How to Sell Your Utah Land Without a Realtor

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How to Sell Your Utah Land Without a Realtor
By

Bart Waldon

Utah is a picturesque state situated in the Western U.S. that's coveted for its striking red rock vistas, Wasatch mountain range, an array of outdoor recreational offerings, and proximity to world-class ski resorts. With high rates of in-migration from faster paced coastal states, real estate across Utah is in high demand. And vacant land plots in particular are attracting interest from buyers looking to build homes, farm, raise animals, and enjoy Utah’s natural splendors.

However, attempting to sell your Utah land without an agent facilitating the transaction every step of the way can seem daunting for first-time land sellers. That said, with the right diligence around pricing, marketing, screening buyers, handling purchase agreements, and navigating closing, going the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) route can be done smoothly while avoiding thousands in realtor commissions.

This comprehensive guide covers start-to-finish best practices for those selling Utah land themselves, providing actionable steps to achieve success.

Understanding the Local Land Market in Utah

While the Utah real estate market on the whole has seen steady appreciation over the past decade thanks to a thriving economy and rapid migration, performance can vary drastically submarket to submarket based on area development, infrastructure, recreational offerings, and more.

For example, high-demand recreational land near Park City Mountain Resort or next door to bustling Salt Lake City will trade at a tremendous premium to rural acreage in a sparse desert region. Factors like access to municipal water and power, proximity to highways and towns, allowable use for livestock or leisure activities, and potential parcel constraints posed by terrain, easements, or zoning can also drastically swing pricing on a piece of land in either direction as well.

This is why performing diligent comps research around recent sales of similar land plots in close proximity is crucial to accurately valuing and competitively pricing your acreage versus making the mistake of extrapolating off a broad statewide benchmark. Checking county records to determine what nearby vacant land has recently sold for to similar buyers on a price per acre basis provides the most relevant baseline versus online estimates.

And when preparing to sell in the current market, also consider Utah’s stellar track record around avoiding major boom and bust cycles along with economic tailwinds that point to continued population growth and real estate appreciation in communities ranging from St. George to Ogden for the foreseeable future barring any unforeseen shifts in migration patterns or housing construction. This implies healthy demand from buyers seeking land for years to come.

Key Pros and Cons of Selling FSBO to Consider

Deciding whether to enlist a real estate pro or go the FSBO route when selling land basically comes down to weighing where one’s skills, resources, and priorities lie as a seller along with the unique aspects of the property itself. Below we break out some of the major pros and cons associated with land owners selling their acreage themselves without an agent's facilitation.

Benefits of selling your land FSBO include:

  • Avoiding commissions that can easily total 5% to 6% of sale price
  • Maintaining control and flexibility over pricing strategy and deal terms
  • Potential for direct buyer negotiation to achieve full asking price
  • Keeping all sale proceeds without sharing profits with an agent
  • Often faster sales velocity without agent scheduling lags

Downsides of FSBO land sales to be aware of:

  • Handling all buyer communications and paperwork yourself
  • Less experienced comparable sale pricing analysis
  • Limited exposure beyond DIY promotion venues
  • Vetting buyers and ensuring ethical standards alone
  • Increased risk of missing required legal filings

On balance, those comfortable wearing many hats can often maximize profits by selling their land themselves. But sellers who prefer turning key tasks over to professionals may still finish ahead even after commissions if it means ultimately selling at a meaningfully higher price point.

Much comes down to your competencies around land valuation, marketing, buyer screening, negotiating, legal considerations, and willingness to spend additional time handling a sale solo. As we’ll explore in the sections below, having systems and resources in place to get each step right is key to FSBO success.

Preparing to Offer an Appealing, Sale-Ready Property

Whether enlisting an agent or selling your acreage yourself, taking time upfront to thoroughly prepare your land for sale can pay major dividends. Buyers are willing to pay top dollar for turnkey parcels versus those needing extensive work, so enhancing marketability ahead of listing should be priority number one.

