Pros and Cons of Selling to a Iowa Land Company

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Pros and Cons of Selling to a Iowa Land Company

Bart Waldon

Iowa is known as the heartland of America, with rolling plains and fertile farmland spanning the state. Agriculture drives much of Iowa's economy and culture, making land itself intrinsically valuable. For Iowans in possession of acreage, deciding whether to sell to a local land company brings up many considerations around timing, pricing, ease of sale, and more. Below we’ll explore the potential benefits and downsides of selling farmland or vacant land to an Iowa-based buyer.

First, some quick background on Iowa real estate. The state has over 30 million acres of farmland alone, making land itself one of Iowa’s most valuable assets. Typical land prices range from $7,000- $9,000 per acre on average for cropland to $2,000 - $4,000 per acre for pastoral or vacant land. However, prices can vary dramatically based on soil quality, location, and other factors. Out-of-state investors have increasingly purchased Iowa farmland over the past decade as well. This external demand can inflate prices beyond what local values would dictate.

Pros of Selling Land to an Iowa Land Company

Selling vacant, pastoral, or even currently-rented farmland to a local land buyer comes with several potential benefits. Below are some of the major pros that Iowa land owners should keep in mind.

Convenience and Speed

The convenience and speed of sale are two of the major reasons people opt to sell to local land companies instead of listing their property on the open market. Listing land to sell independently requires substantial time and effort through each step of the process: Initial pricing and listing --> Marketing to prospective buyers --> Showing the property --> Negotiating offers and terms --> Navigating financing and closings. This full process often takes between 6 months up to 2 years for vacant or pastoral land that may not have clear market comps driving buyer demand.

Meanwhile, selling to an established local land buyer can help shortcut much of this workload and waiting. Land companies have funds available to purchase properties outright, in cash, simplifying the financing complexities. They also have existing infrastructure to quickly value, assess, and close deals on targeted land parcels. For many sellers this speed and convenience enables liquidation at fair prices without the hassles of traditional listing and sales processes.

Guaranteed Purchase Offers

Tied to the above timeline advantages, reputable local land buyers also provide guaranteed offers after assessing targeted land parcels. Whereas listing a property traditionally provides no such guarantee that a buyer at an acceptable price will ever materialize, land companies offer assurances right from initial outreach. Within days or weeks, they can provide formal purchase offers at fair market values, with the cash resources to follow through without financing contingencies. This reliable pathway to sale brings peace of mind for sellers, knowing they will liquidate hard-to-sell land parcels without guessing whether traditional open market listings might ever yield a buyer.

Mitigating Macroeconomic Uncertainty

Raw land sales can face substantial uncertainty in valuation and timing due to macroeconomic conditions beyond seller control. Factors like interest rates, agricultural commodity prices, investor demand, inflation/recession risks, trade policy, and more can all impact the viability of land sales on the open market - in unpredictable timeframes. With a local buyer guaranteeing purchase offers at fair prices under current conditions, sellers can move forward without worrying whether outside variables like shifting Fed policy might upend a future traditional sale. By selling to an established land purchaser outright, macroeconomic uncertainty gets mitigated compared to waiting indefinitely for the right buyer under the right conditions.

Expert Valuations and "As-Is" Purchase Offers

Reputable local land buyers also provide expert valuation and guaranteed purchase offers on land parcels in "as-is" condition. Whereas selling traditionally might require substantial upfront investment to clear land titles, resolve lien issues, improve site access, remedy environmental conditions, or otherwise ready a property for viable listing, land companies accept most distressed or unimproved land as-is. This saves sellers major financial outlays and headaches trying to prepare land for sale under traditional avenues. Backed by expert knowledge of local market values and with funds to facilitate deals in current property state and title status, land buyers enable smoother transactions without demanding perfect site conditions beforehand.

Cons of Selling Land to an Iowa Land Company

Of course, encountering a reputable buyer is key - and providing discounted pricing is central to many land companies' business models. While guaranteeing favorable sale terms and convenience compared to traditional listing approaches, selling to a local land purchaser also comes with downsides to consider.

