The title company charges for the escrow services that it provides. These services include holding the funds, providing a place for the closing and having one of their staffers calculate the cash flows in the transaction. Typically, the buyer pays all of the costs, but in some areas they can be split between the two parties, or they can even be paid by the seller, although this is rare.
The steps above are fairly similar to transactions that involve owner financing. The primary exception is that a deal that involves owner financing requires a few additional documents. Depending on the state and the specifics of the transaction, some seller financed deals will make the most sense to use in conjunction with a land contract (aka – contract for deed), which I explain in this blog post). Likewise, other seller financed deals will make more sense to use in conjunction with a Promissory Note and Deed of Trust, which I explain in this blog post.

That’s why you may want to tackle the job on your own.  These days, you can set your land apart from the crowd by marketing and selling it yourself.  Since the advent of the internet, it’s easier and more effective than ever, and the phrase “for sale by owner” has a particular cachet about it that buyers seem to like.  Many buyers assume that they’ll be saving the sales commission by buying directly from the owner.  Of course, you’re probably assuming that you’re saving the sales commission by selling it yourself.  Which of you is correct depends on how adeptly you handle your sale.


I had a question related to buying land lots from over the counter tax deeds (stuff people didn’t buy from tax deed auctions), which I know isn’t what you mainly focus on here going after owners BEFORE the tax auction (but I have nothing for a marketing budget now). As I understand it, if you buy land tax deeds over the counter, the county gives you a quitclaim deed. We are probably going to be getting quitclaim deeds anyway from many customers we buy land from as well, so I guess there is some relevance to this question.

If you have an underlying loan, given a choice between a straight contract or a wrap-around contract, offer the wrap-around land contract. It will give you an override on the existing interest rate of the first mortgage. Ask for legal advice about an alienation clause. The lender could call your loan due and payable if the lender discovers you have sold the home through a land contract.
Land contracts are useful instruments for sellers who are selling a home and contemplating carrying the financing for a buyer. It gives sellers a built-in income and generally a better interest rate than rates offered on money market accounts or certificates of deposit. However, a prudent seller should take steps to protect equity and ensure the buyer can fulfill the terms of the land contract.
Moreover, even though you’ll not have a lump sum of money to place against another piece of land or some other big-ticket item such as a vehicle or home construction, you will have the guaranteed income to match your payments, or some such new purchases, including the interest.   You’ll also get to keep a lot more of the money you’ll receive, because you’ll only pay income taxes in small installments over the years, rather than all at once, which is likely to bump you into a higher tax bracket.
That means, as it always has, that you’re going to have to pay for your advertising just as sellers always have, but take heart in the fact that you don’t have to pay nearly as much for national advertising as you did in the days of paper.  Better still, if you put a hit-counter on your web page(s), you’ll be able to keep track of how much traffic you get from each source. That will give you an idea of which ads are most effective.
As with other real estate transactions, land contracts require a “closing” to prepare, sign, and file all necessary legal documents. This article discusses the common steps a buyer and seller should take to close on a land contract purchase. For information on land contracts in general, see the Nolo article, The Basics of Land Contracts. And for a variety of useful articles on real estate closings, see Escrow and Closing in Nolo’s Real Estate section.
Nowadays all of my favorite software packages come for the same price: free.  So I’d check out what’s available at tucows.com or software.com.  You can also make a tolerable web page using Microsoft Word (which probably came loaded on your computer) however, if you’ve never made any web pages before, you’ll probably also be needing  web-space to put them on, and you can find both web-authoring software and web-space available cheap or free with a little thoughtful web-searching.
Make sure the deposit is held by the conveyancer of the vendor, not the vendor if unrepresented.  A conveyancer has professional obligations with respect to the retaining of deposits which are effectively held on trust for both parties in a transaction pending completion of its terms.  A lay vendor has no such professional obligations, although they of course have legal obligations but those obligations can often only be “policed” in Court.
When you're buying a property for just a few hundred bucks (which is how most of my deals work) and you're already on a tight budget to begin with, it can be difficult to justify paying twice the amount of your purchase price just to close the darn thing. If you're in a situation where you need to act fast, acquire a property inexpensively and make the closing as easy as possible, closing it yourself may be the most advantageous way to move forward.