Steps to prep land for maximum resale appeal include:

Confirming or Resolving Any Title Issues

Research recorded easements, boundary discrepancies, liens, pending litigation or back taxes tied to the land, and resolve any outstanding title issues beforehand, providing buyers clear title.

Surveying and Marking Current Boundaries

Officially surveying the land if needed using boundary markers, fencing, or signage ensures buyers know exactly what acreage their purchase includes (and doesn’t include).

Removing Any Personal Property

Detach or demolish unwanted structures, vehicles, waste piles, oil tanks, etc. that buyers shouldn’t have to deal with. The land should convey free of debris needing clearance post sale.

Gathering All Documentation

Compile permits, appraisals, certifications, title history, tax and plot IDs, CC&Rs, disclosures, etc. to share with potential buyers ahead of purchase.

Covering these bases makes your acreage more marketable in addition supporting an accurate valuation and smooth ownership transfer down the line during closing.

Pricing Guidance to Maximize Sale Proceeds

Arriving at an optimal asking price that attracts eager buyers while still achieving top sale proceeds is more art than science when selling land. And hands down the biggest pricing mistake sellers make is simply guessing at numbers versus digging into recent land comps.

While online land estimators and valuation models do exist, these should only serve as very baseline starting figures. Here is a systematic approach to arrive at a competitive - and ideally profitable - list price:

Line Up 3 to 5 Recent Nearby Land Sales

Dig up county records for prior land transactions of similar acreage within a few miles of your parcel over the past 6 to 12 months. Focus on vacant land sales in similar terrain without any major improvements influencing price.

Compare on a Price Per Acre Basis

For an apples-to-apples gauge, consider what nearby plots have sold for on a dollar per acre basis rather than just the total sale price alone. This normalizes for the natural variation in parcel sizes.

Factor in Key Variables Impacting Value

Consider comparative strengths and weaknesses around utility access, road frontage, development potential, views, usage rights, parcel shape, etc. relative to the recent local land comps. These attributes sway pricing significantly.

Pad List Price Above Recent Comps

Set your asking price a reasonable margin above the upper end of recent per acre land sales figures to leave room for buyer negotiations. You can always reduce later if needed.

Also realize that initial offers often come in below list prices on land dealings. Building in pad anticipating moderate price concessions is wise while still aligning with local market comps.

And lastly, be aware that the spread between average market comps and the highest recent outlier sales can be vast. So, resisting the temptation to extrapolate off a single $100k acre plot in a sea of $10k ones takes objectivity. But no one ever left money on the table by starting high!

Marketing Techniques to Maximize Visibility

With pricing set to attract qualified buyers, dedicating equal energy toward marketing the land for sale far and wide becomes vital.

A multifaceted promotion strategy spanning traditional venues and modern outlets will give an FSBO listing the greatest chance of connecting with eager buyers in today’s market.

Here are the best outlets for gaining maximum exposure:

Print Media Listings

Taking out classifieds in local newspapers and installing visual on-property signage targets prospective buyers actively perusing listings in the immediate area.

Facebook and NextDoor

Posting online in hyperlocal community groups and forums taps into your closest nucleus of friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances most likely to share listings further by word of mouth.

MLS-Style Landing Pages

Build out dedicated pages on FSBO platforms like ForSaleByOwner.com tailored specifically to land sales rather than home listings. These showcase all the parcel details, maps, images, disclosures, etc. that agents would traditionally list in the MLS.

Marketplace and Classified Sites

Expand reach by creating listings on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Zillow, Lands of America, Landwatch, Land and Farm, etc. where buyers proactively search by region for acreage for sale.

Checking search result visibility and fine-tuning listings based on page rankings and metrics helps maximize impressions. And directing interested inquiries to the MLS-style landing pages with comprehensive documentation builds credibility.

This diversified self-marketing approach best positions an FSBO land deal to identify qualified buyers ready to make compelling offers.

