Selling a house in a changing real estate market can be challenging. Selling dirt can be even more challenging…in any market. In this article we provide tools for landowners and real estate professionals about how to sell lots and land, and why your strategy with vacant residential land needs to be different from selling a home.
What to Expect: The Land Market & Why It’s Different
Many people expect the market dynamics for lots and land to be the same as the market for existing homes. They are not. You’ll be better prepared to sell your home lot or land if you understand some of the differences between the land market and the existing homes market:
- Lot and Land Buyers are Different from Homebuyers – These groups of people have very different perspectives, desires and needs. Homebuyers usually want move-in-ready, with granite countertops. Land buyers, whether individuals or developers, are looking for the right location and an opportunity that lets them customize to fit their needs.
- Land Requires Different Sales Techniques – A home has a kitchen, bathrooms and a façade that can be visual and photogenic. You can hold an Open House for a home and walk a buyer through each room to help make the sale. Buyers can easily visualize themselves in – and fall in love with – the built home. It’s just not the same for vacant residential lots and land.
- Market for Land is Less Active - The market for existing homes is almost always more vibrant than the land market. There simply are fewer numbers of buyers for vacant land than consumers looking for homes. Start marketing a new home listing and a new lot listing when both are desirable and priced well, and you generally can expect fewer contacts about the new lot listing.
- Patience Required – Selling a lot or vacant land typically will take longer than a house. You have to be patient.
But don’t be discouraged. Lot and land markets continue to heat up across the country. And while some of these comparisons may seem disheartening, people successfully sell lots and land every day. We’re here to help.
What to Do: Steps to Take to Sell Your Lot or Land
While we have noted that there are many differences when selling land, at the same time the concepts are similar to selling a home. You just need to tailor your strategy, tools and focus for selling this type of property.
Understand Who Your Buyer Will Be & What They Need to Know
When selling a home you know your target market typically is a home buyer in a certain price range. But when selling vacant land you must evaluate who your likely buyers will be among many other factors.
Your buyer profile can depend on what type of property you are selling, whether the land has been developed already, its location and market conditions, among other criteria. Is your likely buyer an individual looking for a lot for a new home? Or is your buyer going to be a builder or developer looking for land for their next project? Or is your buyer some combination of those, or someone different altogether? There may be different buyers for finished lots, rural acreage or a parcel of suburban land in a thriving new home market.
After identifying your likely buyers, try to think like them so you can focus your message to convey what they need to know about your property. Have information ready about schools, shopping and other nearby amenities. For developable land you can be prepared with zoning information and insight from local authorities about the location and capacity of water and sewer service. Each property is different, so customize your information for your situation and your targeted buyers.
If you don’t know these details, then do some research. When you are prepared and knowledgeable about your lot or land you can make the process easier for potential buyers and inspire faith with solid answers to their questions.
Have the Land Ready
First impressions are lasting in real estate. When selling a home you would never leave out your dirty laundry for potential buyers to see, and you should also clean up your lot before it is shown and marketed. Cut the grass (or weeds), remove trash and take marketing photos of your property when it is looking its best. Some sellers even plant wildflowers to make their vacant land look beautiful. It’s like staging a home, but you’re just working with raw land instead.
Also consider having a survey done in advance and mark your property boundaries. For home lots, show setbacks on the survey too. This will provide useful information and help buyers see the potential in a property to encourage a sale.
Choose Your Price Carefully
Pricing can determine your success in attracting potential buyers, and pricing your lot or land too high is one of the biggest mistakes that sellers make…and regret. The wrong price will both scare away buyers from even inquiring about your property, and will cause your property to take longer to sell.
Pricing land can be trickier when compared to pricing a home. Developed lots in communities may have a clear “market” price based on the recent sale of similar lots. Raw land, however, may have fewer “comparable” sales to use in determining your price. In addition, the price you ultimately can attract for a singular lot or undeveloped land can vary greatly depending on the buyer’s intended use of the property. For example, if a buyer feels that your acreage is appropriate for a high-end home development it likely will bring a higher price per acre than if a buyer only intends to build a single home on it.
