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Selling Land

By - 2008

Are you selling land or small lots? Want to get more for your property and sell it faster? There are three important things you should do.

The very first piece of real estate I bought was two-and-a-half acres adjoining some state land in Northern Michigan. I paid $3,500 for it (land was cheap back then), and sold it for $4,750 just two weeks later. I am convinced that selling the land so easily (and for 35% more than I paid) was due to three things that I did.

Clean and Prepare the Land

I pulled all the broken branches off to a corner of the property, out of sight. I nailed together a simple wooden bench from used lumber and put it overlooking the valley behind the property. I raked the leaves away from the front of the property. Finally, I took several of the larger logs that were laying on the land and arranged them as borders where a driveway might go. I raked out this area, and spent a few minutes leveling it with a shovel, so a car could easily pull in.

Real estate investors who do a lot of deals may be able to see beyond the piles of old stumps, the garbage on the ground or the rusty fence. They may imagine what the property will look like, but do you want to limit your market to those who have good imaginations? Help potential buyers see the properties potential. All it took in this case was a few hours to clean up, place a bench and outline a driveway. Even if you pay someone to do these things it will be worth it.

Mark the Boundaries

When I was looking at land to buy, I clearly remember that there were many pieces to look at. If I wasn't clear what the boundaries were on a piece of land, I often just dropped it from my list. Is that tree on the land, or that gully? I can't visualize from a legal description, and I am certain that others have the same problem too.

In the case of selling my land, I resolved this issue by finding the corner markers in the ground. Two sides of the land were bounded by roads, but it was hard to see where the other two property lines were, so I marked them. I cut several dozen sticks and, using my own crude surveying tool, tapped them into the ground and quickly spray-painted the tops white. Not being a surveyor, I put them several feet inside the lines, just to be safe, and I let the buyer know that these were not official survey markers.

The idea here is clear. When the buyer walked the land, I wasn't there to show him anything, yet he clearly could see the markers. He knew what he was buying. It took me a couple hours to do this, but you could do it faster with sting, perhaps, and tie little flags onto it. On a larger piece, pay for a survey, and let the surveyor know you want the markings to be obvious.

Selling Land for More

The key to getting that 35% bump in value in just two weeks wasn't just in the afternoon I spent cleaning, preparing and marking the land. It was also in the way that I sold it. I put up a hand-painted sign that said "For Sale: 2.5 acres. $4,750, $250 down, $100 per month." The people that bought the land thought it was overpriced. They also fell in love with it and paid my full asking price. What choice did they have with about $400 in their bank account?

If you can offer financing when you sell, do it. It is the single easiest way to add value, and get a better price. In fact, if you may be able to make money just buying lots, marking them up 25% and selling them on easy terms. A house can be trashed by a low down payment buyer, but land is safer when using this technique. Selling land this way also means you can get 11% interest on the balance, as I did in this case.


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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Selling Land