How to find cash buyers for land in Elko County, NV

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How to find cash buyers for land in Elko County, NV

Bart Waldon

With over 17,000 square miles of land area, Elko County in rural northeastern Nevada is the fourth largest county in the United States. While the county seat of Elko has a population of around 20,000 residents, much of this massive county consists of sparsely populated rural land stretching for hundreds of miles.

Selling land in Elko County can be a major challenge compared to more developed areas, especially if you are looking for cash buyers who can close quickly. The remote location, lack of infrastructure, seasonal access issues, and relatively low demand make it one of the toughest markets for sellers.

However, with the right strategy tailored specifically to the Elko County real estate market, it is possible to successfully find and sell to cash buyers willing to pay fair price for your land. This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know to maximize your chances of a fair cash offer, attracting qualified cash buyers and closing a deal efficiently.

Why Selling Land is Slow in Elko County

Before diving into tactics, it’s important to understand the inherent challenges of the Elko County land market that contribute to slower sale timelines compared to many other areas of the country. The key factors holding back the market include:

Remote Rural Location

The sheer remoteness and rural nature of much of Elko County inherently limits the pool of potential buyers for land parcels here. With the nearest major cities like Salt Lake City, Reno, and Boise all over 5 hours driving distance from most of the county, there simply are not large numbers of buyers who are willing to purchase and live on very isolated rural land.

The remote location also makes it extremely difficult for any out-of-town buyers to view and access potential land purchases. Areas like the O’Neil Basin or Adobe Range may be hundreds of miles from an airport, so buyers cannot simply fly in for a property viewing. This remoteness filters buyers down to only the heartiest who are accustomed to rural isolation.

Lack of Infrastructure and Development

Aside from the immediate area around the City of Elko and a few small towns, most of Elko County lacks significant infrastructure like roads, electricity, water access, and other utilities. This makes any sort of development very difficult and expensive. This situation generally excludes all but the most motivated buyers, who will have to budget huge sums to survey, grade, trench, install wells and septic, and bring power lines potentially for miles to any undeveloped parcel.

Most buyers looking in Elko County are seeking land that is either already fully developed and ready for buildings, or at least has utilities relatively close by. Undeveloped land parcels often linger on the market because few buyers can stomach the daunting development costs required.

Buyers Primarily Interested in Recreation or Mining

Two of the main attractions luring potential buyers to look at land in rural Elko County are recreational amenities and mining opportunities.

For recreation, buyers may be interested in large acreage parcels for activities like hunting, ATV riding, horseback riding, camping, or to build a remote cabin retreat. The wide open spaces and abundant public land do offer fantastic recreational potential. However, buyers focused solely on these kinds of recreational uses are typically on very tight budgets and not motivated to pay top dollar or act as cash buyers who can close quickly. They tend to wait for bargains.

Other buyers may be speculating on mining potential for metals like gold, silver, lithium, and others that are found in parts of Elko County. But most lack the expertise or financing to conduct serious mining operations, so they are often just bargain hunting for cheap land where they can explore and hope to get lucky. These buyers do not make for motivated cash buyers who will pay fair market value.

Harsh Winters Limiting Access

The extremely cold winters and heavy snows that are common across most of Elko County make access to properties impossible for months at a time each year. While main highways and roads are kept cleared, reaching remote rural parcels especially at higher elevations will be completely cut off all winter in many cases.

This short selling window puts time pressure on transactions, as serious buyers know they need to complete due diligence like land surveys, environmental assessments, and title research during the warmer months when they can actually access the properties. This time crunch tends to elongate transaction timelines.

Low Overall Market Demand in Elko County

The simple reality is that market demand for real estate in Elko County is relatively modest due to low population density across most of the massive county. Outside of the immediate Elko urban area, most towns have populations under 10,000 residents, limiting the pool of potential local buyers.

Long marketing times are typical for land parcels here because it can take significant time for the right prospective buyer to come along and learn about any given listing. With demand spread thin over a huge land area, properties languish compared to regions with denser buyer activity. Sellers must account for this when setting expectations on time to sell.

Why Discounting Price is Often Necessary

Discount land to sell fast
You may need to significantly discount your price to sell land faster

Given all the challenges and limitations of the Elko County real estate market, persuasive discounting from initial asking prices is very often necessary to successfully attract qualified cash buyers who can close deals.

