How to Sell Land by Owner in Pennsylvania?

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How to Sell Land by Owner in Pennsylvania?

Bart Waldon

Let's face it - selling land isn't like selling a house. There's no fresh-baked cookie smell to lure in buyers, no staged living rooms to help them envision their future. But don't worry, fellow Pennsylvanians. Whether you're parting with a slice of Lancaster farmland or a wooded lot in the Poconos, this guide will help you navigate the sometimes tricky waters of selling land on your own.

The Lay of the Land: Pennsylvania's Property Market

Before we dive in, let's get our bearings. Pennsylvania's a big state with a diverse landscape, and that means a varied land market. Did you know that as of 2021, we had about 7.3 million acres of farmland spread across 52,700 farms? That's according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. They also tell us the average farm size was 139 acres, with land and buildings valued at around $3,850 per acre.

But it's not all about farms. From Philly's bustling suburbs to Pittsburgh's urban parcels, and from the serene Pocono Mountains to the rolling hills of Amish country, each region has its own flavor when it comes to land sales.

First Things First: Know What You've Got

Before you even think about putting up that "For Sale" sign, you need to know exactly what you're selling. Here's your to-do list:

  1. Get your boundaries straight: Nothing kills a deal faster than boundary disputes. If you're not 100% sure where your land begins and ends, it might be time to call in a surveyor.
  2. List your land's greatest hits: Got a babbling brook? An old barn with character? Make a list of all the cool features your land has to offer.
  3. Figure out access: Can buyers easily get to your property, or will they need to bushwhack through the neighbor's field? This stuff matters.
  4. Check the rulebook: Zoning laws can make or break a land deal. Make sure you know what your land can (and can't) be used for.

Paperwork: Not Sexy, But Necessary

Paperwork is about as exciting as watching paint dry. But trust me, having your ducks in a row will make your life a whole lot easier. Here's what you need to gather:

  • Deed and title info
  • Property tax records
  • Any surveys or maps you have
  • Environmental assessments (if you've got 'em)
  • Utility information
  • Existing leases or agreements

Having this stuff ready to go will save you headaches down the road, and it'll make you look like a pro to potential buyers.

The Million Dollar Question: What's It Worth?

Here's where things get tricky. Pricing land isn't like pricing a house - there's no simple square footage calculation. The land market can be as unpredictable as Pennsylvania weather. Here are a few ways to get a ballpark figure:

  1. Play detective: Look up recent sales of similar properties in your area.
  2. Call in the pros: A land appraiser can give you a solid estimate.
  3. Pick a realtor's brain: Even if you're selling on your own, many agents are happy to share their expertise.
  4. Online tools: They're not perfect, but they can give you a starting point.

Just remember, overpricing your land is like trying to sell Eagles tickets to a Steelers fan - it's probably not going to happen. But underpricing means leaving money on the table. It's a balancing act.

Getting the Word Out: Marketing Your Land

Now comes the fun part - letting the world know about your awesome piece of Pennsylvania. Here's how to spread the word:

  1. Know your audience: Are you selling to farmers, developers, or folks looking for a weekend getaway? Tailor your approach accordingly.
  2. Show it off: Good photos are worth their weight in gold. And if you can get some drone footage? Even better.
  3. Go digital: List your property on popular real estate websites and land-specific platforms. Don't forget about social media - Facebook Marketplace can be surprisingly effective for land sales.
  4. Old school still works: Local newspapers, community bulletin boards, and good old-fashioned word of mouth can still drum up interest.

Crafting a Killer Listing

Your listing is like your land's resume - it needs to make a great first impression. Here's what to include:

  • Location (with directions for us directionally challenged folks)
  • Size and shape of the property
  • Any cool features (that babbling brook we mentioned earlier? Highlight it!)
  • Zoning info and potential uses
  • Nearby attractions (Is it close to state parks? Great schools? The world's biggest ball of twine?)
  • Your asking price and terms
  • Plenty of photos
  • Your contact info

And remember, honesty is the best policy. If there are any drawbacks to your property, it's better to be upfront about them. Nobody likes surprises when it comes to real estate.

Showing Your Land: It's Showtime!

