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How to Sell Vacant Land

by Steve Lander, studioD

Selling vacant land is both different from and similar to selling improved properties. Many of the steps and procedures are the same. In both instances, you need to be able to clearly describe what you're selling and what its benefits are, find buyers and market the property to them. The details are different with land, though. The property itself has more variables since its use isn't already pre-defined by the building that sits on it. The buying pool for land is also frequently limited relative to improved properties.

Survey your land. As a part of selling your land, you will need to be able to clearly describe its boundaries and any limitations that might impact the buyer's ability to build on it. A survey will also indicate the location of utilities and of accesses to roadways. The surveyor can even point out the location of your boundaries, or stake the ground to make them clear and create a physical representation of the written survey that she will provide you.

Meet with the city or county planning or zoning department to determine both what your land's zoning presently is and what it can be. While your land probably already has a zoning code, some communities are open to changing zoning and, if that's the case, it's good to know before you start marketing the property.

Conduct any needed testing. For example, if you're going to be selling the land as a potential residential development and it doesn't have a connection to municipal water and sewer systems, you'll need to know if a well can be drilled or if it can support a septic system. While you can put it on the market and hope everything works out, it's best to know what you're dealing with before you end up with a surprise.

Set a price based on recent sales of comparable properties. If the going rate for similar light industrial land in your area is $2.50 to $3.50 per square foot, pricing your land accordingly should help you find buyers.

Place a large sign with a contact telephone number on your property where people driving by will see it. Signs can be effective tools for selling land.

Call the owners of adjacent properties. Frequently, the most likely buyer is someone that owns a nearby property and wants to add to his holdings. If your neighbors aren't interested in buying the land, they may know someone who might be.

Contact active developers and builders in your area. While you can find this information in a phone book, going to your city or county's building permit office can also be a way to shortcut the process. When you're there, look for people who are pulling permits to build on similar properties to yours, then call them. As with your neighbors, if the people you call aren't interested, they may know someone else who is.

Place online advertising to advertise your land. While sites like LoopNet and LandAndFarm.com can be useful, your local Craig's List can also be a good source of buyers.


  • Instead of selling your land yourself, you can also hire a real estate agent to sell it for you. If you choose to go this route, consider hiring a land specialist.
  • Land investors will frequently buy your land for cash, offering quick sale terms. In many cases, though, their offers will be significantly below market. However, if you don't want to wait to find an at-market buyer, an investor can be a good way to turn your land over quickly.

About the Author

Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.

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