When you decide to sell your land – whether it be farmland, timberland, ranchland or hunting land, be sure to ask the agent about the websites where your land will be listed. After you ask about websites then ask about social media websites. We’ll do a two-part series and cover social media next time so let’s start with websites.
For residential properties the big three are Realtor.com, Zillow.com and Trulia.com. Although some may include Yahoo, it is really just a Zillow feed. For all practical purposes these websites are useless when it comes to the land market. They are not setup for easy searching for rural properties. They require “Actual Addresses” and for the most part they are just cumbersome and difficult to navigate for any type of vacant land properties.
For land the big three are LANDFLIP.com, LandsofAmerica.com and LandWatch.com. We all have our favorites, but for the most part these websites list more land than all other smaller land targeted websites combined. There are others that feed off or have merged with other sites but these are the main ones that buyers will find first in any search.
So, if your agent is focusing all efforts on MLS advertising which mostly only reciprocates out to residential websites to sell your land then you are likely not getting the full marketing you need. Land buyers search out specific land terms and visit land websites often. Most buyers will tell you that they have had a search setup at a land specific website for months or some cases even years in a specific county or even several counties. Recently, a buyer lead contacted us and told us that they found a land listing that they were very interested in but that the listing agent was from out of state and sold houses at their website. They wanted someone who was actually from our state that specialized in land to help them. They did not even call the listing agent on this property. Instead, they searched out the words “land” and the specific area. So, if your agent is not even getting calls about their listing then you have a major marketing problem.
Another issue with listings is IDX, MLS feeds, and syndication. Unh? What is all that mumbo jumbo and why should you care? Most folks do not care about these terms nor do they even need to know the technical details but your agent should know exactly what they are and whether they use them or not. If an agent chooses to list land on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) then agreements can be made and those listings can be shared via IDX at other agent websites with specific rules. Syndication is where the listing feeds out (or syndicates) to other websites. For example, most MLS’s will syndicate their listings to Realtor.com meaning that the agent does not have to go to Realtor.com and re-enter the listing. This all sounds great but the problem is that not all websites bring in the same data nor do they all present it the same way. Some will only list the brokerage name and no agent contact information, some will only import one photo, etc. and the list goes on. It can become a nightmare for an agent because when the listing sells they find it nearly impossible to get it off all the syndicated websites.
The bottom line is that you need an agent that understands and knows exactly where their listings are posted. Also, they need to be able to edit or delete those listings at each and every site. Nothing is worse than having an old listing that a buyer calls on and they are told it already sold. It frustrates the buyer to no end especially now that most of the major websites offer agent advertising by zip code. A buyer will click on a listing and then see three buyer agents that have paid to be there. The buyer contacts one of them and usually the advertiser has no clue about the listing. Buyer frustration cycle starts all over again. Buyers give up and start searching out the listings and specific companies that sell land and contact the listing agents directly about the property.
A major real estate firm recently announced it will stop sending listings to Realtor.com and Trulia.com. This is not a small specialized local company it is a huge brokerage covering multiple markets. You can read all the details about the specifics but the major point is that it is a residential firm not a land brokerage. They recognize the importance of their listing posts and they want their agents to actually get the inquiries and leads for their own listings. Each area will be different and no blanket statements can be made about which site or which listing strategy is best. However, one thing is certain your listing agent should have a plan for the marketing and know exactly where the listing has been posted.
Websites that focus on certain keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) are one of the best tools a land agent can use. LANDFLIP just announced a new specialized search for land listings this week called RANCHFLIP.com. These are exactly the types of tools that you should be looking for your agent to have in their marketing plan.
Written by Marisa Morgan Dallman.