Index of Articles

 

Are you interested in LAND?  Then you might find one of these Homestead.org articles handy:

Homestead Woodlot Management by Doug Smith

Yesterdayís Fence for Todayís Homestead by Kathryn Wingrove

Living with Poison Oak by Wade Truex

Homestead Prepping: Buying a B.O.L. by Doug Smith

Attract Wildlife to Your Property by Doug Smith

Crofting Life by Magdalena Perks

Buying Land at a Tax Auction by Neil Shelton

How to Sell Your Land Yourself and Move on with Your Life by Neil Shelton

How to do a Genuinely Hafast Job of Surveying Your Own Land by Neil Shelton

Dendrology Demystified - A Tree Tutorial by D. Glenn MIller

Dendrology Demystified: A Tree Tutorial - Part Two by D. Glenn Miller

You CAN Afford Your Homestead Dream, Part I by Tony Colella

You CAN Afford Your Homestead Dream, Part II by Tony Colella

Trees: Bringing It All Together by Gin Getz

Bream, Bass, & Butterflies - Multi-use Ponds by Ed Mashburn

How to Buy Land Very Cheaply by Neil Shelton

The Ideal Country Home by Gene Gerue

 

 

 

How to Sell Your Land Yourself and Move on with Your Life

Everything you need to sell your land yourself except patience and a willing buyer.

by Neil Shelton

There is no other single aspect of homesteading which more completely captures the homesteaderís imagination than the selection and purchase of land.

Sometimes however, on the way to acquiring the ideal tract of land, many folks, for whatever reasons, wind up owning the less-than-ideal parcel that needs to be sold before naturalistic nirvana can be achieved. 

Whether you inherited a piece of property that doesnít mesh with your goals, discovered that you simply need to live in another part of the country, or even if you bought a piece of property and later just fell out of love with it, selling land, particularly in todayís market, can appear to be a daunting task.  The amateurís first reaction is usually to list with a real estate agent and hope for the best.

Now, far be it from me to discourage using an agent.  This certainly is the easiest way and not necessarily the least profitable or most expensive, especially in a booming market.  In a market such as todayís however; more of a murmur than a boom, listing your property with an agent may subject it to comparisons with dozens, perhaps hundreds of other listings, all competing with yours in features and price.

If you have unimproved land to sell, you may also find that the majority of agents are more interested in selling more expensive improved properties where they stand to make much larger commissions and get fewer ticks, so your forty acres of woods may get short shrift when it comes to exposure to the market.  This wouldn't be such a big problem were it not for the fact that these days, more and more brokers are insisting on exclusive listing contracts that obligate you to pay them a commission even if you sell the property yourself to the fellow next door.

Thatís why you may want to tackle the job on your own.  These days, you can set  your land apart from the crowd by marketing and selling it yourself.  Since the advent of the internet, itís easier and more effective than ever, and the phrase "for sale by owner" has a particular cachet about it that buyers like.  Many buyers assume that they'll be saving the sales commission by buying directly from the owner.  Of course, you're probably assuming that you're saving the sales commission by selling it yourself.  Which of you is correct depends on how you handle your sale.

 EVALUATING YOUR LAND

The first step is to decide on your price.  The timid choose a price too low, and the foolish pick one too high.  What you want to do is find the right price that will yield a reasonably quick sale, but not generate a stampede of tightwads to your door.

To determine, or appraise the value of land, you need comparables.  Using the internet, finding these is easier than itís ever been, although there are also a few new pitfalls.

The best places to find your comparables are the places where you plan to advertise.  In a moment Iím going to recommend that you advertise on the internet, so you shouldnít be surprised if thatís where I recommend you gather your comparables as well.

In choosing comparables, you want as many tidbits of information as you can find Ė thatís the primary reason why the web is the best source, because the people writing the advertisements there arenít usually paying by the word - although you'll find that they can be infuriatingly vague..

Here are the basic things that must be considered when appraising land:

Size: the fact that you find 80 acres, or 8,000 selling for so much per acre tells you virtually nothing about what your 8 acres is worth, so ignore it. 

Rather, classify your property somewhat like this: is it from 0 to 3 acres? 3 to 8? 8 to 15? 15 to 40?  Of course it canít be all that cut-and-dried, but remember to only compare your rural property to others of about the same size Ė nothing has greater bearing on the value of land than size, except, to a degree, location.  