Trying to sell land in Elko County at full retail prices may be possible when all the stars align perfectly with an ideal parcel and ideal cash buyer together, but most of the time aggressive price drops are needed to finally find the formula that sparks a cash buyer’s interest.

Smart sellers recognize that offering discounts from initial asking prices greatly improves their chances of actually selling their land. Here are some of the reasons discounting makes sense:

Creates Urgency and Incentivizes Buyers

Simply put, dropping the price motivates buyers who may not have been interested at the full original asking price. Humans are conditioned to value a deal, so seeing a discount naturally creates more urgency and excites prospective buyers. Even a 10% price drop can generate a psychological reaction where buyers suddenly view the parcel as more attractive.

Discounting gives buyers a monetary incentive to move forward and complete a cash purchase instead of continuing to shop around. Buyers who have been casual tire kickers may turn into motivated buyers ready to transact once an appealing discount or cash offer is offered.

Accounts for Significant Development Costs on Raw Land

On undeveloped rural parcels that still require major infrastructure built out, offering a solid discount from asking prices helps account for the huge expenses the buyer will have to budget for getting electricity, drilling a well, installing septic, grading roads, etc.

These development costs quickly add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on raw land in rural areas like Elko County. A discounted sales price helps balance out the deficit and makes the overall investment more palatable for potential buyers who will be nervous to take on these major improvement costs.

Pricing Must Reflect Local Market Conditions

It is important when setting asking prices to thoroughly research recent comparable sales in the immediate area and price accordingly. Rural Elko County land sales often transact at lower price per acre than the asking prices of active listings just sitting on the market.

Buyers are very savvy at recognizing when properties are overpriced compared to comps. Adjusting asking prices down closer to actual recent sales activity demonstrates to buyers that you have properly aligned expectations with current market reality. This perceived honesty on the seller’s part establishes trust and credibility.

Account for Selling Costs Upfront

When determining an appropriate asking price, it is important to factor in that the various selling costs, including broker commissions, real estate fees, title fees, transfer taxes, plus any other closing costs, will effectively reduce the net proceeds the seller walks with at closing.

Building these expenses into the asking price from day one ensures the seller nets their minimum target proceeds, instead of being surprised later after costs are deducted from the gross sale price. This may mean pricing lower than the seller initially hoped to attract balanced offers.

Avoid Overpricing Compared to Market Value

One of the most fundamental mistakes made by land sellers in Elko County and elsewhere is simply setting the asking price too far above the actual current fair market value of their property. This tends to happen frequently with sellers who have unrealistic emotional attachments and want to sell their land.

The reality is that overpriced properties almost never sell quickly, because savvy buyers will instantly recognize when a parcel is overpriced and lose interest. On the other hand, an accurately priced or discounted property signals to buyers that the seller has properly aligned their expectations with the local market. This motivates buyer interest and produces offers.

Overview of Key Areas and Towns in Elko County

Spanning over 17,000 square miles from the Utah border to the Idaho line, Elko County encompasses a wide variety of landscapes ranging from high elevation mountain peaks to seemingly endless sagebrush valleys and everything in between. Here is a brief overview of some of the notable areas and towns throughout the county:

City of Elko

With around 20,000 residents, the city of Elko is the urban hub and county seat of Elko County. It offers most services and amenities you would expect in a small city, such as multiple grocery stores, car dealerships, medical facilities including a regional hospital, shopping centers, and more.

Downtown Elko boasts a quaint historic district with antique shops, restaurants, and bars catering to both locals and visitors. The Western Folklife Center offers regular cultural exhibits and entertainment.

Real estate prices are highest in and around the city limits of Elko. But even here, land prices are very reasonable compared to most other urban areas in the western US. Overall demand is steady, especially for housing catering to the mining workforce.

Spring Creek

Located around 10 miles southwest of downtown Elko, Spring Creek is a census-designated place with a population around 15,000 residents. It primarily serves as a bedroom community providing suburban-style housing for Elko workers, though some area services and small businesses are also located here.

Home prices in Spring Creek are slightly lower on average than comparable properties in Elko proper, while land prices can be a mixed bag with some parcels higher and some lower than Elko depending on exact location and amenities.


