Selling Commercial Land in Alaska

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Selling Commercial Land in Alaska

Bart Waldon

As America's largest state spanning over 663,300 square miles, Alaska offers vast swaths of open land rich in natural resources and scenic value. For owners of vacant commercial parcels seeking liquidity, the path to a successful sale requires unique marketing strategies suited to Alaska’s remote geography and volatile real estate investment climate.

Roughly 44 million acres in Alaska rest in private hands based on 2021 data from the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Tapping into development demand from sectors like oil, gas, mining, forestry and tourism enables pricing land to move—provided savvy sellers avoid common missteps.

Average Time on Market Spans ~190 Days

Gaining insight into current real estate trends will enable pricing land appropriately and setting realistic expectations around timeframes. According to 2022 data from the Alaska Multiple Listing Service, average days on market for commercial land parcels sits around 190 days in the Anchorage area.

This aligns with broader U.S. trends showing raw land taking longer to sell than other property types. A recent 2022 report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found vacant residential lots spent an average 145 days on market—over a month longer than existing homes for sale.

Commercial land owners should anticipate and plan for extended sales timelines from six months to over a year. Working with a knowledgeable real estate professional can provide clarity around recent sold data for comparable land parcels in your area—critical for accurately evaluating your land’s worth.

Site Surveys Establish Exact Boundaries

Clearly delineated survey maps, title records, and other property details like deed restrictions or easements will be requested by buyers. Surveys eliminate doubt by mapping precise boundary lines in coordination with local records and markers. Any uncertainties or limitations around land usage must be disclosed upfront.

Retaining official surveys and legal records ensures a transparent sales process. Costs range $3,000-$5,000 on average but deliver the hard data on what land is included. If uncertain boundaries encroach on a neighbor's property, disputes arising during a sale can kill deals fast.

Disclose Zoning Codes and Restrictions

Details like zoning classifications, usage designations, building requirements, noise and view restrictions allow buyers to assess what types of future development are permitted. Local planning agencies can provide codes and ordinances. Disclose upfront whether any variances or permits for proposed projects have been secured yet or still need processing through normal channels.

Transparency around limitations prevents wasted time down the line if a buyer’s plans contradict what current codes or covenants allow on the land. Highlight prime attributes like commercial highway/intersection frontage, visibility to high traffic areas or proximity to necessary infrastructure as bonuses.

Alaska MLS Boasts Over 1,500 Realtors

Selling commercial land yourself through digital or print listing services gives maximum exposure but requires significant effort hosting property viewings and fielding inquiries. The Alaska MLS provides expanded outreach leveraging their network of over 1,500 real estate professionals.

Typical Realtor commissions range 5-10% of the final sale price. While fees impact net returns, seasoned agents can streamline sales coordination and optimize pricing strategy based on currents trends and comparable sales data. Before listing, research 3-5 agents specializing in land sales via local referrals or online reviews.

Property Condition Issues Can Hamper Deals

While remoter locations can suggest pristine settings, inspection reports may reveal problems requiring remedy before buyers commit. Undisclosed pollution, buried waste, flood risks or faulty drainage will make financing difficult and require substantial price reductions to sell the land.

Small investments into professional environmental assessments, drainage fixes, debris removal and basic land clearing demonstrate good faith and enhance marketability. Check Alaska's Contaminated Sites database and obtain Phase 1 inspections to catch problems early. Remediation grants and tax incentives can ease costs long-term.

Advertise Access to Necessary Infrastructure

Promote prime features that enhance property appeal for commercial usage or development including:

  • Existing roadway/highway frontage
  • Visibility to high traffic areas & drive-by traffic counts
  • Electric/power, water and internet connectivity
  • Natural gas pipelines, rail transport access
  • Scenic vistas, waterfront or mountain access

Details like proximity to international airports and deep water seaports for freight also hold strong appeal given Alaska’s global exports. Prominently showcase these in both online and print marketing.

Consider Tiered Pricing for Flexibility

Patience is key when selling Alaska commercial land with pricing often well above actual market rates initially due to owner expectations running high and understanding of real comparables lagging. Appraisals offer reality checks.

Gradually reducing asking prices over months to better align with demand trends and finance-ability sees improved success rates. Rigid overpricing inevitably leads to frustrated sellers pulling listings.

Tiered pricing alternates between an original listing price and incrementally decreased motivated seller prices to indicate pricing flexibility willing to negotiate while keeping the land visible for prospective buyers.

Lean Into Alaska’s Economic Strengths

Alaska's economy showed strong momentum in 2023 after solid 4-5% GDP growth annually since early 2021 based on Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco data. Low unemployment near 5%, higher wages, robust trade activity and a rebound in crude oil and fuel costs to over $100 per barrel suggest positive trends, especially in Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna region.

Promotional messaging that highlights Alaska's enduring natural resources, year-round port accessibility, tourism rebound and infrastructure upgrades makes a compelling case for the state’s expanding development opportunities to lower 48 investors seeking stability, younger demographics and lower operational costs long-term. Emphasize Alaska's strengths.

With the right planning and pricing approach aligned to current real estate realities, selling commercial land parcels can happen smoothly even in The Last Frontier’s remote reaches. Know your goals, understand true market factors and enlist qualified real estate professionals to streamline the closing process. Reach out anytime to discuss your situation directly.

Final Thoughts

Selling commercial land in Alaska's rugged environment certainly poses unique challenges compared to the lower 48 states. However, a methodical approach that sets realistic pricing aligned to market indicators, partners with specialized agents, and conveys property potential through marketing allows land owners to successfully transact sales within typical time frames. Key strategies around optimal listing formats, tiered pricing models, and economic trend awareness demonstrate that vibrant demand for development land does exist across Alaska from major cities like Anchorage to more rural regions. With patience and resilience, sealed deals can reward commercial land holders with lucrative sale terms. Consult experienced real estate professionals to craft the right game plan tailored to your land’s attributes and timeline goals. The opportunities await.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does vacant commercial land take to sell in Alaska? 

On average, 190 days in the Anchorage region, aligning with trends seen across the U.S. Patience is key with land taking longer to sell than existing built properties.

Should I get an official survey of my land completed? 

Yes, official boundary surveys eliminate uncertainty around precisely what land is included. This prevents disputes arising during sale negotiations. Average cost is $3,000-$5,000.

What percentage commission do Realtors charge to sell land? 

Typical Realtor commissions range 5-10% of the final sale price when selling through MLS listing services. Higher visibility comes with fees.

What incentives exist for redeveloping contaminated commercial sites?

Alaska offers tax breaks and remediation grants to offset costs for proper clean-up of polluted sites to encourage returning land to productive use. Checking databases for contamination early is key.

How can pricing strategy impact success selling my land? 

Gradually reducing overpriced land costs to better reflect market realities sees improved outcomes. Tiered pricing indicates flexibility that buyers appreciate when negotiating deals.

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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