A different market, a different buyer mindset, and a different sales approach. These are just a few of the ways that selling land differs from selling houses. Many people are successful selling homes but this doesn’t necessarily translate into automatic success when it comes to selling vacant land. Sellers who are aware of these distinctive differences and adapt to them can be extremely successful and turn what seems like obstacles into strategic advantages.
Everyone needs a place to rest their head at night. Not everyone is looking for a vacant lot to flip or develop. The land market is simply less active than the housing market because there are fewer potential buyers looking to purchase land in its raw form. In other words, less demand. As a result, a piece of vacant land will generally take longer to sell than a home.
Home buyers and land buyers look to purchase properties with completely different objectives in mind. The goal of a homebuyer is to find a place to live and usually where a relatively low amount of work is needed to live there (a move-in ready house). In many cases, they’re willing to sacrifice personal customization for time and convenience. In 2016, there were 5.54 million existing homes sold and 738,400 homes built. Check out this article to learn more about the pros and cons of building versus buying a new home.
Land buyers bring a different perspective to the real estate market, and this can vary depending on whether it’s an individual or a group of developers. An individual, for example, may be looking for a vacant lot to build on or to use for some type of recreation. Developers are looking for the right location and land type to make money off the land. In both cases, the aim of their purchase is to customize the land to fit their needs and wants, even though it will take more time, more decision making, and end up being less convenient.
A logical conclusion to draw from a smaller market size, a different buyer mentality, and a product that’s different in its nature, is that a different sales technique may be required. Conventional sales strategies for selling homes include a whole lot of detailed pictures, open houses, and many other visual, hands-on features. Visualization isn’t hard for an interested buyer when they can literally walk through the house and have a personal experience with it. It doesn’t have to become what they want, it already is, and they can see their family living there.
Vacant land is different - a buyer needs to be able to envision the property’s potential. If you're selling land you can get a head start by getting a geological survey. Detailed data about the property can help the buyer understand what it can be used for. A skilled seller will guide the buyer into looking beyond what the land is presently, towards what the land can become in the future.
The most important goal when selling real estate is being able to find buyers. Here are a few key areas where marketing land is different from marketing homes. After all, the objective is to be as effective as possible.
When we’re talking about a completely different audience with different motives and goals, an obvious conclusion to draw is you’ll need to advertise your property on different platforms. To get your land in front of actual land buyers, why not advertise it on a website that’s dominated by people you already know will be visiting the site for the purpose of finding land? Although it won’t hurt to put it on traditional real estate sites, it’s a fact that most of the users using these platforms are searching for a home. This is why LandSearch is such a great resource. You almost have a guarantee the person scrolling through listings is looking for land, a guarantee you don’t have with many other popular real estate platforms.
A different target audience will also call for advertising in various other magazines, podcasts, as well as attending a different type of conference or expo (this applies more to marketing your business as opposed to a property). The Land Report is a great place to advertise to get in front of anyone involved in the land market. Podcasts like REtipster, The Land Geek, The Land Academy, and The Land Show attract listeners that are genuinely interested in land investing. Industry conferences such as the Land Investment Expo hosted by Peoples Company and the National Land Conference put on by the Realtors Land Institute are great venues to get in front of the right people.
This may seem glaringly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people treat their vacant land descriptions like a home description, write generic, regurgitated descriptions, or throw down a 6-word description that tells buyers nothing about their land listings (or don’t write a description at all). As mentioned above, a vacant land description should take readers on a journey where they have no choice but to envision all the possibilities and ways they could use the property, along with the fact that it’s the deal of a lifetime.
Keeping with a similar idea as the property description, different qualities and features should be showcased when marketing land for sale. One consideration that's important to take a look at is what the property’s highest and best use is. Knowing this vital piece of information will not only give you insight into what features to highlight, but will also help you determine the type of buyer and specific target market to go after. This is not an issue with homes since the highest and best use is predetermined for you. The type of photography and videography will change as well. With land, you’ll be going after more of a landscape type photography style along with making use of aerial drone footage. To learn more about this, check out our blog post explaining how important high-quality photography is when it comes to land marketing.
Here's a great example of a land marketing video from the guys at Hall & Hall.
Although this certainly doesn’t have to be the case, many real estate agents specialize in buying and selling specific property types. If you decide to hire an agent to help you sell your land, it may make sense to find one that specializes in land. An Accredited Land Consultant is a designation offered by the Realtors Land Institute for brokers and agents who have demonstrated and possess expertise in the land market. This is opposed to a realtor who normally always deals with traditional, residential homes. It’s not that residential agents haven’t had a lot of success selling land, but if vacant land is their bread and butter it could make a difference. To search real estate agents near you, head over to our agent directory.
Typically, it turns out to be more challenging to secure financing for vacant land than it is for homes. Another change in the way you might market your land is to offer owner financing (if the right conditions are met of course). This will allow a bigger pool of buyers to have the capability of purchasing your property. There are times when a traditional institution is just not going to lend the money, and the only reason a buyer might be able to pull the trigger on a deal is because you're willing to work with them through owner financing.
Many people hire an agent, list their home on a few websites, quickly start attracting interested buyers, and sell it in no time. Since you already know the land market is smaller and the statistics say it’s going to take longer to sell, a solid land marketing strategy can be to create a buyers list. A buyers list is basically what it sounds like. It’s a strategically targeted list of active real estate investors that may be interested in buying the type of property you’re selling. This is done in all types of real estate, but hopefully, you can see why it would be a good fit with vacant land.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the differences between selling land versus selling homes, but it should give you a good overview of the high-level distinctions. Ideally, looking at the differences can provide you with some practical insight on how to shape your personal approach and become a more effective land seller. Trying to sell dirt can be challenging, but then again, you could be selling one of the most precious resources we have… the very essence and source of our food, the location where our money is made, the infrastructure where we live and have fun, and one of the needed elements to sustain life.