Jackpot is an unincorporated rural border community in far northern Elko County, located about 75 miles north of Elko City right along the Idaho state line. Unlike most of Elko County, Jackpot's economy is driven heavily by legalized gambling and tourism from visitors attracted to its casino gaming resorts.

Land prices in the Jackpot area tend to be moderate overall, with commercial parcels on Highways 93 and 225 commanding premium value from gaming-related businesses. Residential parcels tend to be affordable but infrastructure is lacking outside of town.


The rural mining town of Wells is located along Interstate 80 about 55 miles east of Elko City. It has a population of around 1,300 residents. The economy is focused around gold mining, with several active open pit mines near town. A major rail freight yard supporting the mines also provides local jobs.

Due to its very small size and distance from Elko, real estate prices in Wells are generally at the lower end of the spectrum for Elko County. This can make it an attractive bargain for buyers willing to live in a remote small town setting.


Carlin sits along Interstate 80 roughly halfway between Elko and Wells, making it about 80 miles east of Elko. Gold mining along with transportation and warehousing services for I-80 travelers drive the economy. Population is approximately 2,500 residents.

As one of the least amenity-rich towns in Elko County, average real estate prices in Carlin skew low compared to the Elko area, especially for residential and property owners. Business property near the interstate interchange is more sought after and higher priced.

West Wendover

Located along the western county border abutting Utah, the small town of West Wendover has around 5,000 full time residents, though tourists nearly double the population size when visiting the town’s casino resorts. The economy is anchored on gaming and entertainment.

Real estate values in West Wendover are generally moderate overall but fluctuate based on proximity to the core casino district. Commercial land near the major casinos commands big premiums, while residential parcels are reasonably priced for the county.


Tuscarora is a tiny rural mining village located northwest of Elko in the Independence Mountains. It is over 50 miles from Elko City by road. Only around 100 people live in Tuscarora, with gold mining sustaining the isolated community.

Due to its exceptionally remote setting and nearly complete lack of amenities and infrastructure, real estate prices are among the lowest in the entire county. But development costs here are staggering, limiting buyer interest to only the most committed.

Mountain City

Mountain City is an even smaller town than Tuscarora, located along State Route 225 about 97 miles northeast of Elko City in the remote Independence Mountains. Only around 10 people live in Mountain City, which consists of just a few buildings.

Parcels trade hands very rarely in and around Mountain City, but prices are exceptionally cheap given the isolated location, elevation extremes, and lack of any services. Buyers must be fully self-sufficient to live here.

O’Neil Basin

The O’Neil Basin is a vast undeveloped area spanning approximately 110 miles north to south in central Elko County from Wells to West Wendover along the Utah border. This basin consists of wide open sagebrush plains and hills, with a few ranches scattered throughout.

Real estate prices are very inexpensive due to the complete lack of any infrastructure or development here. But remoteness is extreme, with access roads sparse and often unpaved. Only a few sales happen occasionally to buyers focused on isolation.

Adobe Range

The Adobe Range is a remote mountain range located in western Elko County, northwest of Elko City. It consists of high peaks and ridges, alpine forests, open meadows, and limited dirt road access. Large sections are under the jurisdiction of the Humboldt National Forest.

Land parcels are available in the Adobe Range but sell infrequently due to the absence of any utilities, isolation from towns, and weather extremes. Prices are very inexpensive but development costs make buying here prohibitive for most. The region mainly attracts DIY owner-builder types.

South Fork Indian Reservation

The South Fork Indian Reservation occupies 69,000 acres along the southern border of Elko County. It is home to the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians and contains the communities of Elko Colony, Lee, Battle Mountain Colony, and South Fork.

Land within the reservation boundaries is not for sale to the general public. Buyers may find private inholdings within the reservation that are available, but selection is extremely limited. Activities on these lands are subject to tribal oversight.

Effective Strategies for Marketing and Selling Land

With a solid understanding of the Elko County land market conditions, sellers can deploy the right strategies for overcoming the challenges and successfully attracting qualified cash buyers at fair prices. Here are some of the top tactics to focus on:

Price Realistically From the Start

It simply cannot be overstated that properly pricing land at or slightly below fair market value based on comparable sales is the number one factor in attracting buyers and selling quickly in Elko County. Ambitious overpricing is the surest way to lose buyer interest and extend selling timelines.