Discounted Sale Pricing

The chief tradeoff in selling land to a local buyer is discounted pricing compared to potential open market value. Most land companies build in certain profit margins, or seek out below-market "value buys" in the first place, when making outright purchase offers. The percentage discount can vary based on factors like:

  • General parcel desirability and ease of sells
  • Immediacy of seller need to liquidate
  • Title clearance difficulties and lien issues
  • Site accessibility constraints or improvement costs
  • Local market conditions and comps
  • Brokerage / listing fees saved through direct sale

In simple terms though, land owners will usually surrender some percentage of potential sale proceeds in exchange for the speed, certainty, and convenience described earlier. For properties likely to sell within 6-12 months anyway, this discount may amount to 10-20% under a smooth sales process. But for rural land or complex cases that could take years to liquidate traditionally, guaranteed sale discounts might exceed 50% or more compared to the theoretical open market price years down the road. Sellers need to carefully run the numbers to assess whether leaving profits on the table with a local land buyer works in light of their personal timelines and risk tolerance.

Limited Negotiation Opportunities

Tied to the above discount tradeoffs, reputable land buyers also limit back-and-forth negotiation compared to traditional sales processes. Whereas listing a property opens up conversations around timing contingencies, closing terms, title insurance, inspection demands, and other complexities, most established land companies use standardized offers with fewer variables in play. Sellers forfeit some control over tailoring deals to their needs in favor of simplified sale terms and certainty of closure. So those hoping to carefully negotiate specialized closing provisions, creative payment structures, title insurance protections, etc may find local buyer offers do not meet their needs.

Forfeiting Potential Appreciation Upside

Raw land prices move in cycles like other real estate assets, so sellers who liquidate properties immediately also forfeit any appreciation upside down the road. Iowa farmland values in particular have shown strong resilience and upward trajectory over the decades. Those needing immediate liquidity may view guaranteed land buyer sale prices as fair given today's market conditions. But patient sellers able to wait out broader economic shifts could leave substantial money on the table selling now rather than 2-5 years later as underlying land values continue rising over longer time horizons. This is an especially important consideration given that traditional land listings enable riding out short-to medium-term dips until market-optimal sale timing.

When considered comprehensively, selling raw Iowa land or pastoral acreage to an established local buyer brings simplicity, speed, and assurance compared to traditional sales methods - typically in exchange for accepting a discounted yet still fair purchase price. The 20-50% or more discounts these companies might build in could feasibly align with brokerage fees, title/closing costs, and price fluctuations sellers would encounter anyway trying to liquidate such properties independently. Each land owner's needs to balance these pros and cons varies. But for many, direct sale to reputable land buyers in Iowa and elsewhere brings much needed liquidity despite sacrificing some potential sale proceeds in the process. With this overview of the tradeoffs involved, land holders considering such a move can make decisions from a more informed starting point.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much less than market value will an Iowa land company typically offer for my property?

Most Iowa land companies aim to purchase properties at a 20-50% discount compared to the theoretical open retail market price. The exact discount will depend on factors like property condition, title status, access constraints and more. Better quality land parcels in turnkey shape might sell for 10-20% under open market comps. More distressed properties could net 50% under or more compared to longer-term optimized theoretical value.

Will an Iowa land purchaser let me lease back the property after sale?

Some, but not all Iowa land buyers offer lease-back provisions allowing sellers to still utilize the land for a fixed period post-sale, prior to the buyer taking full possession. Typical lease-back periods range 1-5 years. This enables those not yet ready to fully relinquish land usage, for farming or other purposes, to still capitalize on guaranteed sale terms when needing immediate liquidity.

What taxes or sale fees do I need to pay when selling land?

As with most property sales, expect to pay closing costs and recording fees upon selling land to an Iowa buyer. Transfer taxes and title insurance costs may apply as well depending on sale terms. Most reputable land purchasers cover these ancillary transfer expenses directly to streamline closing processes for sellers. But tax implications from any capital gains still belong to the seller. Consult the buyer’s offer terms and discuss details with your accountant.

How long does the land sale process take with a local company?

Expect a complete land sale process in 30-90 days on average when selling to a reputable local land purchaser in Iowa. Quicker sales under 30 days are common for simpler transactions without notable title issues or access challenges. More complex cases with obstacles to resolve could approach 90 days or longer to finalize transfer of deed and full payment. The streamlined process still far outpaces 6 months to 2+ years that vacant land might require to sell traditionally.

Can I negotiate better land sale terms beyond the initial purchase offer?

Limited negotiation opportunities are one tradeoff when opting to sell land to a local buyer instead of listing the open market. Where possible though, companies may entertain counteroffers within reasonable proximity to their initial valuation and terms if special seller circumstances apply. Topics like closing dates, payment terms, early possession requests, or lease-backs may have modest flexibility too. But core pricing likely won’t shift dramatically above original offers.

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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