It’s no secret that land investors often perceive real estate agents negatively, but today I want to tell you about an important discovery I've made.
Over the past several months, I have sold almost all of my vacant land properties exclusively through real estate agents. After seeing these results, I have built my entire company around strategic relationships with them.
By making this transition, I've been able to sell most of my properties…
- WITHOUT having to service any buyer leads
- WITHOUT dealing with any online listings
- WITHOUT having to answer that time-worn question, “Is this still available?” on Facebook Marketplace.
My agents have also saved me from getting stuck with SEVERAL troublesome properties that I would have otherwise been stuck with.
And the best part about all of this is, I only have to pay these real estate agents if the agent actually sells the property!
The Land Agent Questionnaire
To help you vet potential agents, we’ve put together a questionnaire as a base for your conversation. You can download this questionnaire below, but for those who'd prefer just see it listed here, the questions are below:
- Are you a full-time agent?
- How long have you been in the business?
- How frequently do you do land-related deals compared to other types of real estate?
- Have you worked with land investors of our kind before?
- How many closings do you average per month?
- Are you confident that you can sell our properties within three months or less on average? (We’re okay listing it priced to sell fast).
- Are you willing to visit the property and meet with potential buyers, take pictures, and put up signs as needed?
- If we list with you, does our property get displayed on the Land.com network, as well as Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, etc What other websites will it get posted on?
- Are you comfortable having us do a listing agreement for a 3-month time frame instead of the typical 6-month?
- What does your commission rate look like?
Our Process for Finding a Good Land Agent
The key to propelling your land investing business forward is finding a real estate agent specializing in vacant land properties.
My business partner and wife, Assiya, has developed to help you find great land agents. Check out my interview with her below!
Here’s a quick summary of the process…
What to Look For In a Good Agent
- Responsiveness: A good land agent will be very engaged and responsive from day one.
- Experienced: They should have several land-specific deals completed before you start working with them. It’s not your job to teach them the ins and outs of the land business; they should already know what they’re doing.
- Knowledgeable: They should be able to tell you specifics about the area where they work (i.e. county-level due diligence issues, details about the different parts of town, and what properties are currently being developed).
Warning Signs of a Bad Agent
- All Talk, No Results: Some agents will try to impress you with a lot of talk but they don’t have the results or experience to back up their claims. Make sure to get proof and be suspicious of anyone who pushes back when you ask for it.
- Lack of Follow Through: If they don’t follow through with their promises or commitments on time (especially if it’s something as simple as sending you a listing contract), they probably won’t be reliable for other aspects of your working agreement. First impressions are an important indicator of how the rest of the process will play out, so pay close attention to those initial encounters and their work ethic.
- Listen To Your Intuition: Trust your gut – if you don't get a good feeling from how the agent conducts themselves, don't work with them.
Where to Find Land Specialized Agents
You can also check out the following as well:
- Mossy Oak Properties
- Realtors Land Institute
- Land.com Broker Directory
- LandWatch Rural Agent Directory
I have had positive experiences working with agents from Mossy Oak Properties. However, you will still want to vet each agent individually to ensure they are a good fit for you and your specific situation.
The Realtor Land Institute is an organization that specializes in education and helping land realtors gain exposure. I do not have personal experience with them, but from what I've seen, it looks like a good potential source to consider.
Lastly, if you want to see a directory of land-specialized agents submitted by other members of the REtipster Community, be sure to check out the nationwide list of land agents and brokers we're building on REtipster!
3 Big Benefits of Land-Specialized Agents
To most people, a real estate agent is an expert at helping them buy and sell their primary residence (and maybe even an investment property, if they’re really good).
They are NOT experts at buying and selling vacant land properties, which inevitably causes most land investors to write off real estate agents as a whole.
However, there ARE agents who specialize in other, less-conventional types of real estate; they are just harder to find.
As a real estate investor, the key to working with an agent is to find one who specializes in your real estate niche. It can be a huge opportunity to leverage someone else's time and expertise if you can find an agent who is experienced in your niche (and they are good at what they do).
From an 80/20 standpoint, working with agents is one of the most impactful things you can do for your land investing business, and there are at least three solid reasons why.
1. They Act As Your “Boots On The Ground”
As many other land investors can relate, I buy and sell land outside of the state where I live.
