How Long Does it Take to Sell Land in Pennsylvania?

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How Long Does it Take to Sell Land in Pennsylvania?
By

Bart Waldon

Selling land in Pennsylvania can be a lengthy and complex process. With over 46,000 square miles of land area, Pennsylvania has a considerable amount of vacant and undeveloped land for sale at any given time. The time it takes to sell land in Pennsylvania depends on several factors - location, market conditions, pricing, and your approach to marketing and negotiations.

Overview of the Pennsylvania Land Market

Pennsylvania features diverse geographical regions, from the forests and farmlands of central and northern PA to the suburban developments around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Much of the land across the state, especially in rural areas, remains undeveloped.

According to 2022 estimates from the US Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania contains over 7.7 million acres of total farmland. Beyond agriculture, the state has plenty of vacant residential, commercial, and industrial land for sale. With a strong history of mining and manufacturing, Pennsylvania also has many abandoned mines and plants whose vacant land gets listed for sale.

Overall demand for land in Pennsylvania remains robust in both urban and rural regions. However, plentiful land inventory across the state means buyers have many options. Sellers need to properly price and market their land to attract potential buyers.

Factors That Determine How Quickly You Can Sell Land in PA

Selling a property as unique as land often takes time. These key factors have the largest impact on your timeline to sell land in Pennsylvania:

Location

Like with most real estate, location matters greatly when selling land. Properties near major metro areas like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh see the most buyer interest and fastest sale times.

Land located along major highways or roads also sells quicker than remote parcels deep into rural areas. If your land lacks road frontage completely, it will likely stay on the market for longer.

Properties near recreational areas like state forests and parks or water bodies like lakes and rivers will also attract more buyers. And lands suitable for development into residential or commercial uses sell faster too.

Pricing

Setting the right asking price is critical to selling your land efficiently. Properties priced above the actual market value will simply sit on the market, accumulating carrying costs for the seller without attracting buyers.

Working with a qualified real estate agent knowledgeable about the local land market is the best way to price your property accurately. Recent sales of comparable lands can provide a benchmark for pricing your parcel appropriately.

Also build in room for negotiation into your asking price. In today's market, buyers expect at least a 10-15% discount from the listing price during offers and negotiations.

Marketing Efforts

To reach potential buyers and sell faster, you need to market your land actively, not just list it for sale.

Land is one of the most challenging properties to sell because it has no structures that buyers can tour. Strong marketing materials like professional photos, drone videos, and detailed property descriptions become even more essential.

Targeted advertising across real estate platforms and social media also helps promote your listing. Investing in a quality “For Sale” sign visible from the road further improves visibility.

Proactive efforts to contact local developers, farmers, investors and land-buying companies will generate more interest in your property as well.

Negotiation Flexibility

In today’s market, expect prospective buyers to negotiate on price, terms, closing date and other contingencies. How flexible you can be in those negotiations also determines how quickly you sell.

Sellers unwilling to budge from their initial asking price will lose deals to more motivated sellers willing to negotiate. Reasonable compromises on price and terms are often essential to getting a deal done promptly.

Typical Timeline for Selling Land in Pennsylvania

With the above factors in mind, here are the typical timeframes for selling land in Pennsylvania’s varying local markets:

  • Hot metro markets - Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg metro areas.
  • Time to sell: 3-6 months if priced right.
  • Suburban/exurban areas - Counties surrounding metros.
  • Time to sell: 6-12 months on average.
  • Major highways - Properties near Interstates like I-76, I-80, I-90.
  • Time to sell: 6-12 months if decent road frontage.
  • Rural areas - Remote lands lacking utilities/road access.
  • Time to sell: 1-2 years with extensive marketing.
  • Recreational lands - Near lakes, parks, hunting areas.
  • Time to sell: 6-18 months depending on recreational appeal.
  • Farmlands - Large tillable parcels with soils data.
  • Time to sell: 6-18 months depending on farm potential.

As you can see, location has a major impact on the time it takes to sell land in Pennsylvania. Rural and recreational lands with limited utility access take the longest time, often 12-24 months to find buyers. Lands near major metros or highways sell much quicker.

Proper pricing, marketing and negotiation flexibility will help shorten the time for any property. But some locations simply offer many more buyers and faster sales than others in Pennsylvania.

