How Long Does it Take to Sell Land in Wisconsin?

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How Long Does it Take to Sell Land in Wisconsin?

Bart Waldon

Wisconsin is known as the Badger State and features stunning natural landscapes dotted with forests, lakes, and farmland. Real estate markets vary across different parts of Wisconsin based on population distribution and land usage trends. As the 20th largest state by total area, Wisconsin offers plentiful opportunities for land ownership whether looking to buy acreage as an investment property or to build a residential homestead.

Navigating the Complexities of the Wisconsin Land Market

Over 15 million acres of Wisconsin's total land area is currently used for agriculture, making farmland and rural properties very common across the real estate market. This includes a wide range of production from dairy and cattle to corn, soybeans, greenhouse, nurseries and more. Wisconsin's leading crops like corn and soybeans ranked #1 and #2 for production value respectively in 2021.

Beyond agriculture, Wisconsin also trends heavily towards forested acreage. 38% of the state is covered by woodlands, supplying major forestry industries. Northern and central Wisconsin contain the majority of forest regions.

With this high mix of agricultural and forested lands, much of the available property for sale caters towards farming or hunting interests. Understanding these core land usage trends helps set realistic scope when evaluating parcels.

Shoreline properties occupy another key land segment in Wisconsin thanks to abundant inland lakes and access to major waterways like Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Competition for lake frontage generates higher property values compared to inland regions.

Whether looking to sell farmland passed down generationally or an inherited hunting cabin, selecting the optimal listing process and pricing takes research.

Key Factors That Impact Marketing & Sale Timelines

Many variables influence how quickly a land sale occurs after publicly listing the property on the market in Wisconsin. Below are some of the most influential factors:

Land Value

Like other real estate, land value varies significantly based on location within Wisconsin. As some of the most expensive areas, shoreline properties often start at $100k+ while rural farmland trades closer to $5k per acre. High value parcels typically sell at 90-100% of list price when priced accurately.

More remote or unimproved land will sell at deeper discounts, averaging 50-60% of initial list prices. Overpricing leads properties to linger on the market which pressures owners to cut prices. Finding recent sales of comparable vacant land helps set realistic pricing.

Parcel Size & Zoning

Smaller parcels, especially under 5 acres, generally sell quicker as they appeal to individuals and families looking for a primary residence site. Larger acreages cater more to investors, requiring deeper due diligence and longer decision making processes.

Zoning also plays a key role, with land appropriate for residential builds moving fastest. Parcels zoned for agricultural or recreational use often wait longer for buyers.

Site Improvements & Preparedness

While vacant, unimproved land offers greater flexibility for future development, the lack of existing infrastructure or preparations can deter buyers. Parcels with road access, utility access, mineral rights, surveys, soil tests, and other groundwork prove more enticing.

Fielding frequent questions on elements like boundary lines, easements, sewerage viability, flood risks, and more also delays sales if sellers cannot provide documentation.

Small investments to clear brush, grade access roads, or drill test wells demonstrate good faith improvements as well. Signaling workable land saves buyers added costs and headaches.

Marketing Exposure & Listing Platforms

Land sellers who only list on their own website or put up a yard sign often wait years for a buyer to find their parcel. Maximizing exposure both online and with local real estate agents familiar with area land trends accelerates sale timelines.

MLS platforms share listings across agent networks while sites like Zillow, Trulia, and broaden visibility to retail buyers directly. For vacant land, advertising through property-specific sites like Lands of America and Land And Farm connects with the most relevant buyers.

Social media also generates leads if directed towards investment groups, developer pages, or community forums aligned with the land’s best use.

Casting a wide net across both general and niche sites, including both digital and yard signage, ensures the highest visibility.

Average Time To Sell Land By Type

Below are average timeframes experienced to sell different types of land in Wisconsin once listed for sale:

  • Residential Lots: 6 - 12 months
  • Lakefront Land: 12 - 18 months
  • Rural Farmland: 18 - 24 months
  • Hunting/Recreational Land: 24+ months

These averages assume accurately priced land and strong marketing exposure. Overpriced properties or those lacking online visibility can linger 5+ years before selling.

For example, survey data from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue over the last 5 years shows only 50% of listings sell in the first 1-2 years. The other half take 2-5 years to close a deal.

Stages of the Land Sales Process

To understand why land takes so long to sell, it helps to break down the key stages:

Initial Marketing & Listing - This “warm up” period generally lasts 1-3 months. Sellers use this time to widely advertise the parcel. Interest trickles in at first as buyers debate if the property merits deeper consideration.

Buyer Due Diligence - Once multiple buyers express interest, they begin extensive research into zoning laws, site evaluations, proposal drafting, financing, etc. This stage lasts around 3-6 months as buyers determine technical feasibility and financials.

Negotiations - With their initial offers on the table, buyers jockey for position by countering pricing and terms over 1-2 months. Back and forth bartering leads to a “winning” offer.

