Welcome to the John Hall and Company Selling Land in Alabama series. This is part four in the series. Go here to read, part one written by Pete Hall, part two written by Hoke Smith, part three written by Josh Hall& part four written by Robert Smith
There are things most people do when they prepare to sell their home: service the HVAC; paint, repair rotten wood where needed, clean up landscaping; straighten up furniture and closets, etc. The same concept applies to preparing your land for sale. All property is not the same. You would treat a 60 acre wooded tract differently than a 400 acre recreational tract with amenities.
Let’s begin with preparing a 60+/- acre wooded tract for sale. The owner should consider thinning some timber and using the money to install a good trails system and 1 or 2 wildlife plots. They should consider getting a boundary survey or at least mark each corner clearly. It is important that there are no boundary line disputes or easement issues with neighbors. Finally, a sturdy metal entrance gate with a lock is a nice feature. If the owner doesn’t know how to hire a logger and/or contractor to do the improvements, a good land brokerage company, like John Hall and Company, has access to these people. The main reason to do this work is “you can’t sell a tract unless you can show it.” If the owner does not want to prepare the tract as we have recommended, he can sell it strictly to a timber buyer. The owner will probably get 25% to 30% less i.e. $400-$500 per acre less at the closing of the sale. If the property is real secluded and has no road frontage it would not be wise to do the improvements herein.
Now, let’s discuss a 400 +/- acre tract of recreational property with a cabin, equipment, shed, a 3 to 10 acre fishing lake, and some wildlife plots with permanent deer stands. This type of property is a land broker’s dream listing, but only if it’s maintained and “shows well.” What should the owner do to prepare this property for sale? Some actions are similar to the small tract discussed earlier. The owner should mark all property lines and corners and install “No Trespassing” signs. It is very helpful to have a boundary survey but the cost can be $5,000 to $7,500. A survey is the only way to determine the exact acreage and our property in this example in this example may sell for $3,000 to $3,500 per acre. The trails need to be bush hogged and “limbed up” and wildlife plots need to be planted in winter or mowed in summer. The pine stands need fire lanes established if the owner has not done so. Many owners fertilize and lime their pond to provide plankton for a healthy fish population. The fishing lake should have some clean, mowed areas along the bank, a well maintained boat dock and fish feeders. Hopefully the pond provides good fishing because it is such a joy to see a 3 year old catch his or her first fish! The cabin needs to be put into very good condition with no roof leaks, no rotten wood, etc. The HVAC, plumbing, and appliances should be in good working order. The equipment shed needs to be cleaned up with all equipment/tools neat and orderly.
Basically, the owner needs to incorporate best management practices for his land, timber and wildlife. Not every practice is cost effective for every owner. It is very important to create a good first impression for your land broker and your prospective buyer when they arrive at your property!
-John E. Hall, Jr. CCIM