Why Every Season is Selling Season for Lots & Land
The Fall and Winter seasons can be the ideal time for you to find buyers when you are selling vacant land or residential lots. Some landowners who wish to sell land – and even well-meaning real estate pros – mistakenly take their vacant land listings off the market for a few months during this time of the year because of outdated or inapplicable beliefs about “Selling Seasons” for real estate that don’t apply to selling lot and land properties. Read on for 5 reasons why the Fall and Winter seasons can be a great time of the year to sell residential lots and land, and learn why it may be time for you to reevaluate your strategy when it comes to the colder months…so you are not left out in the cold.
1. Buyers Search Online for Lots & Land Year Round
Today’s real estate buyers are shopping year round on the Internet, so the idea that buyers don’t shop for homes and land in the winter is antiquated.
Times have changed, and the belief that people don’t buy real estate in the Fall and Winter is partly derived from how the real estate business worked before the Internet age. In the past, searching for real estate (and vacant land in particular) involved selecting a number of potential properties (probably found by word of mouth or newspaper classified ads), then driving to all the different locations and inspecting the properties in person. Buyers just did not have the same visual resources and search tools that they have 24 hours a day via the Internet, so the process required more legwork, site visits and wasted time back then. And when winter arrived in colder climates, many landowners would take their property listing off the market because they felt like there wasn’t any use…surely buyers would not want to drive and walk through cold weather or snow to look at their property.
Times indeed have changed, and these cold weather reasons just don’t hold true now. In only about 10 years the Internet has dramatically altered how consumers look for, research, evaluate and ultimately decide to purchase products, services and – most certainly – real estate.
The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) and Google recently teamed up to research online trends for real estate buyers, and reported convincing proof that the Internet is the most important marketing tool for you to use in every season in this Digital Age:
- Over 90% of real estate buyers search online.
- Real estate searches on the Internet have grown by 253% over a recent 4 year period.
- Most real estate shoppers visit multiple sites looking for the right opportunity. 78% of online real estate shoppers visit 3 or more sites prior to taking an action, so it’s important to have broad exposure when selling online.
- 36% of those shopping for real estate online use mobile devices (phones or tablets) to shop for real estate while watching TV at the same time.
- Most buyers use a real estate agent and often find them online, with real estate broker-related searches on tablets growing 300% year over year.
- The growth of buyers using the Internet and tablets to find information on new home opportunities and Homebuilders is even greater, growing at 362% year over year.
And with the Internet, buyers are not limited to research about properties only during regular office or work hours. Research shows that the Internet never really sleeps in the United States — these days there is an opportunity for a buyer to find your property online 24 hours a day and all year long.
This NAR-Google report shows that most real estate buyers now undertake their property search (and even their home builder or broker search) from the convenience of their home or office, many searching from the comfort of their cozy couch. Today’s buyers have a lot more flexibility for property searching year round, no matter the weather, time of year or where the property is located.
In fact, in areas where the weather keeps more buyers indoors it should be all the more reason for you to make sure your property is listed prominently online. Even if your land is covered in four feet of snow, your online property listing is high and dry and provides details about your property for potential buyers 24 hours a day (including photos, maps and other information that can help keep that key buyer interested in your property). The buyer may not close on the land purchase until the snow melts, but they may put the property under contract and begin due diligence during the Winter which allows them to close months sooner than if you had taken the property off the market.
2. Lower Winter Inventory Means Less Competition to Sell Land
November and December tend to be the slowest months for selling homes. But this seasonal slowdown for existing homes has been misapplied by some in the real estate industry to ALL residential property.
Although November and December tend to be slower for the home selling market, lot and land buyers have different needs and motivations than home buyers. Many of the reasons that underlie the seasonal market difference for selling homes don’t even apply to lots or land. For example, families may try to close a home purchase in Spring or Summer to time a move around the School calendar, while some home buyers may wish to avoid moving into a new home during the cold of Winter. Neither of these reasons apply to people buying vacant land without a home on it. Vacant land buyers (and especially home builder and developer buyers) do not have the same timing and lifestyle needs as someone who is moving into a new home, so these seasonal factors are not applicable.
Likewise, home sellers often pull their houses off the market during the holidays to avoid the hassle of doing showings while they are traveling or celebrating holidays with family and company. That may make sense for selling homes, but this is another aspect in which selling lots and land is different than selling homes. Selling vacant land does not involve open houses, cleaning up bedrooms for showings or other such home selling-intrusions on your personal life or family time. This scenario can decrease the inventory of home listings during November and December, but it really is driven by the home seller’s needs and not a drop in buyer demand.
Despite the underlying differences between selling homes and land, some lot and land Sellers inevitably will inactivate their listings for a few months during the Winter. But this actually is good for the property Sellers who know to keep their lot and land properties on the market year round, as there is reduced inventory on the market and improved selling conditions. Lower inventory equals less competition for the attention of Buyers.
Some real estate agents pull MLS listings during their slowest season for a few months to “reset” the property in their MLS system and create a “New” listing designation for that property. That can be a worthwhile strategy when properties have been active in their MLS for a very long time and there is a concern that a large number of Days on the Market has created a stigma for the listing. Even if an agent is following this strategy for a MLS listing they should not halt their marketing efforts entirely and possibly miss out on a buyer, because the agent can continue to list their lot or land for sale on a non-MLS site like LotNetwork.com even while it is off-market on MLS.
