Q: I own a large farm that I have been trying to sell. I have had cattle, we do hay and have a hunting lease. But a buyer would not be able to make enough money to pay for this farm by operating it. I had it listed with two different agents who basically did nothing and made no suggestions. I no longer have it listed for sale.
What can I do to appeal to people with money in order to sell the property? Most agents want to get the listing, put up a sign, and just wait. I need help.
A: Well, it’s tough to sell your property if it isn’t listed. That’s just common sense. There are a lot of reasons properties don’t sell, but it typically comes down to poor marketing (so not enough people know about it), price (often, too high) or problems with the property (like the property is in poor condition or is not commercially viable). Any of these issues could mean your property will sit on the market, waiting a long time for just the right buyer to happen along.
The good news is that you have options to speed up the process.
First, let’s talk about unique properties. Whether your home is a large farm, ranch or mountain property, or it has a spectacular water view, sits beside a golf course or the train tracks (not all unique properties are wonderful), or is a penthouse, unique properties can take longer to sell than properties that are more conventional. That’s often because it takes a little extra effort to market a unique property, to which fewer people may be attracted or can afford.
Let’s say you own a unique property with acreage. Maybe it has a great view or maybe it has a regulation size basketball court in the basement. You could stick a sign in your front yard, but only buyers who drive by the property will see the sign, and it won’t tell them much about the special and unique features of the property.
What you need to do is to let the largest number of prospective buyers know you have the property available for sale. These days, that typically includes hiring an agent who specializes in marketing these properties or an auction firm that can reach the buyers you want to attract. It definitely includes online marketing, placing specially-designed ads on sites where your buyers spend time or using newer “geo-fencing” techniques, where you attract buyers who are searching for properties in your price range in your ZIP code.
Great home marketing starts with knowing who your buyer is: You said that your farm wouldn’t provide enough of an income, so a perfect buyer could be a weekend farmer or rancher, or a person looking for outdoor space and with lots of land. Perhaps someone looking for a rural lifestyle, with plenty of room to roam (a hot commodity during the COVID-19 pandemic), someone who might want to own or train horses, rather than cattle, or someone who wants to be able to shoot on their own property.
If those are the characteristics of the buyers you want to attract, you need to find ways to market your property in places where those buyers hang out. You might play around with Facebook or Instagram advertising, and show your listing by ZIP code. You might want to have someone take some professional photos, which you can put up on Zillow or your own website (hint: use your address, including city and state, as the URL, which will help with search). Hire an enterprising teenager with a camera drone to make a video of your property from the air.
You should tell everyone in town that your property is for sale and you’re willing to pay a bonus to the agent who brings the winning buyer to the door. You might even put your home up for auction, where the auction house will focus attention globally on properties for sale on a particular date, including yours.
Ideally, you’ll find an agent who knows how to do this and is motivated to try some or all of these common marketing strategies to get your property sold. But if not, then employ some (or all) of these marketing strategies and try to sell your own house. Surely, you can’t do any worse and, quite likely, you’ll find a buyer who will love your home as much as you have. Remember, your home was right for you, but you can’t market the home as an income-producing property if you know that no one will be able to make it work, so you need to market it differently.
(Ilyce Glink is the author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” (4th Edition). She is also the CEO of Best Money Moves, an app that employers provide to employees to measure and dial down financial stress. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact Ilyce and Sam through her website, ThinkGlink.com.)
© 2020 ILYCE R. GLINK AND SAMUEL J. TAMKIN. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
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