Pros and Cons of Selling to a Pennsylvania Land Company

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Pros and Cons of Selling to a Pennsylvania Land Company
By

Bart Waldon

Nestled within America's northeastern corridor, Pennsylvania offers immense diversity across its expansive landscape. From the rolling crests of the Appalachian Mountains to the fertile valleys of the Susquehanna River basin, the state harbors endless beauty. For owners of undeveloped tracts of land in Pennsylvania, the decision of whether to sell can be an intricate one riddled with complexity. Myriad factors demand deliberation when determining the most prudent move. One potential path is liquidating to an area land company, which has both benefits and drawbacks worth close examination and weighing. Ultimately, the course forward depends greatly on each landholder’s specific circumstances and objectives in either retaining or releasing their real estate assets.

Overview of Pennsylvania

Since its founding by the Englishman William Penn as a sanctuary for persecuted Quakers in 1681 per a charter from King Charles II, Pennsylvania has played a pivotal role in American history as one of the original thirteen colonies. Today it remains a influential state, ranking 33rd in total size at over 44,800 square miles and 6th in population with roughly 13 million residents.

Its major metropolitan centers include the southeastern hub of Philadelphia and southwestern hub of Pittsburgh. Beyond its rich history, Pennsylvania is also defined by its diverse and beautiful geography. It encompasses the ridges and peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, the rolling hills and lush valleys of the countryside, and abundant forests, farms and waterways including the Susquehanna, Allegheny, Ohio and Delaware Rivers. Approximately 59 percent of its total area is blanketed in forest. 

Agriculture has long been an economic driver, producing substantial yields of dairy, poultry, cattle and crops such as corn, soybeans and various fruits. Other vital industries include manufacturing, healthcare and education. Tourism brings in billions of dollars annually as visitors flock to experience Pennsylvania's unique blend of history, culture and natural splendor.

Benefits of Selling to a Land Company

For landowners considering whether to sell their undeveloped land in Pennsylvania, selling to a local land company has some potential advantages.

  1. Fast and Seamless Sales Process

Perhaps the greatest allure of selling to a land company rather than listing independently is the streamlined speed and simplicity of the process. Land companies have cash reserves on hand to make prompt, competitive all-cash offers and can finalize transactions quickly, sparing sellers the time-consuming hassle of finding and vetting qualified buyers themselves.

  1. Escape the Burdens of Listing and Marketing

Land companies use their own sophisticated resources and outreach networks to identify and connect with motivated sellers, eliminating the need to personally stage, show or negotiate offers. The company's real estate team handles all the heavy lifting of marketing and promotion.

  1. Buyers Undeterred by As-Is Condition

Unlike finicky retail buyers, land companies are undeterred by properties requiring cleanup or prep work, offering flexibility and convenience. They readily buy sites in as-is condition, taking on any remediation costs themselves and saving sellers hefty expenses.

  1. Pocket More Proceeds, Sans Commissions

Without real estate agents as middlemen, sellers avoid paying lofty 5-6% commissions on the sale price. Direct-to-buyer transactions also sidestep closing costs and fees, allowing sellers to retain more sale proceeds.

  1. Walk Away Freely Post-Closing

Land companies don't bog down sales with restrictive deed contingencies or ongoing obligations. The transaction simply closes, leaving sellers free of all ties and duties to the land. Sales to end-users sometimes include limitations on development plans and repurchase stipulations.

Potential Downsides of Selling to a Land Company

However, there are some potential downsides that landowners also need to consider when deciding whether to sell to a land company.

  1. Below Market Value Offer

The trade-off for speed and convenience when selling to a land company is often accepting a lower sales price than listing on the open market. Land companies need to buy properties at a discount so they can turn around and still make a profit reselling the land. Many make “low ball” offers significantly below full market value.

  1. Unknown Future Plans

By selling to a land company, the long-term plans for the land become unknown. Whereas selling to an end-user at least provides insight into how the property will be used, land companies may hold the land for speculation or have no defined plans for it. For sellers hoping to control future uses, this uncertainty could be a disadvantage.

  1. Due Diligence Needs

Reputable land companies will still do their due diligence before finalizing a purchase, including title work, surveys,Phase 1 environmental studies, etc. They may ask the seller to lower the price if any issues come up. An open market buyer is less likely to investigate the property in as much depth.

