Wash that Land Before You Sell it

Posted By John Hilton @ May 12th 2018 2:45pm

Wash That Land Before You Try to Sell It, and Fix The Box It Came In!

If you were going to sell your car, in all likelihood you would wash it, 
probably vacuum it out, and maybe even wax it. If you go to a car lot where 
professionals are selling cars, most likely they have not only done these 
things, but have went through the vehicle thoroughly and made it look it’s best 
in a process that the industry calls “detailing”. In this process, everything in 
the car is cleaned, shined, and cosmetic faults are repaired. They do this 
because they know this helps to sell the vehicle for more money. More than the 
cost of doing the work. If you go to buy a car, do you pick out the shiny one 
that appears to have been cared for or the beat-up, dirty looking one because it 
looks cheap? Chances are you pick out the shiny one that appears to have been 
cared for.

When you go to WalMart and take an item off the shelf and the box is damaged, 
you know that the product in the box is probably OK and WalMart will guarantee 
the product. However if you see one whose box is not damaged, you’ll put the 
imperfect one back on the shelf and grab the undamaged one. This decision saves 
you the hassle that might ensue from the damaged good. Many times that damaged 
looking box is the very last one left and is only purchased when there are no 
other alternatives.

These same principals can be applied to selling anything. I grew up in a 
family of salespeople. I’ve seen my Dad apply these principals to selling cars. 
I’ve seen both my Dad and PawPaw apply these strategies to marketing cattle. 
I’ve heard about some of my other grandfather’s escapades in marketing less than 
legal “shiny” stuff during Prohibition. I guess that makes me a true Alabama 
redneck, but I digress. I’ve been selling land for over 12 years now and have 
helped people apply these concepts to marketing land…which is the focus of this 
forum and the point of this article. When it’s time to market land, you need to 
make it look it’s very best. Shine like new penny, if you will. So many people 
do just the opposite though. Land is an asset that is often possessed in a very 
emotional way. The decision to sell it is often emotional, and once made sellers 
often distance themselves, on a very personal level, from the property. Often 
times if this emotional separation is not made, the seller will inadvertently 
sabotage their marketing efforts and attempts by a buyer to purchase the land, 
because they have not made the “real” decision to sell. To market 
the land effectively, you need to detach and detail. I will leave 
the detachment for another article and briefly focus on detailing.

Land sellers need to do the things that are necessary to make their property 
shine. Mowing and disposing of the junk on your property are the two biggest 
things…much like washing and vacuuming the car. Sellers need to dig a little 
deeper into the details in order to really make the property stand out though. 
Look at the property through a buyer’s eyes. See the imperfections that they 
see, and then set about to fix the ones that are economically “fixable.” Often 
times this is painting, light building repair, or just generally arranging your 
personal property stored there in an orderly fashion. If you have neatly 
maintained a portion of the property before deciding to sell, don’t abandon that 
maintenance once you have made that decision. Often times when I am showing 
properties, the buyers key on the small imperfections in a property. Things that 
are easily dealt with, but become an insurmountable mountain when they think 
about all of those little things together. Not only do sellers need to wash and 
vacuum the property, but they need to wax it too. Then move on to the other 
detailing jobs. Repair the fences. Mark the property lines. Clean out the 
underbrush around special features of the property. Make the property accessible 
throughout. Grass those bare spots and fertilize the grassy spots. Fill in the 
mudholes. In timberland sales, this would include thinning the timber when the 
stand is too thick to walk through. When detailing a car, the professionals take 
care of the undercarriage of the car as well. Even though it’s not easily seen, 
upon close inspection it tells a story about the vehicle. Clean up the 
property’s undercarriage. Take care of those things that are not easily seen, 
but a careful buyer will notice. (All buyers are cautious and careful in today’s 
market) This includes title or boundary line issues and a host of other hiddens 
that you probably know about. Just fix it, and then let them discover that you 
have repaired a problem that was not easily seen. That will totally change the 
buyer’s perception of the property and the seller they are dealing with. It will 
build trust. In a very cautious market, trust translates into dollars.

Make sure that the ready, willing, and able buyer does not set your property 
back on the shelf because the box is damaged. You may know that the property is 
perfect, but the buyer only believes what they see. Build their trust by taking 
care of your product. Wash that land before you try to sell it, and fix 
the box it came in.

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