Screening Buyers and Negotiating Optimally

When self represented, the onus falls heavily on the seller to objectively vet buyer motivations, competencies, and risk factors - not just the initial offer price alone. And with skin in the game, avoiding missteps negotiating toward a smoothly executed sale is equally crucial.

Qualifying Buyers Upfront

  • Verify funding is in place to close and intent to build/develop vs speculative investing
  • Have buyers detail plans for land use and estimated budget for improvements
  • Request credit checks/financials, employment details, references as applicable

Enforcing Standards During Showings

  • Accompany buyers on property walkthroughs to oversee directly
  • Have guests sign liability waiver protecting the seller from injury claims
  • Share prints outs with all property details to set right expectations

Negotiating Optimally Toward a Clean Deal

  • Compare offer details beyond just purchase price like contingencies, closing dates, release of liability by buyer, etc.
  • Counter higher if adequate buyer funding allows more room vs settling too quickly
  • Involve a real estate attorney before accepting complex terms or conditional contracts

Staying impartial when dealing directly with prospects paves the way for win-win agreements with satisfied parties on both sides. And a neutral third party can advise around red flags to avoid when seller emotions get invested.

Navigating Closing Like a Pro

The final step toward a smooth transaction involves navigating the closing process professionally to formally transfer ownership. Below are best practices sellers should follow to tie up loose ends:

Finalizing All Legal Documentation

  • Have an attorney double check unique land sale paperwork before signing off
  • Receive final version of title conveyance deed transferring ownership

Preparing for Closing Day Meeting

  • Select a title company or escrow office to host closing
  • Gather funds owed like transfer taxes and final escrow installment
  • Review closing disclosure paperwork itemizing all transaction fees

Executing Deed & Payment Transfer

  • Sign all remaining contracts & deeds in front of title company rep
  • Final funds are released from escrow immediately upon closing
  • Title company files conveyance deed declaring buyer as new owner

Closing formally completes sale when all legal loose ends are tied up! Going in fully prepared having engaged legal guidance makes the process seamless.

Key Takeaways - Selling DIY Can Reap Major Rewards

While attempting to sell land sans a real estate agent presents added effort and responsibility, the financial upside from keeping thousands in commissions and the control over deal terms make it best route for many sellers able and willing to learn the process.

Those who approach key steps like pricing, marketing, buyer vetting, negotiating, and closing adhering to best practices reap the greatest rewards going the FSBO route. So, lean on the comprehensive advice in this guide to confidently check all the boxes on your land sale.

And never be shy about seeking guidance from seasoned land investors in the local area who have been through the FSBO process successfully before if encounter snags or questions along the journey!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a real estate attorney when selling land on my own?

While not legally required, engaging a real estate attorney to review documents and provide guidance during the transaction is highly recommended when FSBO. They can catch things a layperson might miss and advise around legal aspects. Many attorneys offer flat rate services to just once over the transaction.

What taxes and fees should I budget for when selling land?

Beyond federal/state capital gains taxes on profits, budget for local transfer taxes, title change fees, municipal lien clearance costs, overnight shipping charges, attorney fees, rounding gaps, and misc closing costs that can add up. Leave padding.

What information should I gather to share with prospective land buyers?

Compile property plot maps, survey boundaries, title history, tax details, lien certificates showing a clear title, disclosure forms, HOA or easement info, development/zoning restrictions, photos, plus utilities and access details. Offering transparent info upfront builds trust.

What steps can I take to qualify and vet potential land buyers?

Ask for proof of funds, lender pre-approvals, development plans for the land, intended use, info on ability to cover taxes/insurance, possible contingent sale details, motivation for buying, proof of identity, and even character references where applicable. Screen thoroughly.

Should I price my land above recent sales of similar nearby plots?

Yes, you should factor in room for negotiation below asking price when deciding on a list price. Look at the upper end of recent local land comp sales and tack on a 5-10% premium. Slowly retreat toward actual market value during buyer negotiations if needed.

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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