  1. Potential Tax Implications

Depending on the value of the land, how long it was held, and other circumstances, selling land may generate a taxable capital gain for the seller. Working with a tax professional to understand implications is important before finalizing any major land sale.

  1. No Broker Representation

Unlike listing with a licensed real estate broker, the land company’s interests are purely in negotiating the lowest purchase price possible. There is no advocate helping the seller optimize their financial position or analyzing whether the offer is prudent. This places more burden on the seller to determine fairness.

Key Factors to Weigh with a Land Company Offer

If a Pennsylvania land company makes an offer on your property, there are several key factors to take into account as you analyze the opportunity:

  • Motivation to sell – How quickly do you need to sell the land? Can you afford to wait and try listing it independently? What is your timeline expectation?
  • Development potential – Is the land easily developable or accessed? Are thereAny complications preventing near-term building or construction? Unique features affecting value?
  • Financial position – What tax implications might you face from the sale? Will the offer price sufficiently meet your financial needs?
  • Future use – Do you have any specific concerns about unknown future land use if sold to a company? Would this outweigh desire for quick sale?
  • Market dynamics – Is the local real estate market depressed or appreciating? Are you speculating on short-term appreciation potential? How does the offer compare to assessed value?

By weighing these factors, landowners can make an informed decision on whether the certainty of selling quickly to a land company outweighs potential opportunity costs of pursuing a higher sale price through traditional listings and marketing efforts. Most importantly, be sure to evaluate multiple offer options to identify the best overall fit and financial return for your needs.

Top 3 Reasons to Sell Land to a Land Company

1. Fast and Simple Process

Selling to a land company provides the benefit of a much faster and easier process compared to listing the property independently. Land companies have funds readily available to make all-cash offers and can close quickly, while traditional sales often take many months and substantial effort. By selling to a land company, owners avoid having to list, market, or negotiate with potential buyers.

2. As-Is Condition Accepted

Land companies will typically buy properties in as-is condition, regardless of any clean-up or prep work needed. This saves the seller the potential hassle and expense of clearing brush, removing structures, or otherwise getting the land ready for market. The land company takes on the time and costs of any remediation required.

3. Avoid Commissions and Fees

Working directly with a land company allows the seller to avoid real estate agent commissions, which are often 5-6% of sale price, as well as closing costs and transaction fees. This can equate to thousands in savings compared to a traditional sale involving brokers. There is greater net proceed returned to the seller.

In summary, land companies offer speed, convenience, and avoidance of costs and hassles for the seller. While the purchase price may be discounted, many find the certainty and ease of selling directly to a land company outweighs the trade-offs involved.

Final Thoughts

Selling vacant land in Pennsylvania can be a very complex and nuanced decision with many variables in play for landowners. There are clear benefits in terms of speed and convenience when selling directly to a local land company. However, owners also need to be comfortable with the likelihood of accepting a lower offer versus full open market value. Striking the right balance depends on each seller’s motivation, financial goals, and risk tolerance.

When considering your options, be sure to consult local real estate professionals to understand current market conditions in your area. An appraiser can also provide an unbiased opinion on fair market valuations. An accountant can outline tax implications. And an attorney can review title work and contracts to protect your interests in the transaction. With the right advice and perspective, selling land can be a smooth process resulting in an optimal outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of land will land companies buy?

Land companies purchase all types of rural land, including vacant residential or agricultural land, wooded acreage, properties with existing structures to be demolished, land with clean-up needs, and more. They focus on the underlying land value rather than its current condition or any improvements.

How long does the sale process usually take?

By selling directly to a land company, most transactions can close in as little as a few weeks, though complex cases may take 1-2 months. This is much faster than listing on the open market, which could take many months to over a year to find a suitable buyer.

How much below market value will a land company offer?

There is no fixed rule, but it is typical for land companies to offer 60-70% of estimated market value based on comparable sales. They need this discount to be able to resell at a profit later. Offers depend on factors like development potential and market conditions.

Will I have to pay commissions or closing costs?

No, selling directly to a land company allows the seller to avoid real estate commissions, typically 5-6% of sale price, as well as closing fees and related transaction costs. This also means more net proceeds returned to the seller.

What happens after I sell my land to a company?

Once the sale closes, the land company takes over full ownership and responsibility for the property. They may hold it for investment purposes, make improvements and resell, attempt development, etc. The seller has no further obligations.

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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