How Long Does it Take to Sell Land in Iowa

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How Long Does it Take to Sell Land in Iowa

Bart Waldon

Iowa is located in the Midwestern United States, surrounded by states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The state has a population of over 3 million people and a total land area of over 56,000 square miles, making it one of the major agricultural hubs in the nation. Iowa ranks highly among U.S. states for production of corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, and renewable fuels. The state also has a growing technology and insurance industry, especially centered in Des Moines. With its low cost of living and variety of job opportunities, Iowa draws interest from land buyers across the country.

When it comes to selling land in Iowa, most properties hit the market in spring or early summer to capture peak demand. However, successfully closing a land sale transaction can vary greatly in terms of time frame. Many factors determine how quickly land sells, which will be covered throughout this article.

How Long Does it Take to Sell Land in Iowa?

Selling vacant land or farmland in Iowa can take anywhere from 3 months up to 2 years, on average. However, it largely depends on variables like location, acreage, property conditions, pricing, market demand cycles, the seller’s marketing strategy, and overall patience for securing the right deal. With the proper preparation and persistence, Iowa land can sell within shorter time frames.

According to industry statistics, around 60% of land parcels listed for sale stay on the market for over a year before finding a suitable buyer and closing a deal. Another 15% of properties take around 6 months to lock in a closed transaction. The remaining 25% sell in less than 3 months if priced desirably and marketed well during peak seasons. So, while fast land sales happen, owners should set reasonable expectations that securing fair market value likely takes 12 months unless they get lucky with the perfect buyer.

Land for Sale Peak Seasons in Iowa

Iowa's peak land selling seasons typically run from March through August. The spring and early summer months allow buyers and investors to survey land conditions clearly after snow melts. Sellers often target this peak buying timeframe to generate the highest demand for their listings. While closing deals may still take months after listing during peak season, this timing captures motivated buyers ready to pull the trigger.

According to the Iowa Land Sales Report, over 55% of annual land transactions happen between April and July each year. The winter months of November through February see the fewest number of properties change hands just over 15% of total yearly sales. So peak spring and summer listing periods certainly improve seller visibility tremendously to facilitate deals quicker.

Variables Impacting How Quickly Land Sells in Iowa

Iowa farmland or development land can sell within a couple months or take two or more years to secure the right buyer depending on these key factors:

Location: Land parcels closer to major Iowa cities or infrastructure sell fastest due to commercial and residential demand. More remote, rural sites with limited access take longer to sell unless a neighboring farmer wants to expand. Proximity to quality schools and city amenities also raises demand.

Property Size: Smaller 1-10 acre recreational or residential acreages move quicker by attracting individual buyers for personal use. Larger 100-400+ acre parcels, like row crop or cattle farms, appeal to a smaller pool of farmers with capital and take longer to sell. Exceptions exist if the land is perfect for solar/wind energy development which is on the rise in Iowa.

Land Improvements: Cleared, maintained land with gravel/soil access roads, fencing, irrigation, outbuildings or grain storage sells fastest by increasing site accessibility and usability for a wider variety of buyers. Completely raw land still often takes longer to sell.

Pricing: Iowa properties priced appropriately in line with comparable land values for that county and competitively for local market conditions often sell within 6 months. Yet overpriced land well above reasonable valuations risks sitting on the market for 2+ years, even with quality improvements.

Marketing Exposure: The more online and offline advertising done beyond basic MLS listings, including video/drone footage, the faster quality buyers will notice and engage a property. Poor marketing exposure that limits buyer traffic inevitably means longer selling time frames.

Market Cycles and Interest Rates: When Iowa land market prices rise coming out of recessions, buyer demand heats up. Low mortgage rates also positively impact sales velocity. High interest rates or periods of falling land valuations dampen overall real estate markets significantly.

Seller Flexibility: Owners willing to price competitively and then negotiate patiently with buyers rather than stubbornly holding out for maximum perceived value tend to sell their land much faster. Refusing to budge on price is a common mistake.

With proper preparation across these key areas, Iowa land can sometimes sell astonishingly fast within 30-60 days in a perfect selling environment. Yet average marketing and sales completion time frames range closer to 6 months. Owners must often wait out slower winter months or seek backup offers during stronger spring and summer activity upticks.

Typical Timeline for Selling Land in Iowa

While each Iowa land deal differs slightly based on acreage, location and buyers, the typical process spans 6 months to 2 years when priced and marketed appropriately:

  • Owner researches pricing, hires surveyor, sets asking price
  • Seller lists property during March-August peak buying season
  • Potential buyers inquire for showings over 2-4 months
  • Seller receives and negotiates purchase offers
  • Buyer conducts due diligence over 30-90 days
  • Buyer lines up financing if not paying cash
  • Parties finally agree to a final price and close when possible

This general Iowa land sales timeline from listing to close lasts between 6 months and 2 years on average. Proper pricing, creative marketing, seller flexibility on offers, and buyer financing availability accelerate deals to the shorter end. Poor pricing, little advertising, stubborn negotiators and unqualified buyers’ slow sales to 1-2 years.