Research recent sales of similar parcels and current listings to identify price per acre trends for your area and property type. Focus on direct comps first, then expand to broader trends. Consider going 5-10% under the prevailing rate to build in room for negotiating. Price on the low end rather than high end of the range.

Avoid getting emotionally attached to a certain sale price or yielding to the temptation to “start high and negotiate down” with unrealistically ambitious pricing. This rarely works in a slow market like Elko County, where buyers will just dismiss overpriced listings.

Highlight Access, Location and Existing Infrastructure

While the whole county is remote, some properties are vastly more accessible than others. On your marketing materials, emphasize any decent access roads, proximity to highways and interstates, and especially distance to local area services and amenities.

For rural land purchases, factors like the availability of utilities nearby, distance to the closest gas station or grocery market, quality of cell phone service, ease of highway access to reach the parcel, and so on can make or break buyer interest.

If your land already has power, water, structures etc, ensure these details are not buried but prominently featured. Existing infrastructure dramatically expands the pool of buyers compared to raw land.

Focus Marketing Outreach Locally

Recognize that potential buyers for Elko County properties will predominantly come from the local area or elsewhere within Nevada. Out-of-state buyers are rare due to the remote location. Focus your marketing efforts locally:

  • Advertise with classifieds in Elko County newspapers
  • Post flyers on community bulletin boards in towns
  • Take out radio spots on local stations
  • Engage with groups like off-roading clubs based in the region
  • Participate in local events to mention you have land available

Avoid spending big money on national print ads, online ads, trade journals etc which will not reach the right buyers. Think local first.

Offer Creative Financing Options

Finding cash buyers is tricky in any rural market. Where possible, consider offering creative seller financing options to help motivate buyers with the means to purchase but not the immediate cash liquidity.

For example, carrying a mortgage yourself at an attractive interest rate with a large 30-50% down payment can allow buyers to purchase without full cash outlay. You collect interest as the seller, while the buyer can still get financing.

An installment land contract is another tool where the buyer makes payments over several years to the seller directly without any bank involvement. Consider these alternatives to expand your buyer pool beyond just cash buyers.

Connect With Local Investor Groups

Another angle is to directly contact and market to active real estate investors, developers, builders, and investment groups based in the Elko County region. Many investors are looking for discounted land deals suitable for future housing projects, commercial development, mineral speculators, recreational compounds, and more.

Let these buyers know you have land available at favorable pricing and are willing to negotiate win-win deals for groups able to only buy land in volume. Investors may be able to pay cash right away and often seek quantity discounts when buying multiple parcels.

Evaluate Dividing Larger Parcels

If you own a large acreage parcel, assess whether there is an opportunity to divide and split it into smaller, more affordable tracts which will appeal to a wider buyer demographic. Most retail buyers are searching for land on the smaller side between 5-40 acres. Having options with smaller tracts will vastly expand your pool of potential land buyers.

Consider Selling to a Land Investment Company

Instead of listing your rural Elko County land parcel with a traditional real estate agent, another option to consider is selling vacant land directly to a land investment company like Land Boss.

As an established land buyer focused on the Elko County area, Land Boss purchases properties directly from motivated sellers looking for a fast, straightforward cash sale. There are several potential benefits to selling your land to Land Boss rather than on the open market:

  • Cash offers - Land Boss can provide all-cash offers for buy and hold purposes, avoiding financing contingencies.
  • Quick timeline - The sale to Land Boss can close in as little as 7-14 days after agreeing to terms, much faster than selling traditionally.
  • As-is condition - No need to develop or survey land, improvements not required. Land Boss buys as-is.
  • Avoid commissions - No real estate agent commissions or fees to pay by selling directly.
  • No showings - Land Boss can evaluate remotely using aerial imagery, no need for time consuming property showings.
  • Flexible closing date - Closing timeline can be customized to meet your needs.
  • Local expertise - Land Boss focuses specifically on the Elko County area and understands the market intricacies.

If you are considering selling your Elko County land parcel and want to explore a fast, straightforward cash sale option, connecting with the team at Land Boss could potentially provide major advantages over listing on the open market.


Elko County:

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Nevada land for sale:

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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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