Consider your own needs when pricing, and understand how pricing could impact buyers’ interest. When selling real estate, you sometimes have to choose between getting the highest price and possibly selling quicker. Plus, your pricing may be influenced if you need to sell for financial reasons. In addition to your own situation, pricing your property ultimately requires an understanding of the land market as a whole, why people are buying lots or land in that area and who these people are. A good real estate agent with land expertise can help greatly in this process.
The lending market for vacant lots and land still is difficult, so many buyers have trouble getting financing. You should have a larger pool of potential buyers if you are able to offer some type of owner carry or financing.
Use Online Listings Targeted to Lot & Land Buyers
It’s probably obvious that you market a home to homebuyers. It follows that you should market your lot or land directly to lot and land buyers.
Online listings are an important part of any real estate marketing plan, and you should make use of all the available tools. When you market your property online you want to target people who are looking for lots and land.
MLS usually is a first step for real estate agents when they get a new home listing, and it certainly should be part of any real estate marketing plan. But keep in mind that MLS is focused on marketing existing built homes, and should not be the only online marketing tool used for your lot or land listings. LotNetwork.com was specifically designed for selling residential lots and land, and attracts targeted lot and land buyers like potential homeowners, builders, developers and investors, among others.
Your understanding of your buyers and the market comes into play when you are preparing your listing. Craft your message in your listing to provide the information that your likely buyers need.
Show Your Property At Its Best
It can be challenging to market vacant residential lots and land because there is no move-in-ready home. Homes are visual, convey a sense of place and evoke emotional responses from buyers. But there is no house for an Open House when selling lots and land.
Be sure to use visual tools to tell the story of your lot or land in your online listing in a beautiful and compelling way. You can’t show photos of a kitchen or great room, so be creative with your lot or land photographs. Use attractive photos of the home site, natural features of the land, the view from your property and even community amenities (see tips for creating great photos for lot and land listings). Use maps and surveys to show the property boundaries and where it is located. Learn more in our related article about 5 tips for selling lots or land with online listings.
And although it may not be the same as an Open House, you always should offer to “walk the property” with a potential buyer. You can show them the property lines and tour things like the neighborhood pool or walking trails. Use this opportunity to strategically point out the positive aspects and minimize the negative aspects.
Tell the Story with your Sign
In addition to online listings that target lot and land buyers, effective property signs always should be part of your marketing plan. Don’t just use a standard “For Sale” sign; we suggest that you have a sign custom-made for selling your lot or land (which can be done relatively inexpensively these days). You can help tell the story with your custom signs by including a few key points like acreage and property features. The sign(s) should be located for visibility, look professional and be kept clean and upright.
Talk with the Neighbors
Try some focused marketing strategies too. When selling a home you typically would not go to the adjacent homeowner to see if they want to buy your house, but when selling a lot or land the adjacent property owner often can be one of your best opportunities for finding a buyer.
Give the neighbor a call – they may want to buy your land for extra buffer, to add to their property holdings or just to control what is built next door. Another strategy is to directly contact active builders in the area to see if they are interested in your property.
Work with the Pros
Having a knowledgeable professional on your side always helps when selling your lots and land. There are many benefits from having specialized expertise on board, so we encourage you to work with a real estate agent who specializes in lot and land sales. They will help you understand the market, set a price and market your land to the right buyers.
Selling lots and land has its unique challenges and strategies when compared to selling a home, and these are several of the ways you can boost your selling efforts. Whether you’re just starting the process of selling your lot or land or you need to re-energize your efforts, we hope these tips help you. So take action and find a way to reach past the home buyers and get to that pool of active lot and land buyers.
What have you found that helps you in the lot and land selling process? Let us know in the comments!
Check out our page dedicated entirely to Tips and Resources for Selling Lots & Land.
Start your online listings today to help you sell your lot and land properties:
- Online Listings to Sell Land or Lots: Five Tips to Help Spur a Successful Sale – LotNetwork.com
- Sell Land, Development Projects & Portfolios of Residential Lots with “Project Listings” — LotNetwork.com
- Photos Sell Real Estate: Tips for Great Photos for Lot and Land Listings – LotNetwork.com
- Tips on Using Screenshots and Cropping for Better Property Photos — LotNetwork.com
- Reach More Lot & Land Buyers: Upgrade Your MLS Listings On LotNetwork.com – LotNetwork.com