So you’ve won the listing on your next great land deal. You have motivated sellers offering a slice of the country that will evoke a sense of idyllic countryside life and nature appreciation in any prospective listing client. So now what? Convention would dictate that the first step would be to head out, grab some photographs and get this thing on the market as soon as
possible in order to maximize your exposure to the market. But what if convention is wrong?
Land normally does not sell itself, and requires a special touch to maximize the inherent value to new clientele. That is why we all got into this business right? It is the unique ability of a land agent to communicate to new clients the promise of opportunity in a listing; what assets set this parcel apart from the rest, and how it is a strong investment value in a market which can offer many similarities, all competing for buyer views. So how do you set yourself apart from the fray? Let’s take a cue from the residential side of the business to see how a land agent can consider maximizing their resources to reach a better end result; staging a land parcel for sale.
Who Says Staging Works?
In considering why there is even a staging industry surrounding residential listings, the only conclusion that we can come to is – it works! But don’t take my word for it. The National Association of Realtors Research Department authored an entire study on the practice in 2017, and their own findings levy the reasoning as to why staging is not only a common practice, but a preferred practice. Respondents across the country noted that as sellers’ agents, 38% preferred to stage prior to listing, with 14% noting they only stage if a home proves difficult to sell. Combining those stats together, we can see that over one-half of all polled residential agents considered staging a must to move a property! Digging into the numbers further, the study shows just how important both the buy and sell sides find staging
Buyers’ agents responded that 49% considered staging had an effect on a buyer’s view of the home, in addition to 77% noting this staging made it easier for them to visualize the property as a future home. One-third went as far to opine that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between 1% – 5% compared to other similar un-staged properties on the
market. Sellers’ agents reported even more engaging numbers, with 39% citing that staging greatly decreased the amount of time the home is on the market, 29% noting a dollar value increase of 1% – 5% when compared to similar homes, and 21% reporting an increase in dollar value of 6% – 10%.
Why Stage It Anyways?
I get it, land real estate is not residential real estate, so that make these numbers irrelevant right? Well, not so fast. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to the concept of staging a property, rather than how it is actually staged. While we may not be talking about modern living room sets and finely placed decor accents, any land property, improved or not, can still take some lessons from their residential cousins. Staging your land listing can create an emotional impact, offer a sense of scale, and lead to a more positive impact for your prospective buyer, as well as the surrounding community.
Make A Connection: An unimproved parcel is a blank canvas for sure, but it can also feel like a vapid, empty space for some buyers. Not all prospective buyers have an improvement/usage vision in mind, and many who do, might not have an idea ready for your specific property. So, help your buyers get there and connect emotionally with your listing! Staging a land listing, whether for photos or showings as well, can make what was once just another acreage parcel now seem full of life and purpose.
Put It in Perspective: Just as with creating an emotional connection to your listing, help buyers get a sense of scale with the property. A pasture that is overgrown and has failing fence lines can feel not only neglected, but also appear smaller and less usable. The fix? Consider investing in a little time with a bush hog and some post hole work. What about a vast parcel with million-dollar views you might ask? Hereto, consider lifestyle subjects for your photographs, such as horses and riders, giving not only a sense of scale to those vistas, but also implying to buyers that this is a property to be experienced, not just looked at.
Keeping Up with The Joneses: For rural land parcels, whether a small ranchette or a thousand-acre ranch, a sense of pride in the land is evoked in every owner. While some properties may fall into disrepair over time, small investments in the properties along the roadway are noticed by adjacent neighbors, and they too will often consider the ‘curb appeal’ of their landholdings. With the data from NAR to back up the idea that staging can bring in a higher dollar value, it can be reasoned that sprucing up the
property to bring that value up not only helps in your sale, but also increases the property values for the neighbors as well. And who wouldn’t be proud to invest in their land whose value just increased as a result of your staged sale?
To take the most advantage of these considerations, plan to reach out to a marketing specialist who can put a professional touch on your listing, and remove the stress from managing the maximization of your ROI. White River Ranch Marketing specializes in Lifestyle Staging on western mountain gentleman ranch listings to not only create an emotional connection via aspiration marketing, but utilizing our horses and riders as lifestyle
subjects also serves to promote that sense of scale in your online and print presentations.
Wait, How Do I Even Stage A Land Listing?