Closing Period - Finalizing contracts, securing financing, Change of title registration, and inspections fills the last 1-2 months before completing the sale.

Total Timeline: 6 months - 2+ years

This overview simplifies the process but explains the lengthy timeframes. Those four phases also assume everything progresses smoothly at each step along the way.

In practice, many setbacks can derail deals. Timelines stall if buyers withdraw offers, zoning issues arise, title disputes occur, or financing falls through. This forces sellers to rerun the listing process from scratch.

Options For Fast Land Sale

For land owners needing to sell quicker than traditional listing processes accommodate, several options exist to divest real estate in shorter time windows.

Land Buying Companies

Working with a dedicated land buying company often delivers the fastest way to sell land in Wisconsin. Companies like Land Boss possess ready capital and an acquisition team dedicated to assessing and buying property.

By specializing in land, these companies accurately evaluate parcels faster than waiting on retail buyers. Land bosses extensive experience with over 100 transactions provides the knowledge to make quick decisions.

Closing cash sales in as little as a few weeks, land buying companies offer the speed and convenience land owners need during life transitions or challenging circumstances.

Sellers also avoid slowly reducing asking prices over months or years while hoping a retail buyer emerges. The ability to exit the entire drawn-out process in mere weeks provides major advantage.


Hiring an auction company effectively sets a definitive timeline for liquidation. While the eventual sales price cannot be predicted, if priced right, most auctions attract multiple interested buyers.

Closing auctions sales often complete in 45-60 days. Auctions work best for unique properties in desirable areas likely to drum up a competitive bidding environment.

Meanwhile, auctions in rural locations for unimproved land may still take months to finalize, especially if specified reserve pricing goes unmet. Choosing an accelerated buyout offer from a land company secures faster results.

Listing Discounts

Asking below recent comparable sales when first listing land essentially builds in room to reduce the price later. This attracts potential buyers who see intrinsic value pricing even early on.

Gradually decreasing price over 6-12 months allows for multiple chances to locate a buyer without sitting idle. However, this still means waiting at least half a year to finalize sale.

Key Takeaways

Selling land in Wisconsin offers plenty of benefits like stunning scenery and recreational appeal but requires realistic expectations when it comes to timelines.

While a handful of parcels sell quickly, average marketing periods run 12-24 months. And that assumes no setbacks derailing deals at advanced stages.

Land owners who need to sell faster benefit from the accelerated sales options land buying companies provide through their cash offers and rapid closing capabilities. With extensive experience assessing parcel values, these companies streamline the entire land sale process into just weeks in most cases.

By specializing in land transactions, these buyers offer sellers a convenient exit strategy. Sellers transfer the complex, time consuming work of evaluations, negotiations and closing coordination to a team dedicated to just that.

Final Thoughts

Selling land entails a long, intricate process with many moving parts that extend timelines. While Wisconsin offers plenty of lush acreage across prairies, farmlands, forests, and lakefronts, buyers approach vacant property with careful analysis before committing. Without existing structures or rental income, the value lies in potential rather than instant usability. This leads to longer decision making.

Ultimately, land owners sell faster when pragmatically pricing in line with comparable parcel sales instead of over-inflating expectations. Partnering with specialized land buying companies also bypasses the frustrations of attracting and negotiating with endless retail buyers. Their expertise facilitates deals in weeks rather than years. While obtaining maximum value matters, so does time. Sellers find the best of both worlds in reliable land investors who pay fair cash prices and handle everything from marketing to closing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does it cost to sell land in Wisconsin?

The costs vary, but plan to budget about 10-15% of the final sales price. This covers real estate commissions, legal fees, titling and deed preparation, plus any transaction taxes. Actual costs depend on if you sell the land yourself or through agents. Auction fees also range if going that route.

What determines the value of vacant land in Wisconsin?

Like other real estate, location matters most. Land prices fluctuate based on county desirability, access to amenities, zoning potential, parcel size, and site improvements. Comparable vacant land sales provide the best gauge rather than counting on appraisals. Nearby development also hints at property potential.

Can I sell my Wisconsin land myself without a real estate agent?

Yes, you can attempt to sell land on your own through sites like Craigslist or your own social network. This works occasionally for small, affordable parcels. However, agents prove worth their commission by handling marketing across MLS and online platforms, qualifying buyers, and guiding negotiations especially for acreages listed over $50k.

How long does raw land take to sell in Wisconsin?

Average land marketing times run 12-24 months in Wisconsin. Only around 10% of listings sell within the first 3 months. Expect to wait at least a year, likely longer without strong web visibility and accurate pricing. Patience runs thin among buyers exploring vacant land.

Should I take the first offer made on my land?

Almost never. Even if priced fairly, the first offers usually undervalue the property significantly since buyers hope to grab cheap land. Price drops also scare off serious buyers. Wait for multiple interested parties to trigger a bidding dynamic closer to actual value. Counter at least twice before settling.

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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