One challenge with living in a different state from your property is that buyers often want to meet with the seller in person. Since this is almost impossible to do regularly, I have missed out on many deals because I don't have a physical presence where my properties are located.
However, now that I’m working with real estate agents who specialize in land AND work near my properties, this is no longer an issue. If anyone wants to meet in person, I can send my agent to meet with them. It's that simple!
Another incredible benefit of using agents is that they will walk the properties and analyze them before I buy them.
This is where agents have added the most value to my business. I thought several properties were good enough to buy after doing all of my due diligence. However, once my agent walked the property, they informed me about unseen issues and valid reasons to NOT move forward with the purchase.
For example, an online aerial map might show a dirt road that seems safe for travel but is nearly impossible to drive.
You might miss these things if you don't visit the property in person, which is precisely why I use land-specialized real estate agents. They can give me the up-close-and-personal details about every property I’m considering purchasing… without me being there.
Another benefit of working with land agents is that they can give me a solid list price for each property I’m considering, which I can then use to reverse engineer my initial offer amount.
There have been a couple of times when my offers were accepted, but upon further correspondence with my agent, I realized that my offers were too high, and I was able to back out of the deal or renegotiate the price once I had all the facts.
With as much money as I’ve made selling properties through agents, I can only imagine how much I’ve saved, walking away from bad deals based on their guidance.
2. They Are Your Outsourced Sales Manager
Most land investors' biggest bottleneck in their business is getting properties sold.
We obviously have more control over our purchasing decisions than we do over someone else’s, so most of our time and energy will often be spent advertising and selling the properties in our inventory.
When working with land agents, all the work involved in selling is outsourced to someone who can focus all their time and energy on this single task.
I no longer have to gather pictures, write ad copy, or post listings online. The agents handle all of this and more. I don’t even need to build a buyers list because the agents have their own!
Now, when the buyer leads contact me, I don’t need to speak to them personally anymore. I just send the contact details to my agent, who takes care of the rest.
And remember – it does not cost me a dime until the property sells.
Many land investors I know will regularly spend $300+ per property for professional photos and a drone video.
I, on the other hand, don’t need to spend the extra money on those things because my agents provide me with professional photos at no cost to me. They put signs on every property I own, list my properties on all of the major real estate websites, and even help me gain extra exposure on the local MLS.
When the property sells, I pay them a 6-10% commission, but that’s only when it sells. With all the work these agents do for me (including the deals that I end up backing out of), I find this commission very fair.
3. They’re Your Trusted Advisor (And Source For Comps)
One of the most challenging aspects of being a land investor is finding solid comps, and land agents are a fantastic solution to this problem!
If I am searching online for information in a particular zip code and there isn’t much data available, I have to call an experienced land agent in the area and have them look into it for me.
Real estate is a very localized industry and working with an experienced agent who lives in the area where they buy/sell is incredibly helpful. They know what properties have been sold and for what price.
They can provide you with localized information you otherwise would not have access to without visiting the area.
For example, I will no longer buy properties under one acre in certain counties. Why? Because my land agents have informed me when a special tax is required for developing smaller properties.
I would have NEVER known something like that without my agent making me aware of it.
Insider knowledge like that is pure gold!
Recap and Final Thoughts
So let's hit it all again. How can you get started finding a land-specialized real estate agent?
- Find a land deal worth pursuing.
- Search on Zillow.com for similar property listings to the property you’re going after.
- When you find listings that stand out due to their high-quality pictures and well-written description, contact the agent who has it listed.
- If the agent seems promising, Google their name and brokerage and look for details about their experience.
- If the agent has the proper experience and still seems like a good fit, vet them over the phone.
Even though a good land agent can handle the bulk of the busy work once you put them in charge of a property, you – as the investor – still need to manage your agents.
It's good practice to check in with your agents regularly. This is how you will know if they are doing their job appropriately.
Also, make sure you discuss property prices in your initial conversation.
Typically, selling a property for $1,500 isn't worth an agent's time because the commission is too low and not worth their effort. We have found that our Florida properties need a list price of at least $5,000 or more to make them worth our agent’s time.
We have had agents who still want to work with us on smaller properties due to our positive relationship with them, but this is an exception, not the rule.
Keep in mind that the price threshold will be market-specific, so make sure to ask your agent about that directly.