Please note that I am NOT going to repeat the old saw about the the three most important things to know about real estate.  Unless you spent your formative years in a cave, youíve already heard it enough times to make you wish you hadnít.

Iíll assume that, as an adult who can read and operate a computer, you already know that the price of your 40 acres in western Kansas has very little to do with the value of New Yorkís Central Park, but you do need to make a distinction between a property thatís a thirty-minute drive from a city and one thatís two hours distant.

Iíve found that most people draw an invisible line at a thirty-minute commute whether theyíre commuting into L.A. or Buzzardís Bluff.

Additionally, you shouldnít compare land from outside your region.  West-coast prices arenít applicable to West Virginia, and vice versa. 

Okay, that takes care of the broadest measures, letís assume youíre looking for comparable land to your forty acres in rural Tennessee, we next start to evaluate the features of the land.

Water: Lake or river frontage is more valuable to most people than a non-navigable stream, which is more valuable than a spring, which is more valuable than a pond, which is more valuable than no water at all.

Soil and Terrain: Most homesteaders will prefer a mixture of hill and valley, but level agricultural land is usually more expensive than hilly ground.  However, if your property is smaller, say less than eighty acres, there will probably be a better market for the mixed terrain that includes level bottomland and forested hills.

Improvements: A modern water well is worth more than it costs to drill.  In the Ozarks, for example, where the typical well costs around $6,000, I generally value them at $10K.

Access: While few in number, there are still some properties that donít have legal access Ė that is a deeded access easement, or frontage on a public road.  This is what is known as ďlandlockedĒ property and it is of considerably less value.  If you see an extremely low-priced piece of land for sale, it may be a bargain, or it may just not have legal access.  Curing this may be fairly simple, but donít count on it.  If it were an easy matter it would likely already have been fixed.  In most cases, legal access will require a deed from the neighbor youíre crossing, and folks tend not to like to sign deeds unless they get something in return.

Utilities:  Electric and phone. Check whether your comparables have or donít have the same utilities that your property has.  If not, and all other things are equal, price yours ahead of those that don't have what yours does, or behind those that have what yours doesnít.

Buildings: This article is intended to address land-only sales.  Obviously, if your land has buildings on it, those can add significantly to the value.  If the buildings are of any value, this is, a livable house or a barn or shed in good repair, this may be harder for you to estimate or to compare with others, but I canít be of much help other than to suggest you compare the number of rooms/bedrooms, the square footage and the general condition and appearance.  If the buildings are of marginal value, give them appropriate ranking, however as advice to a potential seller of real estate (Iíd tell a potential buyer something else) donít discount that shack or hovel too severely.  A lot of buyers seem to feel somehow assured if thatís a structure of any kind on a property.   It seems to be less intimidating than starting with empty woods, so if it doesnít leak too badly and isnít going to fall down in the next few years, you may consider bumping the price up a few thousand dollars.

After youíve researched all your research and compared all your comparables, itís time to decide on your final price. 

Actually, this is the easy part: you bring all your comparables together and rank them Ė a spreadsheet like Excel is good for this.  Put the price of each property in Column A, the ďsortĒ column, and a brief description of the features in Column B.

Now put yourself in a buyerís shoes.  Right away, you can see whatís a bargain and what may be overpriced. The idea is to price your property as a happy median between the two extremes.

Advertising/Marketing

Now that youíve arrived at your price, youíre ready to put your property in front of the world.  To do this, the first thing you need is a web page.

Now, I suppose you could HIRE someone to make a page for you, but frankly, if you can read well enough to get this far in this article, youíre perfectly capable of making your own. 

We make all the pages for Homestead.org on our antique software, MS Frontpage 2003,  but to be honest, Iím not wild about it.  It wasnít free, so whatever Microsoft replaced it with wonít be either.  Nowadays all of my favorite software packages come for the same price: free.  So Iíd check out whatís available at tucows.com or software.com.  You can also make a tolerable web page using Microsoft Word, however, if youíve never made any web pages before, youíll probably also be needing  web-space to put them on and you can find both web-authoring software and web-space available cheap or free with a little thoughtful Googling.

Once youíve got the mechanics taken care of, all you need to do is collect absolutely everything you can think of that will describe your property, which may included, but will not be limited to, a written description, lots and lots of photographs, perhaps taken in different seasons, information about the local area, last yearís real estate taxes, maps and perhaps a .pdf or .jpg copy of the survey, if available.

Continued on page 2   >

 

 

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