A Place of Your Own Part Five: The Land Search

A land investor friend of mine once told me, “The deal of the century comes along about once a week! With a little work, you’ll have more land to chose from than you can shake a stick at.” He was right. Finding land for sale is easy, provided you are willing to be creative and put forth a little effort. By all means use the internet, but remember that technology is no substitute for basic blocking and tackling. Looking for “land for sale” is only part of the process, but you’re also looking for land that can be purchased but MIGHT NOT be advertised for sale. There is a difference! To find your dream tract you may want to take a little different approach. Here are a few ideas.

Get a Buyer’s Agent working for you. They can do several things for you in the land search process that can compliment your efforts. They have access to listed property, either through multi-lists or their relationship with other real estate agents. They also can locate land that is for sale but not listed by any agent. Agents call these properties “pocket” listings. These pocket listings will never be on the internet and are rarely advertised in print ads. You’ll never know about it unless you contact an agent who knows about it, or your agent contacts another agent who knows about it. You might wonder why these pocket listings exist. If the owner wants to sell, so why not tell everybody? Often the owners of rural property don’t want their neighbors to know their property is for sale, until after it is sold. Maybe they just don’t want to hear, ”Why are you selling your land?” Who knows? What matters is that they are selling, and if someone is selling, you want to know about it. Plus, if your agent is out finding listed and pocket listed property, that frees you up to look in other places.

Spend some time riding around.. Actually getting in your car and driving around in an area, while expensive and time consuming, is without a doubt the most enjoyable way to prospect for land. More than once, I have bought land that I found while out driving. And believe it or not, the only method some landowners use to market their land is a sign on a tree.

Shop for Land at the Corner Store. This may sound as an odd place to locate land, but in small towns across America the corner store is still a place where a lot of information passes hands. You never know who knows who in rural America, but you can bet your last dollar that the folks at the local store know every landowner in the area and they know what’s going on in their county. The next time you stop in the country store for a drink or a snack, make a point of talking to people. You never know what could happen.

Spend time in the Courthouse. In most counties, you can purchase an electronic copy of the tax digest from the Tax Assessor. The tax digest contains information about EVERY tract of land in the county, including acreage and landowner name and address. Once you have that information, you can contact landowners by mail and let them know you are interested in purchasing land just like theirs. A lot of counties have this information available online now, so you can get landowner addresses and property information (including maps) without leaving your home.

Networking is the single most important thing you can do. Locating land, more than any other part of the land buying process is a networking endeavor. The goal is to know as many people you can who have some connection to land somewhere. With social networking and email, it has never been easier. So, call your relatives. Twitter your friends. Post it on your Facebook page. Tell everyone you meet. To be successful in locating land, you must build a network, and the more people you tell that you are looking, .the better your chances of having the land find you.

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