Selling Your Land: Deciding on a Brokerage & Choosing a Broker
DECIDING ON A BROKERAGE
Once you’ve assessed your property, you’re ready to decide on which brokerage company to work with. If you have a ranch (or a farm, timber tract, or plantation), don’t list with a company that sells residential or commercial real estate. Instead, work with a company that only sells land. As a land specialist, when I have a house I need to sell, I list with a residential agent because houses are their specialty, and they know the residential market much better than I do. Selling land is a specialized business, so you want to work with a land broker.
You’ll also want to think about which land brokerage company will expose your ranch to the largest qualified audience. This is often referred to as “reach.” The more qualified buyers that are aware of your ranch, the better.
Many land brokerage companies have websites but rely almost entirely on local marketing, which greatly limits your audience. The other end of the spectrum are companies that have an extensive marketing program targeted at land investors. This is a very costly undertaking for a brokerage company, but from a seller’s standpoint, highly desirable. Look to see which companies are marketing and doing business from coast to coast. The best companies have a multi-pronged marketing program that includes digital, print advertising, and event sponsorship. It is also important that the company has spent many years developing relationships with land investors. The majority of a good company’s transactions will come from these relationships. Look for the company that casts the largest net.
Historically, land brokerage companies have been somewhat covetous of their listings, and some intentionally erect hurdles to deter agents from other companies from showing their listings, so they don’t have to share the commission. This approach is not in the best interest of the seller. It is important that your broker has spent time and effort developing relationships with land brokers from other companies and treating them in a manner that makes them want to show your ranch. The company you choose to list your ranch should have a reputation of “playing well” with others, which increases the exposure of your ranch to qualified buyers.
CHOOSING A BROKER
You will also want to list your ranch with a trustworthy broker that you like. Do they tell you the truth, or do they just tell you what you want to hear? Are they straight shooters, do they have a good reputation, and do you feel like you can trust him/her? Do you think they’ll do a good job showing your ranch, provide a quality experience for the potential buyers, and show off the most important attributes? Or are they just going through the motions?
Some brokers will just drive the potential buyers around and never get out of the truck. A good broker will figure out a way for the buyers to experience your ranch. They’ll let the buyers take a walk, catch a trout, look for elk, and have a nice picnic in a particularly scenic spot. If your agent has three or four ranches to show the buyer in a day, they may not have time to do this on their first visit, but if they come back for a second showing, it’s important that your ranch stands out and the buyers have a chance to experience it.
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