Selling Unimproved Land
For buyers, unimproved land can be a huge gamble. Make it easier for them and keep yourself out of potential lawsuits by making sure everything is in order before you offer the land for sale.
If the price will allow, have the land surveyed. If you have a lot in a subdivision, this will have already been done, and you need only to locate and mark the corner pins. But if you're in a rural area, the land may not have been surveyed for many years… if ever.
In agricultural areas, farmers often build fences for convenience… not necessarily on the property lines. If you've ever tried to install fence posts, you know why. Sometimes big rocks prevent post holes. Sometimes big trees grow right on the line, so fences are built around them.
If the land is not surveyed and the selling price will not allow for that expense, be sure to disclose the fact to buyers. Show your agent where you believe the lines to be, but stress that this is a belief, not a verified fact.
Next, if you have residential land for sale, make sure that your buyers will either be able to hook into an existing sewer system or install a septic tank. You can even obtain a septic approval from your governing agency. Showing that approval on your land listing will make your parcel more attractive than land for sale without it.
Then check power availability. Call the power company and get their installation rates. Ask them how far they will have to come and find out if your buyers will be subject to the cost of bringing power to the vicinity, as well as to the home site. Give this information to your agent and ask to have it included on your land listing.
Check the title. As with your home, any legal entanglements you've had since owning the property could show up on your title. These include:
- Tax liens
- Child support liens
- Divorce issues
- Bankruptcy issues
- Property Line disputes
- Errors and omissions…
When heirs decide to sell property that their parents purchased and didn't use, they often run into a problem with errors and omissions. Years ago large tracts of land were logged and then subdivided. They were sold to people who intended to use them but never did. The sellers "held the paper" and the buyers made payments directly to them. When the obligation was fulfilled, the sellers sent them a deed showing free and clear ownership. That's where the problem lies.
When the buyers received these deeds many of them didn't realize that they needed to have the document recorded. They put it in a file or even a safe deposit box and forgot about it.
Now, years later, the title report shows that they still have an obligation to the seller. If the deed can be found, it simply needs to be recorded. If it cannot be found, it can turn into a lengthy process. It's best to find out early so you can be assured of having clear title by the time the property is sold.
When all your paperwork is in order and you are able to answer every question a potential land buyer might ask, your land will be ultimately more desirable than all the competing listings. So, get busy!