues.

A Final Question: "If I sell my land myself, won't I save the amount of the Realtor's commission?"

Not necessarily. Besides the fact that someone - either you or the Realtor - has to do all the work outlined in the steps above - think about this:

Most people who respond to a "For Sale By Owner" offer expect to buy at a lower price. If you sell your property for less than its market value or forfeit money through ignorance or mistakes, you could lose far more than the commission you're trying to save.

It's Your Land — And Your Decision

Think carefully about the time, skill and money involved. When you're ready to sell your land to provide for your future, consider the advantages of having a professional, experienced Realtor do the job for you. It's probably the most important decision you'll make once you've decided to sell.

Continue reading Some benefits of having Farrell & Boswell Realty help you sell your country property.

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