When the foundation of an agreement has been reached, exchange the names, addresses and phone numbers of the lawyers involved (i.e., your lawyer and the buyer's lawyer). Get the buyer to have his lawyer draft up the details of the purchase and sales agreement (what you negotiated together, independently or through The Offer Maker®) and have them sent to your lawyer's office. Putting this responsibility on the buyer will help gauge the seriousness of the offer.
The disclosure statement is actually something I put together for myself (it’s not a template you’ll find anywhere). It’s not technically a requirement, I just use it to cover myself from any potential liability, in case a buyer didn’t do all their homework and tries to blame me for something, this is their way of stating that all their own due diligence is up to them to complete.
If you have unimproved land to sell, you may also find that the majority of agents are more interested in selling more expensive improved properties where they stand to make much larger commissions (and get fewer ticks) so your five acres of woods may get short shrift when it comes to exposure to the market. This wouldn’t be such a big problem were it not for the fact that these days, more and more brokers are insisting on exclusive listing contracts that obligate you to pay them a commission even if you sell the property yourself to the fellow next door.
One way you can do this is by using a third party escrow service like SafeFunds.com (I’ve never used them, but I know some who have and I’ve heard it works well). You could also give the cashier’s check to your mobile notary (if you’re using one) and they can deliver it to the seller after they’ve completed their documents. You could also just make a copy of the cashier’s check (to give the seller evidence that you have the money and it’s ready to go), and send this to them along with their docs to complete… and then you could mail it to them AFTER you receive everything from them.
Now, when you get into the more expensive properties, as a general rule – it’s usually safer to work through a title company on those (and it’s easier to justify the costs too), and in those cases, you may not have a choice but to do a quiet title action, because the deal won’t close without this extra step. But again, since there will most likely be more profit baked into these larger deals, it may be easier to justify these costs.
2. Clean Up the Junk: If you didn’t do this when you bought the place, now is the time. Other than buildings of value, get rid of everything that didn’t grow there. This doesn’t have to be a major ordeal. First check out local laws regarding what, if anything, can be burned at your location. Nearly all states have laws against burning old tires and many forbid burning other items such as other rubber products; wire; treated, painted or finished wood; plastics; garbage; heavy oils; asphalt materials; building materials, especially those containing asbestos; paints; and agricultural and household chemicals. Then, if you have anything combustible, and plenty of water and a way to disperse it, go ahead and burn what you can, but make absolutely, positively certain the fire is out before you leave. “Out” in this case means cold to the touch.
A lot of attorneys would love you to believe you have to cough up $1,000+ every single time you need to close a deal. There may be the occasional case where you have a VERY complicated deal that ought to be handled by an attorney (and in some states, the involvement of an attorney is required – see this blog post for more information), but I've found that in many cases, there is nothing wrong with using these basic templates to close transactions in-house.
Carefully research information regarding the price and terms of sales in today’s real estate market. Investigate recent sale prices of properties similar to yours in your immediate area. Know the property lot size, current tax information, and relevant property disclosure laws. Then establish a realistic price for your property based on that information.
Buildings: This chapter is intended to address land-only sales. Obviously, if your land has buildings on it, those can add significantly to the value. If the buildings are of any value, that is, a livable house or a barn or shed in good repair, this may be harder for you to estimate or to compare with others. About the best you can hope to do is to compare the number of rooms/bedrooms, the square footage, the general condition, and overall appearance. If the buildings are of marginal value, give them appropriate ranking, however as advice to a potential seller of real estate (I’d tell a potential buyer something else) don’t discount that shack or hovel too severely. A lot of buyers seem to feel somehow assured if there’s a structure of any kind on a property. Maybe it seems less intimidating than starting with empty woods. So if it doesn’t leak too badly, and isn’t going to fall down in the next few years, you may consider bumping the price up a few thousand dollars, or leaving it where it is so that the building provides another inducement to buy.
Soil Terrain and Vegetation: Most small landowners will prefer a mixture of hill and valley, but level agricultural land is usually more expensive than hilly ground. However, if your property is smaller, say less than eighty acres, there will probably be a better market for the mixed terrain that includes level bottomland and forested hills. Likewise, the best overall market exists for small properties with a mixture of forest and meadow as opposed to all woods or all field.
I do most of my own title searches these days, but only because I know what I'm doing. If you have no idea where to start (even after watching the video above), there's nothing wrong with playing it safe and hiring a title company to handle this for you. Pay attention to what they're doing, ask a lot of questions along the way and learn how to do it yourself for future reference.
1. The Road: The better the condition of the access road, the better impression your property will make. If your land is three miles of bad county-road away from pavement, then I wouldn’t waste a lot of money making the access from the county road any better than the county road itself, but remember that you can do quite a bit to civilize a dirt driveway with a tractor and blade. If you don’t have too much length to cover, there’s no substitute for a layer of 1” crushed rock (or larger rock in deep mud-holes). One layer of 1” rock one lane wide will cost you about 75¢ per foot around my neighborhood. Needless to say, if the property is on a road maintained by the county, or some other local government entity, and if this road has any work that needs to be done, this is an excellent time to complain politely about it to the wonderful folks on the Road Board. Most counties grade their roads once or twice a year, but some roads that don’t get much traffic may be neglected if no-one complains.
Limited pool of buyers: Most serious house-hunters are working with a real estate agent; the commission would normally get split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents. But without a commission on the table, no agent is going to bring clients to see your house. In fact, many shoppers are contractually obligated to purchase their home through their agent — meaning even someone who finds your house while out on a drive or surfing the Internet may not easily be able to buy it.
It is unfortunate, but one of the most common phrases we hear from sellers is “I don’t want to do anything to the land, just sell it as is.” At that point we begin the education process, but sometimes to no avail. Some sellers are just determined to leave significant amounts of money on the table due to the lack of “curb appeal” displayed by their property.
If you feel that your agent isn't performing to your expectations, engage in an open conversation with them explaining what you feel isn't being done. Refer to the services spelled out in the contract. It's possible that miscommunication is the problem, and tour listing agent should get the opportunity to make it right. If you still don't see results, talk to other brokers at the firm carrying your listing and see if they can meet your needs.
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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.
You'll want to have a real estate lawyer ready to go once you start entertaining offers. If you are new to selling privately, getting familiar with some common language such as deposits, conditions, adjustments, closing dates, etc., might be a good idea. Remember, you would need to get the services of a real estate lawyer to help close the transaction no matter what method you chose to sell. This is not an added expense to selling privately.
I have a brokerage in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee that focuses specifically in land, so what I have done is created a nationwide advertising service to attract more buyers. I advertise on several investor channels like CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business and then also channels watched by people interested in land and the outdoors like the Outdoor Channel.