“If the rest of the property is like this, then I’ve seen enough. Let’s go.” These are generally not words you want to hear during the first 5 minutes of a showing on a large piece of rural property, but it happened to a co-worker of mine a few weeks ago after he drove over an hour to meet a prospective buyer. You or your agent has to work so hard to get people to come look at your property that you should do your best to make sure it makes a solid initial impression on your potential buyers.
Over the past few months I have been the recipient of some of the best cooking I have ever eaten in my life. My friend takes pride in using ingredients from her garden or that are locally grown. One of the things that has stood out to me is the careful detail she puts into “plating” this food. The presentation is almost as important as the preparation. The food on the plate grabs your attention and makes you want to eat it. All of your senses are engaged as you begin to enjoy the meal.
There is a parallel between the presentation of this food and selling a rural property. Landowners who are trying to sell their property can do themselves a huge favor by making an effort to present their land in the best possible light to potential buyers.
Do you remember all of the lessons your mom taught you about the importance of first impressions?
“You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
“Put your best foot forward.”
“The first impression is the last impression.”
All of those sayings are applicable to selling your rural land. Prospective buyers form that initial idea as to whether this is the place for them almost immediately upon visiting a property. Here are a few points to consider about rural properties that can improve that important initial vibe your land projects.
Remove trash, debris, and junk from the entrance.
Repair and maintain fences, gates, and entrances.
Mow the grass or bush hog the fields.
Smooth out ruts in the road.
Trim trees and bushes to improve the views.
Clear internal roads and trails for easy passage.
Make sure water features are easily visible and accessible.
Pressure wash or put a fresh coat of paint on barns or other structures.
This list is not comprehensive, but is meant to spark thoughts about what you can do to improve the possibility that a buyer adds your land to their short list. Sellers please notice I have not mentioned pricing of your tract once in this article. This article assumes you are getting that part right and that your agent is marketing it properly. When all of the other pieces are in place, and the buyer shows up to your tract the first impression may be what sways them toward your property and away from the competition. In this market, the little things can make the difference between a seat at the closing table and more months on the market. And these things I mentioned above are generally just a little sweat, some fuel, and time. No need to spend lots of money here, just make the small improvements that create a positive feeling with buyers.
A landowner recently related the story of how he purchased his 500 acre farm some 30 years ago. The agent that was to show him this land turned into the drive from the highway. As soon as the car pulled into the long drive, the prospect said, “I’ve seen enough. Take me back to town.” The agent showing him the land said, “Are you sure, I think you will really like this place if you see it.” The man told him, “Take me to town, and if I can get the money I want to buy it.” Granted this is one of the most beautiful farms in the Black Belt area, with vast verdant pastures and a house poised on the hill overlooking the beautiful surroundings. But the moral of the story rings true with the prospective buyer in the first paragraph.
A buyer shows up to your property with heightened senses looking for a reason to like your land or cross it off their list. They are going to look very hard at this initial visit. Do everything you can to make sure that first impression is positive and that your property stands out for all of the right reasons. Even the most logical person relies on their gut feelings. Making small improvements and repairs could be just the ticket to giving your property the edge and helping you land the sale.
Think about how you feel when you are about to make a major purchase and you go look at that car, house, or piece of property. From the second you pull up, all of your senses are engaged trying to get some notion whether this is good, as advertised, and if it suits your tastes. Put yourself in your prospective buyer’s shoes. This careful examination is exactly what they are doing when they come to see your land.
Written by Jonathan Goode