How to Sell Your Iowa Land Without a Realtor

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How to Sell Your Iowa Land Without a Realtor

Bart Waldon

Iowa is known as the "Food Capital of the World" thanks to its rich agricultural land that spans over 30 million acres across the state. As the top producer of corn and soybeans in the U.S., much of Iowa's landscape is dotted with fertile farmland. If you have recently inherited or purchased vacant land in Iowa, you may be wondering what steps to take if you want to sell it without a real estate agent. Selling land on your own can seem daunting, but it is possible with the right preparation and marketing techniques.

Overview of the Iowa Land Market

Before diving into the process of selling your Iowa land yourself, it’s important to understand the market. Farmland prices in Iowa set new record highs in 2021, reaching an average of $9,751 per acre according to Iowa State University. However, supply-chain disruptions, rising interest rates, and broader economic uncertainty led to a cooldown towards the end of 2022. As we enter 2024, it's expected that the ag land market will continue stabilizing.

That said, market demand remains relatively strong especially for high quality parcels. There also continues to be interest from investors and land buying companies. With personalized and targeted marketing, sellers can still get fair prices although bargaining is more common in the current market compared to the bidding frenzies of 2020-2021.

Getting Your Land Sale-Ready

If you've decided to forgo hiring a realtor and want the best shot at selling your Iowa land yourself, the most critical first step is preparing your vacant property to show well so it appeals to potential buyers. Here's what you need to do:

  • Conduct surveys - Before listing your land, obtain an official survey conducted by a licensed surveyor. This legally verifies the boundaries and acreage.
  • Get soil tests - Soil analysis reports detail the quality, composition, and productivity potential of your land. Quality soil boosts value dramatically.
  • Inspect property – Walk the property yourself looking for any issues like erosion, flood risks, or structural damages that could impact price.
  • Clear out any junk – Remove debris, equipment or hazardous materials that could deter buyers. Tidy up vegetation.
  • Confirm zoning – Verify with your county that the land is zoned properly if a buyer wanted to develop it.

Once you’ve confirmed your Iowa property is in good order, you can move forward with putting it on the market!

Pricing Your Iowa Land

One of the most challenging aspects of a FSBO (for sale by owner) land sale is determining an appropriate asking price. Pricing too high can deter potential buyers, while going too low leaves money on the table.

A good starting point is researching the sale prices of comparable vacant land parcels that sold recently within a 3-5 mile radius through public records. Look at attributes like acreage, road access, terrain, and soil quality. Adjust your price higher or lower based on how your land compares.

Online land valuation tools like LandWatch can also provide estimates. Or you can hire an appraiser to assess your property's market value, starting around $350-$500 for a basic appraisal. Just keep in mind that comes out of your eventual proceeds so aim to price competitively from the start.

In today's Iowa land market, be prepared that you may not get full asking price. Buyers expect more bargaining room on FSBO listings. Build in some buffer so you can negotiate on price but still walk away satisfied.

Marketing Your Land

To generate interest and potential offers, the next imperative step is spreading the word that your Iowa property is for sale. With a realtor’s existing client base and MLS access, they automatically have wider reach. Without those channels, FSBO sellers have to take more initiative with advertising and networking.

The best places to list your Iowa farmland, pasture, or other vacant acreage include:

  • Land listing sites – Top options for maximum online exposure are Lands of America, LandWatch, and Land And Farm.
  • Local publications – Place classifieds in county newspapers and real estate books advertising your land listing.
  • Signage – Installing visible "For Sale by Owner" signs on the property alerts those passing by.
  • Word-of-mouth – Spread the word about your vacant land for sale to everyone in your network both in-person and via social media.
  • Direct outreach – Identify and contact potential buyers in the area like neighboring farmers, investors, or developers.

Casting a wide net through both digital and print channels gives you the best shot at reaching interested buyers. The more eyes on your Iowa property listing, the greater your chances of garnering offers!

Showing Your Land

A key difference from listing with an agent is that FSBO sellers have to personally accommodate land showings. As interest comes in, you’ll need to schedule site visits with potential buyers to view and walk the property lines.

To make showings easy, efficient, and safe:

  • Accompany buyers on property – Don’t hand over lockbox codes or leave visitors unsupervised.
  • Bring survey maps & info – Have all important details handy to point out.
  • Mark boundaries clearly – Use flags or stakes so buyers understand exact acreage.
  • Set policies – Require scheduled appointments and determine if you’ll accept any purchase offers made on-site.
  • Follow precautions – Require signed release waivers and watch for hazards if accessing remote areas.