How to Sell Iowa Land Fast with the Right Strategy

For owners seeking to expedite sales of their Iowa land to 4-6 months or less, these proactive tips can attract buyers ready to move quickly:

Price Aggressively: Overpricing land dramatically dampens interest, while moderate underpricing generates bidding wars. Appraisals and comps guide ideal pricing.

Divide/Repackage Acreage: Breaking a large parcel into smaller 1-5 acre mini-farm lots tailored to hobby farmers opens more buyer niches.

Pay For Site Work Upfront: Investing in light clearing/cleanup, gravel access points, fencing improves usability significantly for buyers who see value faster.

Offer Owner Financing: Helping buyers finance payments over 5-10 years expands qualified prospects. Creative leases or rent-to-own options also work.

Streamline Deal Process: Using a title company attorney for paperwork, limiting contingencies, organizing disclosures to share upfront keeps sales moving briskly.

Manage Tax Implications: Consult an accountant to leverage 1031 exchanges to defer capital gains, estate sale exceptions, or installment sale payments.

Allowing Hunting/Recreation: Even temporary annual hunting leases keeps the land productive and noticeable to rural buyers.

Installing Small Cabin/Barn: Adding minor infrastructure like a tin storage barn, well, or primitive cabin enables more immediate use cases.

Getting listed just before peak March-August land buying season coupled with these types of proactive improvements makes selling Iowa properties much easier within a 4-6 target range. This takes some investment upfront but yields faster sales.

Working with a reputable land company like Land Boss taps into their market expertise on current pricing combined with networks of pre-qualified cash buyers looking for good deals on qualities like crop production potential, hunting acreage or future development growth areas.

Final Thoughts

Given significant seasonal swings tied to Midwest harvesting and winter downtime, vacant land sales in Iowa inherently take patience and persistence to maximize value. Yet the 25% of sellers able to close deals within 1-3 months still reap major rewards by acting during peak demand amidst low inventory, pricing competitively, and marketing creatively.

Realistically most owners should expect their properties to sell within 6-12 months on average if actively listing during March-August, pricing accurately, negotiating flexibility and not getting greedy holding out for the absolute highest bid. However, 30% of land parcels unfortunately sit for 2+ years even with quality improvements and desirable locations due to overpricing errors tied to overly optimistic assessments of market value.

The key lessons for sellers wanting to expedite Iowa land deals comes down to properly researching comparable values, competitively pricing below or at parity to move the asset, creatively improving marketability through cost-effective upgrades like gravel roads, hunting access or barn storage to expand buyer pools, paired with patience allowing enough time for the right deal even if it takes 12 months. Owners who get unrealistic about “winning big” with massive price hikes often lose 2 years waiting for Godot. Reasonably motivated sellers willing to price right and negotiate creativity sell faster.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average time it takes to sell land in Iowa?

The average time to sell land in Iowa ranges from 6 months to 1-2 years. Selling land can happen more quickly in some cases, while remote or unimproved land may take longer to find the right buyer. Peak buying season between March to August helps speed up sales.

What factors make Iowa land sell faster?

Iowa land sells fastest when:

  • Competitively priced
  • Located closer to major cities
  • Smaller acreages (under 40 acres)
  • Land has existing improvements/accessibility
  • Creative seller financing is offered
  • Strong buyer demand/low inventory cycles

How can you increase the chances of selling Iowa land within 6 months?

Strategies to help sell Iowa land faster within a 4-6 month target include pricing aggressively, paying for land improvements like access points or fences, offering owner financing, allowing interim recreation leases, dividing larger parcels into smaller lots, and marketing across multiple online/offline platforms.

Why does some Iowa farmland take 2+ years to sell?

The main reasons Iowa farmland can sit on the market for over 2 years without selling are:

  • Overpricing well above actual market value
  • Limited advertising reach beyond basic MLS listing
  • Seller unwillingness to negotiate price drops
  • Poor location/access that limits buyer pool
  • Attempting sales in off-peak winter seasons

Who is most likely to buy land quickly in Iowa?

The buyer types most likely to purchase Iowa land faster with cash offers and quick closings include:

  • Local area farmers looking to expand
  • Investors seeking farm rent income
  • Developers planning housing sites
  • Hunting clubs/recreation buyers
  • Equipment storage rental buyers

Targeting marketing and sales outreach directly to these niche segments can help expedite deals for vacant land or farmland in Iowa within a 6 month range.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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