Why Selling Land Takes Time in Pennsylvania

There are good reasons why selling vacant land nearly always takes months or even years, compared to improved properties:

  • Limited buyers - Raw land appeals to a smaller pool of buyers like farmers, developers, builders and land investors. There is no immediate “move-in ready” value for owners. So marketing efforts have to cast a wide net.
  • Financing hurdles - Land is considered a riskier purchase by lenders. Banks rarely finance over 50% LTV for raw vacant land. That limits options for buyers, particularly owner-occupants.
  • Valuing difficulties - Determining land’s actual market value and development costs is tricky. Appraisals on bare land can vary widely, complicating pricing.
  • Long due diligence - Before buying vacant land, buyers want in-depth research like utility availability, soils tests, mineral rights data, flood zone status, permitting needs etc. That takes months.
  • Negotiations - With so many variables involved, land deals often undergo lengthy back-and-forth negotiating before both parties find agreeable terms.
  • Closing delays - Even after sales agreements, closing dates can drag out for months as buyers finalize permits, site plans, financing and other contingencies. Title defects also delay closings.

The inherent challenges and complexities of land transactions make selling raw vacant land a slower process in Pennsylvania. Have realistic expectations before listing your property. With the right approach, you can minimize your time on the market.

Tips to Sell Your Land Faster in Pennsylvania

Follow these best practices to improve your odds of selling land faster:

  • Work with an agent experienced in land - they have buyer connections and expertise in marketing and pricing land.
  • Price competitively - research recent comps and set your asking price 10-15% below market value, leaving room to negotiate.
  • Invest in marketing - professional photography, videos, brochures, signage and online ads help enormously to sell land.
  • Consider owner financing - many buyers need help with financing, offering in-house terms makes your listing more attractive.
  • Be flexible on negotiations - reasonable compromises on price and terms are often needed to close deals. Don’t get stuck on fixed ideas.
  • Market to investors and land buyers - groups like us at Land Boss who buy and sell land can be a quick exit strategy through an all-cash offer.
  • Prepare your property - removing any waste or debris, defining boundaries and taking care of any liens/encumbrances helps for a quicker, smoother sale.
  • Have patience - land transactions move slowly; work diligently on marketing and outreach efforts, it takes time to find the right buyer.

Following these tips can help reduce the typical time it takes to sell land in Pennsylvania. However, temper your expectations, as most land still sells in a 6-18 month timeframe, except for prime locations. With the right approach, you can tap into demand and minimize the time it takes to sell your land in PA.

Final Words

Selling land in Pennsylvania can be a long process that requires patience and persistence. The timeline to sell your vacant land or rural acreage will vary greatly based on its location, market conditions, pricing, and your efforts at marketing and negotiation. While it may take several months or even years to find the right buyer, particularly in remote rural regions, you can improve your chances of a timely sale by properly preparing your parcel, pricing it competitively, advertising it actively, and being flexible when negotiating offers. With strategic effort and realistic expectations, you can reduce the typical time it takes to sell land in Pennsylvania. The rewards of finding the right buyer for your valuable vacant acreage make the effort worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does vacant land usually take to sell in Pennsylvania?

In major metro and suburban areas, land may sell in 3-6 months if priced right. In rural locations, the timeframe extends from 6 months to 2 years depending on market activity. Prime parcels in recreational or agricultural areas take 6-18 months on average.

What steps can I take to sell my land faster in PA?

Pricing competitively, investing in marketing materials, flexibility in negotiations, and targeted outreach to investors and land buyers will help sell faster. Preparing the property by removing debris, defining boundaries, and resolving any title issues also helps speed up sales.

Does my land need road frontage to sell quickly in Pennsylvania?

Road frontage is a major selling point and will help land sell faster. Remote parcels without road access will have a smaller pool of buyers and will take much longer to sell. Easements or right of ways can help for landlocked parcels.

Should I get my land appraised before listing for sale in PA?

Appraisals are wise to understand valuation, but are not foolproof for vacant land. Checking recent sales of comparable lands will also help price your property competitively, which is key for a timely sale.

What are the fastest selling types of land in Pennsylvania?

Land near major cities like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh sells quickest. Also properties on highways, parcels near waterfronts, lands slated for residential/commercial development, and farms with good soil data tend to sell faster than remote rural lands.

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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