by edwige 

October 9, 2020

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How to Sell Vacant Land

Selling a house in a changing real estate market can be challenging. Selling dirt can be even more challenging…in any market.  In this article we provide tools for landowners and real estate professionals about how to sell lots and land, and why your strategy with vacant residential land needs to be different from selling a home.

Marketing Vacant Land For Sale

Every realtor follows the same patterns.

Buying magazine and newspaper ads. Hosting a weekend open house. Making sure Zillow is updated. Adding properties to listing sites and social media pages. Putting a sign in front of the property. Maybe laying out some flyers or business cards around town.

There’s nothing wrong with a realtor doing these things, don’t get me wrong.

They do them because they work and generate a profit.

The problem comes when realtors use these strategies as their crutch and depend on them to be their life blood.

Especially in a tough market or with unique properties, such as a church.

They continue using these strategies… which are the exact same strategies their competition is using… but they somehow hope for or expect better results.

And while we’d all like to think that wanting or hoping for something bad enough means it will manifest itself in our lives, we all know that it logically isn’t true.

So if you’ve got a vacant land that you’d like to sell or get rented out ASAP… even if that property’s been sitting on the market for ages, you can whip these tactics out of your back pocket and just watch closing after closing after closing start to happen.

Come up with some new ideas.

These real estate marketing strategies will help you stand out, get attention, get remembered, and more importantly… close any deal as quickly as possible:

  • Target Life Events on Facebook

We all love bragging about our life events on Facebook.

Almost as soon as they happen, we’re broadcasting them to the world.

It’s to the point that for “proof” we now say things like “Pics or it didn’t happen” or “It’s not official until its Facebook official.”

We joke about it, but we do mean it.

But people openly and willingly announcing their major life events on a social platform that gives advertisers access to this data is pure gold for someone a realtor working in residential real estate.

Think about it.

Because the vast majority of these major life events mean that people will need to make sure they’ve got the right space to accommodate these new life changes.

Life events like:

  • Engagements
  • Marriages
  • Moving to a new city
  • Announcing a pregnancy or a birth

And if you sign up for Facebook as an advertiser, you have access to target all of these life events within the geographic area you serve with your real estate business.

So if you specialize in inexpensive apartment rentals?

You can target a campaign towards young, single professionals under the age of 30 who’ve just moved to the city. (Probably because a job brought them there.)

If you specialize in starter-level homes for new families?

Engagements, marriages, and pregnancy announcements are going to be your thing.

And yes, you can have different ads show to the different life events: one set of ads for engagements, one set of ads for marriages, and another for pregnancy or baby announcements.

  • Re-target Web Viewers with Property Images & Emotional Ad Copy

Alright, so someone looked at your website page for a specific land but didn’t fill out your form to get in touch with you?

No problem. Not all is lost.

When people are shopping for a vacant land, it’s really common that they check the market for all different kinds of options before they start getting in touch with realtors about a showing.

It’s a normal behavior that you can capitalize on to make sure your listings get sold or rented out quickly…. via retargeting.

I’ll keep the technical explanation of how this works really brief:

If you have a listing you want to sell or rent fast, you can rig that listing with what’s called a retargeting pixel.

This pixel gets attached to visitors who spend time on that page checking out the listing.

When the people who’ve seen that listing are browsing the web—reading other websites or scrolling through their Facebook feed, for example—they’ll see ads for the property they’ve already checked out because they’ve been pixeled.

And beyond the visual recognition and reminder of what the property actually looks like, you can use this retargeting to evoke the same emotions you evoked with your description copy on your listing’s page.

In a case study done by Think With Google, one luxury watch company saw a 1300% ROI with their remarketing strategies within just six months.

If this sounds like an interesting strategy you’d like to try, but you’ve got no idea where to start, here’s some links to check out:

  • AdRoll
  • Google Display Network
  • Facebook for Business

Disclaimer: You only have the power to pixel people on websites you own. But it’s still a really, really effective strategy.

Things to consider when selling a vacant land

  • Get All Necessary Documents for Your Land

Start out by obtaining all of the legal documents that show what annual taxes have been paid on the land and any additional expenses relating to the property. In this step, you can figure out details about zoning and find out if making changes to the zoning is possible.

  • Have the Land Appraised

Hire an appraiser to get a professional quote about how much your land is worth.

A professional appraiser will cost you around $500, but they will be able to give you a clear idea of what similar lots in the area are selling for so you can set a competitive price for yours. 

It’s important to remember than an appraisal is still an estimate, and the temperature of the market has a lot to do with how much land will sell for.

In slower markets, land can sell for much less than the appraised value, and in hot markets, it can sell for much more. 

The value of your land will be based on many factors, such as the proximity to a busy road, zoning requirements, the layout of the land, proximity to local conveniences and amenities, and overall desirability of the property. 

A lot of things must be factored in to get a realistic price for your land. Some sellers purposely list their land below the appraised value to encourage multiple bids and hopefully start a bidding war.

