7 Ways to Improve Your Property's Marketability
Considering Selling your Land?
Here are 7 Ways to Improve Your Property's Marketability.
At some point, as a landowner, you may consider selling your property for one reason or another. Making the final decision to put your property on the market can be very difficult. It also has some implied tasks that are even less enjoyable. These tasks can become time-consuming and expensive if put off until the last minute. I am going to walk you through some proactive steps that you can take as a landowner to prepare yourself and your property. These steps will not only save you headache and frustration, but they will also improve your property’s marketability which could result in a higher return and shorter time on the market.
1. Mark Your Property Lines
When I was looking to buy my home in Georgia one of our “must-have" requirements was five acres or more. So the first thing I would ask to see on a prospective property is the land survey so I could visualize the property lines. I ran into surveys from 2000 back to the 80s. I had a landowner explain to me that the property line is “supposed to run along those trees" and for me as a potential buyer that is not acceptable. Performing a quick internet search for “land surveyor near me" will yield results to get you started. Surveys can range in complexity and expense. If updating the property lines is your only goal, then explain that to your chosen surveyor. The surveyor may be able to reduce his quote to meet your simplified needs. Request to walk with them during the process on the more accessible properties. Using ribbon or paint to mark your property line on trees, if possible, or place stakes for easy visual reference. Having your property marked ensures that potential buyers know exactly where the boundaries are. It also eliminates questions, speculations, and accidental misinformation.
2. Get an Appraisal
You might be thinking an appraisal is unnecessary if you are not putting the land on the market right now. An appraisal is a current market valuation. Now do not get this confused with market price because a property is only worth what someone is willing to pay to acquire it. What you are doing is increasing your land's credibility to the future asking price. When considering an appraiser ensure that they are familiar with your type of property. Experience is key when getting a quality appraisal. You wouldn’t want a residential appraiser doing your single-family home with 30 acres of mature planted pines behind it. During the process of selling your property, the buyer may get an appraisal done as well, that appraiser may not be independent of them. This could result in an appraisal well below your initial price. If this is the case, then you now have a wonderful negotiating tool to bring them back up to more acceptable terms. Having to do all of this last minute, or not doing it at all, could easily cost you substantially more than the cost of an appraisal.
3. Validate Any Potential Income Production
When you first bought your property you probably saw its income potential. Income from your land can come from many different avenues. Here in Georgia, some popular incomes a property may include timber, cotton, various crops, pecans, cattle, pine straw, and hunting leases. There are other ways to make income on your property, the key is to be able to show it consistently. Let’s say you lease your 200 acres to a cotton farmer. That farmer has leased from you yearly for 5 years. You could produce those leases to show the income you are making. However, the true potential is in what the farmer has made. Set up a meeting with the farmer. Have them bring the tonnage harvested from your property and the prices received from as many years as possible. That is where the real income potential is with your property. If you have pecan trees keep records of how many, how old, number damaged, when you harvested, where you took them, how much weight and any income made. This all seems tedious, but potential buyers see income potential as a means to offset the cost and this increases the property’s marketability.
4. Improve or Maintain Property Access
Making your property accessible is key. I am not talking about a new beautiful gate that leads into the property, though it wouldn’t hurt. What I am referring to, is access to your entire property. This doesn’t have to be a two-lane highway or rock-lined road. Smaller properties may only need walking trails. These trails can be made by taking the path of least resistance with a handheld bush blade. Mark your path with ribbon so that you take the same trail every time. Then walk it for exercise and whack any debris in your way, soon you will have a clear walking trail. For larger trails, you can pick through the woods on a 4wheeler and chainsaw following the same concept just on a larger scale. Finally, if you want to go bigger a bulldozer or a forestry mulcher can carve out nearly any path you desire. My suggestion is to at least create a walking path or 4wheeler trail on your side of the property lines especially if you have fencing. This allows for quick inspection and repairs if need be. Having this done before the property is on the market makes all of your property accessible and therefore usable which is appealing to potential buyers.
5. Maintain Game Cameras for Wildlife
Many landowners enjoy watching wildlife on their property. Here in Georgia, we have the luxury to enjoy some of the most beautiful and diverse wildlife habitats and ecosystems in America! The ability to enjoy hunting and fishing on a property can sway a potential buyer one way or another. With today’s technology, almost everyone has a camera phone. If you have a pond or a stream and you or someone fishes it, take pictures. If someone asks permission to fish and you are comfortable with them, make it conditional that they email you pictures of their catches. If you hunt whitetail deer or even if you don’t you can find game cameras at your local big-box store for $30 to $60. Buy some batteries and an SD Card. Find a trail with lots of deer tracks and set it about 20 feet away. Georgia allows year-round baiting so putting out a bag of corn will draw them in. (If you do not reside in Georgia please check with your state’s game laws) What you are doing is putting together a portfolio that appeals to a broader audience of potential buyers.
6. Verify Your Deed Was Properly Recorded
“I thought they were supposed to do that!” are famous last words. Occasionally, mistakes are made in the process of recording a deed. The deed is what legally transfers ownership from one person to another. Even though you may have all the paperwork stored away in your fireproof safe as you should. Something could be wrong and you not even know it. An incorrectly recorded deed, or worse an unrecorded deed, can be a very expensive headache if left undiscovered. These could include liens in previous owners' names on your property, a negative impact on personal credit and an inability to sell or transfer your land to a potential buyer. Thankfully, this is very simple to verify. Your deed will be recorded in the county of the state the land rests in. A call to your lawyer or escrow broker should be able to get you a recording page for your deed. Alternatively, you may call the County Clerk’s office and ask how to view the county’s land records. Often it may be available online. If you discover that your deed was not correctly recorded you should notify your lawyer and even your mortgage lender because they may be able to help you in the process of getting things corrected.
7. Contact a Land Broker or Sales Professional
Many overlook this important step. However, would you buy steak from a poultry farm? I know I wouldn’t. Nothing against chickens or cows but they just require different types of handling and expertise. The same goes for land sales and residential sales in the real estate world. Yes, they can and do commingle, however, a Land Broker has decided to be a subject matter expert in a market that is ever-changing. When I was looking at land to purchase in Georgia I spoke with several real estate agents about several different properties. I asked very specific questions about the soil, age of trees, and income potential. I was left with many unanswered questions because their expertise was the home on the property and not the land. Land Brokers and Land Sales Professionals have a deeper understanding of land assets. We fall in love with each piece of property we list for our clients. When selecting a Land Broker some questions to ask are: How will you market my property? Where will you advertise my property? Do you have comparable properties that have recently sold? How will you show my property? Feel free to contact us for all of your land sales needs.
So now you’re ready!
Ok, we both know that this wasn’t everything on the to-do list. What I laid out for you are just some of the possibilities a landowner can pursue to improve their property’s marketability. These tasks allow for a more streamlined experience as well as increase the appeal of the property. Some can be done in a few days and others you can take more time. By addressing all of these tasks, you could be reducing the time your property is on the market, gaining strength at the negotiating table, and increasing your final market price!