There may be a few days over the holiday weeks where activity will be lower, but that certainly does not support taking a property entirely off the market during the Fall and Winter seasons.
3. Fall and Winter are the High Seasons for Selling Land in Some Areas
In some parts of the country Fall and Winter are the best time of the year to sell a property.
Desert, coastal and temperate areas see some of their highest activity during the Winter, when the lower temperatures help site visits be more appealing. Likewise, ski areas and resort towns see their busiest selling seasons during the cold months when vacationers fall in love with the winter wonderland and start looking for a snowy retreat. The Sunbelt states have continued to be part of the fastest growing region in the nation, and Fall and Winter are a great time for buyers to search for new home sites in these areas.
While home sellers may not be thrilled about keeping their home show-ready during the holidays, it’s the perfect time for lot and land sellers to find a buyer who is travelling over the holidays. By continuing to fully market your properties during this season, you won’t miss the vacationer that is searching on their laptop, smartphone or tablet for a property.
4. You Can Show Off the Seasonal Beauty & Benefits of your Property
Some properties really shine during the Fall and Winter months.
In many areas the beauty of Fall leaf color can really help you sell your property. Sometimes the best time to sell a wooded property is during the Winter, when the bare trees really open up the views. And fewer leaves on trees can significantly increase the value of the view for a waterfront parcel by extending the views across the water.
The Fall and Winter seasons can show buyers benefits of your property that they usually can’t fully appreciate. If your property is in a neighborhood with Winter road maintenance, your potential buyers can get peace of mind by seeing firsthand during the Winter that they will be able to access the property year round. In some regions the colder seasons actually make it easier for buyers to do site visits because there is less concern about heat, humidity, bugs and snakes while walking a property.
Even in the Fall and Winter you should keep your property tended and ready to be seen (as best you can). Also make sure your online listing is up to date and shows the qualities of your property during all seasons (read more). Add some updated or seasonal photos to your online property listings to show off your property during the Fall and Winter months (learn how to create great photos for lot and land listings to help you sell). Beautiful trees in color or the view with a fresh coat of snow can be very appealing to buyers who are looking for that seasonal beauty.
5. Buyers Need to Search & Buy Now for New Homes in 2017
You should continue to market vacant lot and land properties through the Fall and Winter seasons because homebuilders, developers and people looking for lots for a new home or land for development will need to research and buy property now to be ready for the Spring homebuilding season.
Housing industry experts are expecting continued growth in the home building industry in 2017. Builder confidence has grown significantly over much of this past year, and market conditions continue to support consumers buying new homes going forward: Interest rates are low, rental costs are rising, and consumer confidence is growing. And while existing home sales have slowed recently in some markets because of increasing home prices, this has helped new homes look even more appealing and affordable to buyers. And homebuilders are desperately searching to find lots and land for building new homes — in fact, according to a recent NAHB survey, more builders than ever (64%) are reporting a shortage of lots for building new homes. All of these factors are good indicators that demand will continue to increase for vacant lots and land for building new homes.
The previously mentioned NAR-Google study reported that real estate buyers often research and follow their target properties online for several months before taking action and reaching out to property owners or real estate agents. It takes time for a buyer to find the right property, complete their due diligence and get financing and other matters in order for a closing, whether they are an individual buying a home lot or a developer buying land for a new project. Sellers need to have their lot and land listings on the market now and through the Winter so their properties can be found by these buyers who are buying land now to get ready for the 2017 building season.
Times have changed, and the “Selling Season” for lots and land now is year round. While the heart of Winter may not be as active as the busiest time of the year, it makes no sense to skip out on potential buyers anymore by removing a listing from the market. When it comes to selling vacant land and residential lots, there are two significant facts that you should keep in mind: (1) the Internet now dominates the real estate search and buying process, and should be a critical part of every property seller’s marketing efforts, and (2) buyers of lots and land are very different from home buyers, so customs and strategies that apply to selling homes do not necessarily apply to selling vacant land.
Let us know in the Comments if you can think of any other reasons why every season is “Selling Season” for lots and land.
We have much more information and other great tips about selling your property on our Lot and Land Seller’s Resource Page.
Real estate pros, be sure to see our Real Estate Agent and Broker Resources to see how LotNetwork.com can help you sell your lot and land listings. And homebuilding and development pros can go to the Homebuilder and Developer Resources Page to find out about our features and powerful online tools that were created to meet your needs, and will help you buy and sell lots and land so you can sell new homes.
Check out our other resource pages for tips and information on the following topics:
It’s easy to sign up for a Listing Plan so you can sell your property on the nation’s premier site for residential lots and land:
- How to Sell Lots & Land (and Why it’s Different from Selling Homes) – LotNetwork.com
- Online Listings to Sell Lots & Land: 5 Tips to Help Spur a Successful Sale – LotNetwork.com
- Sell Land, Development Projects and Portfolios of Residential Lots with “Project Listings” – LotNetwork.com
- Photos Sell Real Estate: Tips for Great Photos for Lot & Land Listings – LotNetwork.com