When it comes to selling your land, knowing the ins and outs of your property is not enough to sell it. Covering both traditional and out-of-the-box marketing strategies are not enough to sell it. More than knowing your property and knowing the right marketing techniques, you need to know your audience. You need to know the questions land buyers are asking. When you know what they’re looking for and what they want to know, you’ll be able to present your property so that it checks all of the boxes for buyers. Here are the top nine things land buyers want to know before buying land.
The land isn’t much use to the buyer if they can’t get to it. Your buyer will want to know how accessible the property is. This is especially true for properties that get a lot of snow during the winter. Buyers will want to know if there is a frontage road that provides private access to the property, or if there is a shared road with a neighbor (deeded easement.) Having information about how accessible the land is, is one of the most important factors for a buyer.
Highest and best use
Your buyer probably already has an idea of what they want to do with the land they are buying. They have big plans for building a home or business, starting a farm, or setting it up for private hunting grounds. They’re going to want to know the highest and best use for the land to make sure it coincides with their plans. To determine the highest and best use of the property, have an appraisal done on the property. The appraiser will look at four main factors to determine the highest and best use, including:
- Is the use physically possible?
- Is the use legally permitted?
- Would the use be financially feasible?
- Would the use be maximally productive?
Armed with this information, you’ll be able to tell the buyers, with confidence, that the land is best suited for their plans.
Regardless of what the buyers plan to do with the property, chances are they’re going to need some sort of utilities to sustain the property. They will ask about how much it costs to get power to the site, how easy it is, and if the power lines can be buried. Providing documentation from the local utility companies can help the buyers get an idea of what to expect when it comes to maintaining electricity, water, and even Wi-Fi at the property. Never assume that just because you can see a power line that the property has or can get power.
Read more: How to Install Power on Vacant Land
Is it buildable?
The fact that something can or can not be built on the land can be a deciding factor for many buyers looking at land. Understanding land regulations, conducting a title search and contacting the local building offices are all ways to get confirmation about whether or not the land is buildable. If you can be proactive and provide buyers with proof that the land is buildable, you’ll save everyone a lot of time.
When it comes to buying land, zoning requirements are important to understand. Buyers want to know what the zoning district is and if what they are planning to do with the land (e.g. building a guest cottage, a chicken coop, or running an in-home business) comply with zoning rules. They’ll also want to know if there are wetlands or floodplains on the property and maybe even if the property can be subdivided. If you know that the land is in a special zoning district, let the buyers know this upfront. You can get all the information you need (and that the buyers will want) about zoning online or by contacting the department of licenses and inspections in your area.
If the buyer intends to use the land to grow crops, the makeup of the soil is going to be paramount in their decision process. They will want to know if the ground has been tested for percolation rate and the ability of the soil to absorb water. Buyers who are looking for healthy soil for growing plants will be looking for a profile of approximately 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay. There are plenty of DIY ways to test the soil profile, and some local landscaping companies offer soil testing for a fee. Having an updated soil analysis handy in the land-selling process can help buyers determine if your land will meet their needs.
A working septic system (or the ability to install one) is essential to most land buyers. When you perform a percolation rate test on your property, you will be able to determine the rate at which the soil absorbs water. This information will help you determine whether the land is a candidate for a gravity-fed septic system or if you’ll need to look into alternative systems. If there is already a functioning septic system in place, that’s a bonus!
Bodies of water, such as ponds and lakes, are the most common property “bonus” that buyers look for when buying a property. If your land has water on it or has views of the water, you’ll want to highlight this feature when completing your marketing plan. Other features buyers look for include:
- Located 6-10 miles from community conveniences
- 5+ acres
- Unique views
- Space from neighbors
Of course, everyone’s list of “most desirable features” is different, but if your property has any of these features, it’s important to showcase them, since they’re things buyers are consistently looking for.
Read more: The Anatomy of the Perfect Land Listing
Buyers want to know what you know. They want to know the details that they can’t possibly find online or from a walk-through. If you can explain how beautiful the property is in the fall, or how close it is to crystal clear springs for swimming or picturesque mountains for hiking, you can help them picture what it would be like to own the land. You can help them see the potential in the land by pointing out your favorite things about the property. When you’re selling land, you’re selling a lot more than dirt and trees. You’re selling someone the foundation for their dreams.
The more information you can provide to your buyers, the less work they’ll have to do, and the less time it’ll take to make the sale. By knowing what buyers want in vacant land, you can be proactive in ensuring your property has what they’re looking for.
Originally published 10/10/2018, updated 7/29/2020.