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.

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.


With a Warranty Deed, the seller is giving the buyer their “Warranty” (i.e. – Guarantee/Promise) that the title to the property is free and clear and the buyer will receive all reasonable rights to the property. This deed should only be used when the buyer knows for a fact that the property's title is clear of any liens and encumbrances. Most educated buyers will strongly prefer this type of deed (and if a lender gets involved – it will be required).
The first obligation of a vendor to the purchaser is to make sure they can provide clear title to the purchaser, in other words, ensure your property can be freed of any encumbrances or orders or conditions at settlement so that the purchaser has clear title to the property.  Your lawyer or conveyancer can assist you with this but the obligation is on you so make sure these matters are worked out before you start signing contracts.
However, after the buyer makes his sixth payment, I give him title to the property, that is I make and record a Warranty Deed to him, and hold a Promissory Note and Deed of Trust in return as security.  Finally, as boiler-plate, I have the buyer sign a Quit-claim Deed back to me which is annotated to only be recorded in the event of a default.  This, in one stroke lowers my foreclosure costs from around $1,500 to hire an attorney to perform a trustee’s sale, down to about $27 to record the Quit-claim Deed.  Since I create all the contracts and deeds myself from standard forms, I save immensely on attorney’s fees.  Using this technique, I am prepared both for the long-term sale as well as, should it be necessary, a fast and easy foreclosure.
Negotiate the price with the buyer and finalize the paperwork. Once you’ve decided on a purchase price, you can write up your contract. Free contracts can be found online or you can contact a real estate attorney. Some states also require additional paperwork, such as a land disclosure form, so be sure to do your research before completing the transaction.

Advertise your property is for sale. Be sure to include location, price, dimensions and any other information that could add value to the land. For example, if your land has a lake view or beach access, it is important to mention that on the listing as well. Advertising mediums such as newspapers, television, signage or the Internet can be used to promote the sale of your property.


I have this document available for members of the REtipster Club to download for free, but it’s not something you can get here on the blog (because it’s pretty specific to land transactions, and I wouldn’t want people trying to use it for selling houses or other types of real estate, because it’s not really intended for that). Does that make sense?
The one technique for how to sell a piece of land that is the same for home sales is using imagery to help buyers get a feel for the property and to help them get a sense of what they can do with it. For example, when you’re selling a home, you want to include plenty of photos with the listing and hold open houses so people can get a feel for the house. You want to clear out clutter and stage your home so buyers can visualize themselves living there, without being distracted by photos of your kids.
I found the affidavit that you linked to and I get how to fill it out but the thing I’m stuck on is the notarizing. It has to be signed by both the seller/buyer and notarized. Obviously we aren’t near one another; can this document be notarized separately? Should I sign/notarize and then send it to the buyer for them to do the same? Have a mobile notary go to them? Any best practices?
While a land transaction is different in many ways from a real estate transaction in which improved property changes hands, it's still a real estate transaction. Land sales still involve escrows and title insurance and are still subject to transfer taxes. As with any other transaction, there are customs for who pays which expense at a closing, but the customs are also set aside when the purchase agreement for the land specifies a different procedure.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to use Craigslist, another option is Facebook. Mark said, “right now, people are selling all day long on buy/sell groups on Facebook.” However, these are not the typical raw land investing or real estate buy/sell groups. “They’re going to Craigslist buy/sell groups, recreational vehicles buy/sell groups, hunting buy/sell groups, or fishing buy/sell groups.”
I found the affidavit that you linked to and I get how to fill it out but the thing I’m stuck on is the notarizing. It has to be signed by both the seller/buyer and notarized. Obviously we aren’t near one another; can this document be notarized separately? Should I sign/notarize and then send it to the buyer for them to do the same? Have a mobile notary go to them? Any best practices?
In the very least, your land contract should include the address of the property and a full legal description of the land. It should also include the down payment amount, purchase price, the number of payments that will be made, the monthly payment amounts, and any balloon payments that may be required. You may also consider creating and attaching an amortization schedule.

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Conducting a self-closed real estate transaction isn't appropriate for all people and situations. The process DOES require some significant attention to detail and organizational skills. Some people are very good at staying organized and keeping track of these details, and others aren't. Don't try to close your own deals unless you're willing to go slow and get the help you need to ensure you're completing each step in accordance with the laws and regulations of your state.

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.
Depending on the property, you may even find that closing the transaction yourself can be faster and less cumbersome for everyone involved. If for no other reason – I've found that it's extremely helpful to have a basic working knowledge of how real estate transactions actually work. It's important to understand why title companies require what they do in a closing, which documents are an absolute must, and which documents are more discretionary in nature.
Hi Dothan – thanks for asking! The package explains all of the standard steps for handling the closing in-house, but it’s geared more towards vacant land investors (and vacant lots are a bit simpler to close on than a standard home). If you’re working with a bank, they might even require that you go through a title company (and honestly, if the purchase price is $10,000 or higher, it should be fairly easy to justify the closing costs).
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.
A closing statement should be prepared to show an accounting of the debits and credits to each the buyer and to the seller as part of the land contract transaction. An attorney or a title agency can prepare a closing statement for the parties. The closing statement may also contain an amortization schedule showing the projected payments to be made from buyer to seller to fulfill the financial obligation of the land contract.

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.


I sold a house in Illinois with assistance of an attorney four years ago. The attorney instructed the buyer to record the deed during the closing. The buyer has never done so. I still receive the tax bills that I pass on to buyer with requests that he record the deed. I took all documentation of the sale to the county recorder but was informed that only the buyer could record the deed. Any advice?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?

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!


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.
Access: While few in number, there are still some properties that don’t have legal access – that is, a deeded access-easement, or frontage on a public road.  This is what is known as “landlocked” property, and it is of considerably less value.  If you see an extremely low-priced piece of land for sale, it may be a bargain, or it may just not have legal access.  Curing this can be fairly simple, but don’t count on it.  If it were an easy matter, it would likely already have been fixed.  In most cases, legal access will require a deed from the neighbor whose land you’re crossing, and folks tend not to like to sign deeds unless they get something of significant value in return.
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