Differences between Selling Land vs. Selling Houses

Many people expect the market dynamics for lots and land to be the same as the market for existing homes.  They are not. You’ll be better prepared to sell your home lot or land if you understand some of the differences between the land market and the existing homes market:

  • Lot and Land Buyers are Different from Homebuyers: These groups of people have very different perspectives, desires and needs. Homebuyers usually want move-in-ready, with granite countertops. Land buyers, whether individuals or developers, are looking for the right location and an opportunity that lets them customize to fit their needs.
  • Land Requires Different Sales Techniques: A home has a kitchen, bathrooms and a façade that can be visual and photogenic. You can hold an Open House for a home and walk a buyer through each room to help make the sale. Buyers can easily visualize themselves in – and fall in love with – the built home. It’s just not the same for vacant residential lots and land.
  • Market for Land is Less Active: The market for existing homes is almost always more vibrant than the land market. There simply are fewer numbers of buyers for vacant land than consumers looking for homes. Start marketing a new home listing and a new lot listing when both are desirable and priced well, and you generally can expect fewer contacts about the new lot listing.
  • Patience Required: Selling a lot or vacant land typically will take longer than a house. You have to be patient.

List of Steps in Selling a Land

While we have noted that there are many differences when selling land, at the same time the concepts are similar to selling a home. You just need to tailor your strategy, tools and focus for selling this type of property.

  • Understand Who Your Buyer Will Be & What They Need to Know

When selling a home you know your target market typically is a home buyer in a certain price range. But when selling vacant land you must evaluate who your likely buyers will be among many other factors.

Your buyer profile can depend on what type of property you are selling, whether the land has been developed already, its location and market conditions, among other criteria.  Is your likely buyer an individual looking for a lot for a new home? Or is your buyer going to be a builder or developer looking for land for their next project?  Or is your buyer some combination of those, or someone different altogether? There may be different buyers for finished lots, rural acreage or a parcel of suburban land in a thriving new home market.

  • Have the Land Ready

First impressions are lasting in real estate. When selling a home you would never leave out your dirty laundry for potential buyers to see, and you should also clean up your lot before it is shown and marketed. 

Cut the grass (or weeds), remove trash and take marketing photos of your property when it is looking its best. Some sellers even plant wildflowers to make their vacant land look beautiful. It’s like staging a home, but you’re just working with raw land instead.

Also consider having a survey done in advance and mark your property boundaries. For home lots, show setbacks on the survey too. This will provide useful information and help buyers see the potential in a property to encourage a sale.

  • Choose Your Price Carefully

Pricing can determine your success in attracting potential buyers, and pricing your lot or land too high is one of the biggest mistakes that sellers make…and regret. The wrong price will both scare away buyers from even inquiring about your property, and will cause your property to take longer to sell.

Pricing land can be trickier when compared to pricing a home.  Developed lots in communities may have a clear “market” price based on the recent sale of similar lots. Raw land, however, may have fewer “comparable” sales to use in determining your price.

In addition, the price you ultimately can attract for a singular lot or undeveloped land can vary greatly depending on the buyer’s intended use of the property. For example, if a buyer feels that your acreage is appropriate for a high-end home development it likely will bring a higher price per acre than if a buyer only intends to build a single home on it.

Consider your own needs when pricing, and understand how pricing could impact buyers’ interest. When selling real estate, you sometimes have to choose between getting the highest price and possibly selling quicker. Plus, your pricing may be influenced if you need to sell for financial reasons. In addition to your own situation, pricing your property ultimately requires an understanding of the land market as a whole, why people are buying lots or land in that area and who these people are. A good real estate agent with land expertise can help greatly in this process.

  • Offer Financing

The lending market for vacant lots and land still is difficult, so many buyers have trouble getting financing. You should have a larger pool of potential buyers if you are able to offer some type of owner carry or financing.

  • Use Online Listings Targeted to Lot & Land Buyers

It’s probably obvious that you market a home to home buyers. It follows that you should market your lot or land directly to lot and land buyers.

Online listings are an important part of any real estate marketing plan, and you should make use of all the available tools. When you market your property online you want to target people who are looking for lots and land.

MLS usually is a first step for real estate agents when they get a new home listing, and it certainly should be part of any real estate marketing plan.

But keep in mind that MLS is focused on marketing existing built homes, and should not be the only online marketing tool used for your lot or land listings. was specifically designed for selling residential lots and land, and attracts targeted lot and land buyers like potential homeowners, builders, developers and investors, among others.

Your understanding of your buyers and the market comes into play when you are preparing your listing. Craft your message in your listing to provide the information that your likely buyers need.

More Tips for Selling Vacant Land

  • Tell the Story with your Sign

In addition to online listings that target lot and land buyers, effective property signs always should be part of your marketing plan. Don’t just use a standard “For Sale” sign; we suggest that you have a sign custom-made for selling your lot or land (which can be done relatively inexpensively these days). You can help tell the story with your custom signs by including a few key points like acreage and property features. The sign(s) should be located for visibility, look professional and be kept clean and upright.

  • Talk with the Neighbors

Try some focused marketing strategies too. When selling a home you typically would not go to the adjacent homeowner to see if they want to buy your house, but when selling a lot or land the adjacent property owner often can be one of your best opportunities for finding a buyer.

Give the neighbor a call – they may want to buy your land for extra buffer, to add to their property holdings or just to control what is built next door. Another strategy is to directly contact active builders in the area to see if they are interested in your property.

  • Work with the Pros

Having a knowledgeable professional on your side always helps when selling your lots and land. There are many benefits from having specialized expertise on board, so we encourage you to work with a real estate agent who specializes in lot and land sales. They will help you understand the market, set a price and market your land to the right buyers.

Selling lots and land has its unique challenges and strategies when compared to selling a home, and these are several of the ways you can boost your selling efforts. Whether you’re just starting the process of selling your lot or land or you need to re-energize your efforts, we hope these tips help you. So take action and find a way to reach past the home buyers and get to that pool of active lot and land buyers.


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