We all know this for a fact: first impressions matter. With that elementary concept out of the way, let’s look at how today’s land agent can take advantage of industry trends and use land staging to increase their business. First, in considering those first impressions, we should truly consider where your primary impression of a buyer is made in the 21st century. Is it at the ranch gate on a client tour? Not likely! In an article posted on RLI’s Voices of Land Blog, I argue that “knowing that 9 out 10 of buyers used a website, with 7 out of 10 researching properties via a mobile device, any good agent should ensure their web presence matches
these up-and-coming trends and they are maximizing the extent of their online influence with websites, aggregations tools, and social media.” In shorter terms; buyers are finding your listing online, potentially before they may even reach out to an agent. So how does the new century land agent use this in their favor?
Enter staging! Whether you choose to stage for photographs or for ranch tours (or both) you can do so knowing NAR data backs up not only the need to do so, but also the benefit in focusing on the buyer’s experience. In my RLI article, I quote NAR data showing that “greater than 8 in 10 buyers found photos and detailed property information the most important considerations in their research”. To follow, NAR’s Staging Study notes that 40% of buyers are willing to walk through a staged home they saw online. Bringing this all full circle, we can see that historical listing convention may not hold true, and the first step isn’t getting photographs and marketing your listing; but rather take a step back, consider your listing holistically from the perspective of the buyer, and work on a staging plan before your
first photos go out. Because that just may be the thing that brings you next buyer in!
Staging Plan – An Action Item List.
Having purchased dozens of rural land and ranch properties, I can attest from the buyer’s side what an impression a well-managed property can make on prospective client. It’s the details that matter, so work with your sellers to create a game plan and budget to elevate their property to achieve the maximum amount of interest. Here are a few actionable ideas to
Curb Appeal: Start with the basics. Fix the entry gates, spray for weeds on the drive, trim down low hanging branches and declutter the approach to the house or viewpoint of the property. Focus on making that good first impression to those who take the effort to tour the property.
Good Fences, Good Neighbors: Making a ranch ‘move in ready’ is just as important as with a residential property. Work with the sellers to mend the fence line, gates & livestock facilities. If the land is totally unimproved, consider placing brightly painted lathe stakes as boundary markers when showing, so buyers know where their land meets their neighbors.
Pasture a Plenty: Overgrown pastures signal undue work, and potentially property neglect. Nothing smells better than a freshly mowed field. Arrange for land assets to be properly taken care of prior to photographs and showings.
Know Thy Bounds: Buyers today are incredibly computer savvy, and if you’re marketing a property online and they can only see a map with an address pinpoint, you’re doing yourself and your seller a major disservice. Invest in a quality online interactive acreage map, whether it be created in-house or utilizing a service company to build one for you. The small cost of this investment can pay multiples in convincing a potential client to call on your listing. Remember, 90%+ of buyers research real estate online! If you’re marketing land, get a true land map.
Early to Rise: If the property has hunting or fishing assets, spend some time with the seller to highlight and shore up these benefits. Make access easy and safe, and plan to include this in your description and tours.
Born in a Barn: If there are equipment or livestock improvements, cleaning up and repairing these assets can be a very valuable return on your time and dollar investment. Buyers want and may need to make use of these right away if transferring equipment or animals to the new property, so spend some time on making that farm or ranch look and feel like a working farm or ranch.
Water, Water Everywhere: Do you know where the water for the property is coming from? If it’s well water, spend time at the local water board to have title documents and well data available for clients to review. Know the share allotment and withdraw volumes, and seniority limits. Is the land ditch or irrigation fed? If so, know the controlling entity and their contact information, and have proof of the original shares transferable with the sale.
Accommodation Doctrine: Parcels large and small may be subject to underlying mineral right claims, and knowing how these may impact the surface estate can set a knowledgeable agent apart, and also influences the property valuation. Sellers may have simple knowledge you can pass along to clients on existing claims, but it’s always best to defer to a mineral rights attorney.
Warrantable Defense: Speaking of existing claims, not all happen underground. More readily available and verifiable are other outstanding surface easements or claims against the land estate that can impact the property. The status of easements, rights-of-way, or entitlement claims can put the brakes on any deal, so an agent should plan to research the clarity of title to the lands to paint a clear picture of the true ownership of the ground.
Now armed with knowledge and data on how staging can positively impact your next land real estate listing, be sure consider the above action items to maximize the value on your listing and attract the most views. Focus on your online presence and presentation first, and invest in those tools which can draw a large pool of clients into your listing. The more lines
you cast, the better the chance of a bite. The more bites, the better the better chance of a closed deal!