When potential buyers come knocking, be ready to give them the grand tour. Here are some tips:

  1. Be prepared: Have a packet of info ready for buyers, including all those documents you gathered earlier.
  2. Mark your territory: Use flags or markers to show property lines clearly.
  3. Clear the way: Make sure buyers can easily access the property. You don't want them getting lost in the woods (unless that's part of the charm).
  4. Highlight the good stuff: Point out those features that make your land special.
  5. Be honest: Answer questions truthfully. If you don't know something, say so.

Let's Make a Deal: Negotiating and Closing

When offers start rolling in, take a deep breath and consider:

  • The purchase price (obviously)
  • Any contingencies (like financing or inspections)
  • The proposed closing date
  • Any special requests

Don't be afraid to counteroffer - negotiation is part of the game. And remember, cash isn't always king. Sometimes a lower cash offer can be better than a higher financed offer that might fall through.

Dotting the I's and Crossing the T's

Once you've accepted an offer, you're in the home stretch. But there's still work to do:

  1. Title search and insurance: Make sure your title is clear and get it insured.
  2. Survey: You might need a new one, depending on when the last one was done.
  3. Environmental checks: Address any concerns or requirements.
  4. Paperwork: Work with a real estate attorney to get all your documents in order.
  5. Closing day: Sign on the dotted line and hand over the keys (or in this case, the deed).

Know the Rules

Pennsylvania has its own set of laws when it comes to land sales. It's worth familiarizing yourself with:

  • Disclosure requirements
  • Contract laws
  • Property rights and restrictions
  • Environmental regulations

When in doubt, consult with a real estate attorney. It's better to be safe than sorry.

The Tax Man Cometh

Selling land can have significant tax implications. Keep in mind:

  • Capital gains taxes
  • Property tax prorations
  • Potential deductions
  • 1031 exchanges (if you're an investor)

It's a good idea to chat with a tax pro to understand how the sale will affect your taxes.

Plan B: Other Ways to Sell

If all this sounds like more than you bargained for, don't worry. You've got options:

  1. Team up with a real estate agent: Yes, you'll pay a commission, but you'll also get expertise and support throughout the process.
  2. Sell to a land buying company: Companies like Land Boss specialize in buying land. You might not get top dollar, but you'll get a quick, easy sale.

Final Thoughts

Selling land by owner in Pennsylvania isn't always a walk in the park, but it can be done. With some patience, persistence, and a little bit of Keystone State grit, you can successfully navigate the process.

Remember, the land market can be as unpredictable as a Philly sports fan. It might take some time to find the right buyer. But whether you're selling a chunk of Chester County farmland or a buildable lot in Scranton, understanding your property and your local market is key to success.

So roll up your sleeves, Pennsylvanians. With this guide in hand, you're ready to tackle selling your land like a pro. Who knows? You might even have some fun along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long's it going to take to sell my land in PA?

Selling land can be a waiting game. Unlike houses that might fly off the market in days, land often sits around a bit longer. You could be in for anything from a few months to a couple of years. I know, not what you wanted to hear, right?

But here's the deal: every piece of land is its own beast. Got a prime spot near Philly? You might get lucky and sell quick. Sitting on some remote acres in the boonies? Might take a while to find the right buyer.

Just remember, pricing it right and getting the word out there are key. And hey, sometimes patience pays off.

Do I really need a lawyer for this?

Technically? Nah. Legally, you can sell your land without a suit looking over your shoulder. But should you? That's a whole other can of worms.

Here's my two cents: unless you're a real estate pro or have a law degree gathering dust somewhere, getting a lawyer is probably a smart move. Think of it like wearing a seatbelt - you hope you won't need it, but you're sure glad it's there if things go sideways.

A good attorney can spot potential issues before they become real headaches. They'll make sure all your paperwork is ironclad and you're not accidentally stepping into any legal sinkholes. Yeah, it'll cost you a bit upfront, but it could save you a ton of grief (and money) down the line.

How do I figure out if there are any restrictions on the land?

Start with your deed. Sometimes restrictions are spelled out right there in black and white. No luck? Time to put on your detective hat and head down to the local zoning office. They'll be able to tell you how your land is zoned and what that means in plain English.

But wait, there's more! You'll want to check for easements. These are basically permission slips for other people to use part of your land for things like accessing power lines or getting to a shared road.

If your land's in a fancy planned community, there might be a whole other set of rules to deal with. And if you're near any wetlands or in a historic area? That's a whole other ball game.

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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