Bargain hunters: Of course, some buyers may find you even without a buyer’s agent. “If you have a great house, in a sought-after neighborhood, and you’re on a busy road where you’ll get a lot of visibility, then you might do fine working with only the unsigned homebuyers who discover your house on their own,” says Schorr. If you’ve got a charmer with a great kitchen in an affordable price range, they’ll find it online no matter how far off the beaten path you are.
If you have an underlying loan, given a choice between a straight contract or a wrap-around contract, offer the wrap-around land contract. It will give you an override on the existing interest rate of the first mortgage. Ask for legal advice about an alienation clause. The lender could call your loan due and payable if the lender discovers you have sold the home through a land contract.
When deeds are drafted as a part of a land sale, they have to be recorded to become a matter of the public record and protect the buyer's ownership rights. It is customary for buyers to pay for the cost of recording -- after all, it's the buyer that benefits from having his interest in the property entered in the public record. However, this custom isn't always the case, and some areas assign the fee to the seller, or to both parties equally.
Hmm, I would think that most attorneys would want to control the recording process themselves rather than leaving it up to the buyer (because most buyers have no idea how to do this). Does the deed say that it was drafted by the buyer, or by the attorney? I’ve never heard of a rule where ONLY the buyer could record these things (maybe it works differently in Illinois, I’m not sure), but I know most recorders will only accept the original copies… so if you didn’t have the original copies (with “wet ink”), that could’ve been the issue too.
I’ve heard that it’s very hard to sell land/property with a quitclaim deed, and buyers (whether investors or the open market in general) will only want warranty deeds. So without me having to spend $2000 or so doing a quiet title or using Tax Title Services to make the deed fully clean and marketable and insurable, could you go into some depth explaining how to quickly flip/wholesale land parcels that I’m offering and advertising with a quitclaim deed I got from the county? What do I need to know for this, and how do I structure it to make it attractive, and what steps are involved? Is this something that investors/rehabbers are fine with accepting (if the price is attractive?)
Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not an attorney and the information in this article should not be interpreted as legal advice. Every state has different laws and every real estate transaction has unique variables that can affect these standard documents listed below. Even though these are the exact steps & documentation that I use in my closings – don't assume that this information is fully applicable to your situation. Before you act on anything described below, be sure to consult with an attorney or legal professional in your area to confirm you're following the right steps and procedure.
Now, far be it from me to discourage using an agent.  This certainly is the easiest way and not necessarily the least profitable or most expensive, especially in a booming market.  In a less-than-booming market however, it’s good to remember that listing your property with an agent will subject it to comparison with dozens, perhaps hundreds of other listings, all competing with yours in features and price. Selling your property then, will probably require that a potential buyer finds it to be either the best he sees… or the cheapest.
If you have chosen to sell your land privately, then you need to know that there are several ways that you can advertise your property. The absolute easiest way is to put out a ‘For Sale By Owner’ sign. This might give you better results than you expect. Many people searching for land simply get in their cars and drive around looking for a for sale sign. Make sure that you have some contact information on your sign.
When you’re selling a home, you want to give buyers all the details about it, such as a list of all projects you’ve had completed and a list of all updates and maintenance work performed within the last decade. You also want to show off the most desirable areas of the home, such as the kitchen or recently renovated bathrooms. Buyers are looking for details on the community, such as nearby schools, the friendliness of the neighborhood and property tax information.
Hi Seth, thank you for all this information, it’s a great post! I have a question hopefully you can help. My dad is selling his house to a company that buys “as is” in cash, they’re the ones doing all the work and they told me he would just have to sign the documents that they would send to closed the deal, (they’re also paying all closing cost) the thing is that the house is located in Georgia and my dad lives in Indiana, so they said they would send the documents to my email and he can do the e-sign. He already sign a Standar Purchase and Sale Agreement, I asked them if my dad needs to sign the documents in front of an attorney or notary and they said no, it’s this true? Since I don’t have any expertise on this I’m just helping my dad because he doesn’t speak English, I’m a little worry that I might be doing something wrong by not asking the right questions. Also for the payment they said they’re going to make the payment to the mortgage company and then send my dad the remaining money as a wire or cashier check whichever my dad prefers, is this also right? Help please!
Consider all offers. An offer can be accepted, rejected or countered. You choose how to respond but it's important to remain focused on your bottom line. Don't take any offers personal. Buyers generally are looking out for their best interest; you need to look out for yours. As the seller, you may decide not to counter if you think that the buyer is not serious enough to continue negotiations.
It’s possible to do all of the above tasks yourself, but most people prefer to have at least some of these (e.g. checking over the sale and purchase agreement, the transfer of the title) done by an experienced professional. In particular only people with a licence from Land Information New Zealand can transfer a title online, otherwise you need to do it manually.
A seller who accepts the terms of the buyer’s purchase offer should sign the offer making it an official purchase agreement. The seller may be required by law to provide certain disclosures such as of any known defects of the property, including the existence of any lead-based paint. Required real estate disclosures vary by state, and a real estate professional or attorney may be able to assist sellers with these forms. For details, see the Nolo articles under What Sellers Must Disclose About a House’s Condition in the Selling a House section of this site.
For what it’s worth, I do know of at least one wholesaler who has worked in Florida for years (though he does use a title company for every deal, he doesn’t close them himself). Given the logistical challenges with assigning contracts, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do these types of deals without a title company – it requires A LOT more running around and coordination than just paying cash and buying the property yourself.
With this in mind, I spent several months putting together a full-blown course that explains how this process works from start-to-finish. The course is designed specifically for people working in the land investing business, and it comes with dozens of video tutorials and document templates that give an in-depth explanation of each step along the way.
Hi Ben, you could use these for houses as well (I have in the past). The only caveat is that most houses have a lot more variables to consider (inspections, mortgages, utilities, etc.) – so it’s not a bad idea to at least consult with a title company or closing attorney and ask if they know of any other items you’d be required to have completed in your state.
Additionally, the land contract should indicate how many payments will be made, their due dates, grace periods (if applicable), fees for late payments, and how the buyer should deliver each payment. Under a land contract, buyers are usually treated just like a property owner, and will be responsible for paying property taxes, insurance, and any utility bills associated with the land use.
Seth, I hope I’m not pestering with too many questions. Your web site has been invaluable. It’s probably covered on your web site, but I may have missed it: In a purchase transaction where we are closing the deal ourselves with a Notary, when do we mail the seller their cashier’s check. After the County returns your stamped documents? Supposing the seller is uncertain. What would you think of (A) leaving the cashiers check with the Notary to mail directly to the seller upon recording of the transaction or (B) including something in the packet we mail to the effect of “transaction will be voided if seller does not receive payment in the agreed upon amount of _________________ within two weeks of recording”. I like the idea of including a copy of the cashiers check. Or is this just too much of me worrying over nothing?
Once you’ve got the mechanics taken care of, all you need to do is collect absolutely everything you can think of that will describe your property, which may include, but will not be limited to, a written description, lots and lots of photographs, perhaps taken in different seasons, information about the local area, last year’s real estate taxes, aerial photos, road maps and perhaps a .pdf or .jpg copy of the survey, if available.
×