“2017 Profile in Home Staging”, National Association of Realtors, 2017
“Real Estate Buyer Online Research Trends to Leverage in 2019”, RLI Voices of Land, Noonan, 2019
About the Author: Chris Noonan, CPL, MSc, is the President and Co-founder of White River Ranch Marketing LLC. An AAPL Certified Professional Landman, Chris is lending his decade plus of experience in energy land contracts, ranch buying, asset mapping and land use affairs to the farm and ranch land real estate industry via his startup, WRRM – designed to expand the virtual impact of land brokers and their listings throughout the US. www.whiteriverranchmarketing.com
by Laura Mueller
All empty land has the potential to become something great. And for individuals who purchase expansive plots in both established and up and coming towns, greatness may just mean a large payout from a commercial or residential developer. Developers are often willing to pay a very high price for land that meets their needs, and if you’ve gotten in early you can make a pretty penny on what might have been a small initial investment.
Selling land to developers is lucrative, but it’s not always easy. Regardless of their intentions, a developer needs to find land that fits their budget, is the right size for their project, and can be properly set up with utilities and other necessities required for their building plans. So if you want to compete, you’ve got to make sure you’re optimizing your chances. Here are four tips for selling land to developers that will help you stand out and—hopefully—close that deal.
1. Work with an agent
This one is a simple one, but it’s surprising how many people don’t realize the importance of working with a qualified and experienced real estate agent until they’ve been sitting on the market for months. Agents bring a few big benefits to your endeavor, including advice from their own experience helping clients buy and sell in the land market, as well as connections with developers and their agents. Find an agent who you enjoy working with as soon as you can, and make use of the fountain of knowledge they can bring to the table.
2. Know what your land is zoned for
Here’s another tip that seems obvious but often isn’t. Developers need to find land that is already zoned for their purposes—not the other way around. While it is possible to appeal for and sometimes successfully achieve changes in what a parcel is zoned for, it’s crucial that you know your zoning starting point. You likely already know what your land is and is not zoned for, but if you’re not 100 percent sure, work with your local Building and Planning Department to get the answers that you need.
3. Focus on expansion
The size of your land is a big determinant in how attractive it is to developers. Many developers have big plans that require purchasing multiple land lots, so why not own as many pieces of the puzzle as you can? If there’s land available adjacent to your parcel and it’s in your budget to make a purchase, consider expanding your plot. Not only will you make it more feasible for large development projects, you’ll also get a much bigger payout when you do find the right buyer.
4. Always be networking
You never know who’s going to make that key connection for you. While your listing will be published on aggregate listing sites, it’s still a good idea to spread the word about what you’re trying to sell and who you’re trying to sell it to. You may get lucky and have someone connect the dots for you by introducing you to a developer who is on the hunt for exactly what you’re looking to sell.
Selling land to the right developer may take time, but there’s the potential to make a lot of money in the process. Stay patient, and follow the tips above to increase your chances.
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by Bella Scotton
Many don’t even consider putting their house on the market during the festive season. Plus, many that do have their homes listed at this time do not renew the contract if it going to run through the Christmas season.
It may have been that selling a home during Christmas in the days gone by was no easy feat, but with the world of technology that we live in today, this has really changed. One of the reasons that would make this time of year so difficult for home selling simply was because of lack of time. Potential buyers just didn’t have the time to shop for a new home with everything else that was going on. Now, with the world of the internet, that has all changed. Interested buyers can easily check out homes of interest and then arrange for a viewing. This is a big time saver.
For the seller using this time of year to sell their home, it can actually be a time saver as well. Think of it this way. When you are going to put your home on the market at any time of the year the first thing you are likely to do is give it a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. Then while doing this you de-clutter. If there are any minor repairs to be done then you tackle these as well. While you are at it you may give one or two rooms a new coat of paint. Then you focus on cleaning up the exterior of the home you create some curb appeal.
If you think about it, these are many of the same things you do when getting the home ready for the festive season. You give it a good Christmas cleaning. Then you probably get rid of a lot of the old things so you can make room for some Christmas decorating. Many homeowners will often do some interior painting so the rooms really showcase their decorating. So basically all the tasks that you would complete for putting your home on the market you will be doing to get your home prepared for the Christmas season.
Another advantage is you can use your festive decorating skills to really showcase your home for potential buyers. The key to success with this is not to overdo it. It is easy to fall into the trap of making the home look cluttered with so many decorations. Plan carefully for your decorating and view it through the eyes of others.
Capitalize on some of the festive season smells as well. If you happen to be into Christmas baking then you may want to just finish off baking a tray of cookies or some pies before your agent is going to show your home.
Burning festive candles will also help to provide the home with some wonderful scents. Then, of course, there will be the odor of the Christmas tree if you use a real one. All of these little touches can create a very positive experience for the potential home buyers and give them a real sense of the ambiance that the home possesses.
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by Bella Scotton
A very common question when a homeowner is going to put their house on the market for sale is “When is the best time to sell”? A better question is “When is the best time for ME to sell”.