By handling land showings professionally and prepared, you’ll be better positioned to close a deal.

Negotiating With Potential Buyers

Once you start getting inquiries from interested vacant land buyers, another key skill is negotiating offers effectively without a real estate agent acting as proxy.

Some key tips for FSBO sellers during the offer and acceptance process:

  • Provide disclosures – Draft purchase agreements to outline all known property conditions, easements, restrictions, etc.
  • Stay firm but flexible – Stick close to asking price but build in some wiggle room for counteroffers.
  • Ask about financing – Verify buyers are qualified and have lending or cash to close deals.
  • Set timeframes – Determine reasonable deadlines for due diligence, closing dates, payment schedules.
  • Require deposits – Even if negotiating, requiring 5-10% earnest money deposits ensures serious buyers.
  • Consult pros if needed – Seek legal or financial advice to review offers if you hit snags.

While it takes more work on your end, negotiating your own land sale without an agent to mediate can help you maximize sale proceeds.

Closing the Deal

Once terms have been agreed upon, you’ve secured a purchase offer, and the buyer has completed due diligence inspections, you can move towards closing. The buyer will request an updated abstract showing the title history report to confirm ownership. This is provided by your county recorder's office.

Final steps in the transaction include:

  • Passing of deed – Sign over the land title to convey ownership to the buyer. This recorded transfer deed serves as the official bill of sale.
  • Payment collection – Once land title transfers, you receive payment per your negotiated agreement.
  • Tax implications – You will need to pay capital gains taxes on land sales so factor that into net proceeds.

A real estate attorney can handle closing details and paperwork for around $500-$1,500 in legal fees. After which congratulations - you’ve now successfully sold your Iowa land all on your own without relying on a realtor!

Work With a Cash Land Buyer for a Simplified Sale

While the FSBO route has benefits like greater net profit, more control, and no agent commissions, the process also involves substantial effort especially as an out-of-state or first-time land seller. Marketing nationally, vetting buyers, and navigating negotiations takes time and local market savvy.

An alternative option to consider that simplifies the land liquidation process is selling directly to a cash land buying company like Land Boss based in Iowa. For over 5 years, Land Boss has specialized in purchasing rural land throughout Iowa. Sellers can contact Land Boss’ acquisition managers to receive a no-obligation cash offer backed by the company’s own funds within days. It’s as simple as stating you have land for sale when you call or filling out the property information through their website land submission form.

Land Boss and other reputable land buyers aim to pay fair market value based on comparable land sales data and current conditions. While offers may come in below full retail listing prices, their all-cash convenience closes quickly with no hassles compared to traditional MLS sales. As experienced farmland buyers, companies like Land Boss handle all title conveyance and pay settlement fees too. So, if you've inherited or purchased land you’re seeking to offload swiftly, exploring a direct cash sale can provide peace of mind.

Final Thoughts

Selling vacant land without a realtor is entirely possible in Iowa if you prepare your property correctly, utilize various marketing channels to find buyers, and learn how to negotiate offers skillfully. Although agent-assisted sales provide more visibility through MLS and access to buyer networks, for sale by owner listings give you greater control over the transaction while saving thousands in commissions. Alternatively, cash buyers like Land Boss take the effort out of the equation by providing guaranteed offers, handling all paperwork, and closing sales rapidly. Weigh the benefits of each route to decide the best option that aligns with your land ownership goals, priorities and timeframe in Iowa’s farmland market.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are closing costs for selling farmland as a FSBO?

Closing fees for Iowa land sales average $500-$1,500. This covers title searches, deed preparation and transfer filings. Buyers typically pay their own lending costs.

Should I require a purchase deposit when negotiating a land offer?

Requiring 5-10% earnest money deposits ensures serious buyers with financing ability and helps remove contingency offers.

How can I estimate the capital gains tax amount from my land sale?

Capital gains taxes on land sales depend on your tax bracket but estimate approx. 15% of the net profit you receive over your basis to budget for this.

Is my inherited farmland worth more than purchased land?

Inherited farmland can be more valuable due to tax advantages it holds including a stepped-up cost basis at current FMV potentially minimizing capital gains taxes.

What steps should I take to terminate a land contract as a FSBO seller? 

Consult an attorney to legally terminate agreements following proper protocols. Return any deposits, notify buyers, file paperwork to dissolve contracts.

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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