The general advice that is given in the real estate market industry for home selling is to sell your house when the market is hot. That’s fine in theory and it is tempting to make a good profit off the sale of your home, but what happens when the market is hot but the timing is not ideal for you. Is the profit you are going to make worth the sacrifices that you may have to make in your personal circumstances?
For example, it may be half way through the school year and the kids are at a pivotal point in their education. Or, will selling your home at a great price mean that you will have to buy another home in the area at a steep price because otherwise it may not be convenient to move elsewhere because of work purposes.
Then you may be thinking that you can sell in a hot market and buy a fixer upper at a lower price so you don’t eat into the equity profits you have gained from the sale. However, what happens if you happen to have a very hectic lifestyle at the moment and there just isn’t any time to take on the home handyman role? But, if your personal circumstances will allow for it there are plenty of houses on the market for under $100,000. and depending on your flexibility this may be a golden opportunity for you especially if finances are big factor in your personal situation at the time.
These are just a few of the things that you need to think about when it’s the best time for YOU to sell your home.
Then there are times when you need to sell because of circumstances and the market may not be hot. Does this mean that you just have to bite the bullet and take a loss? Maybe not, as there is one success story when it comes to home selling that is quite unique in many ways but one significant way was in which the neighbors played a role in getting the house sold at a reasonable price.
In a nutshell the sellers lived in a very close knit community, and had reached a point in their life where they had to sell because of work reasons. The timing was definitely not right as far as the housing market went but this was a necessity and when the neighbors became aware of this they were split in their thoughts about the sale. The house needed to be prepared for presentation so half the neighbors pitched in to make this a reality. What it really came down to was presentation. Some felt that this was important while others didn’t. The conclusion was that presentation did play a very important role in this success story.
The bottom line is when you are thinking about selling your home, it has to be for the right reasons, and that the outcome of a successful sale is going to be a positive experience based on your personal needs. Plus, having some neighborhood support can be a great resource as well.
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by Adam Winters
A house is not an easy thing to sell, at least if you’re a homeowner who’s being wise about your finances. A home is an expensive piece of property that in most cases, depreciates as it ages and costs a lot to maintain.
It can be said that most people who are in the market to buy a home rarely do so as an investment, but rather to fulfill a desire -to have a place that’s more than a shelter, but a personal space that can be an extension of one’s self. This is also a reason why it can be difficult to sell a home, it is a very personal piece of property that has to appeal first and foremost, to the buyer on an emotional level.
There are a number of things that have to fall into place before a home can change hands and both parties are rewarded equitably, but don’t think that you need a major stroke of luck before it can happen. One good way to ensure that you, as a home seller, get the best out of the transaction would be to hire a good real estate agent. But aside from that, there are also other things you can do on your end. Here are a few expert tips from professional home buying company Offer Climb Houston.
One of the quickest ways to add value to your new land is to enhance its appearance with attractive landscaping. Installing gardens and woodlots can seem like an overwhelming amount of work and quickly add up to big bucks but one of the best ways to make an easier go of it is with native plants.
Why Use Native Plants?
While installing native plants requires the same amount of initial effort as showy ornamentals in the long run these heritage locals will be significantly more self-sustaining and require very little long-term maintenance. Look forward to lower water bills as well as native plants are genetically adapted to the vagaries of local weather, including drought.
Native plants will also be better at withstanding common diseases and pests to better protect your landscaping investment dollar. Not needing pesticides will mean not killing beneficial insects that oft times fall victim to aggressive insecticide campaigns. And the local creeks and watersheds won’t be contaminated by toxic runoff.
Plant communities native to your region will flourish faster to better fill in those empty spots on your property. They also provide familiar food and habitat for native wildlife that will keep your outdoor spaces lively. These heartier, healthier plants will also slow down the spread of fire with their vigor.
By introducing native plants to your land you also help preserve native ecosystems and possibly provide refuge for the estimated 5,000 native plant species in America that are considered to be at a risk for extinction. Using native plants not only will increase the beauty and value of your land but help play a part in preserving our natural heritage.
How Do I Find Plants Native to My Region?
No water, no fertilizer, no pesticides, less maintenance time. How can you find these wonder plants? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a plant database that is searchable by state (http://plants.usda.gov/java/). You can view images of native plants, learn about invasive species, and get updates on current plant distribution. You can also study the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to use as your baseline for what native plants will grow best on your new property.
Once you identify the native plants you want to fill out your garden, you can shop for them in local nurseries. Another good source for finding native plants is in nearby arboretums and botanical gardens. They will almost certainly have displays of native plants to give you more ideas.