How To Buy Hunting Land
A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry about "The Land No One Wanted."
I still have a hard time believing that I'm actually a landowner -- a dream I've had for a long time but, honestly, never thought I'd achieve. Land is expensive. There's just no other way to state it.
That said, there are bargains to be had and the dream of owning your own chunk of dirt is possible. It will take a lot of planning, a lot of saving and, yes, a little bit of luck.
You're also going to need a little bit of help along the way. Depending on the parcel, you may need a lot of help. And, trust me, accepting help is something I struggle with. I suspect many of you are the same. But learning how and whom to ask for help can save you thousands of dollars and hours of headaches. Fortunately there is a group of folks out there who know a whole lot about land and the buying process. They're called realtors. But realtors don't just sell land. In fact, I'd wager much of their business comes from helping folks like us buy land.
The land that I bought had a number of logistical challenges that I knew would scare off most potential buyers. In fact, one of the primary reasons I pursued the property was because of those logistical challenges. I knew the price was highly negotiable because the property had issues -- it was landlocked, lacking an easy and obvious access point and it was located in an area that made seeing the potential of the land difficult.
But I also knew the history of the area and was confident that an easement existed. All I needed to do was find it. That's where my research skills came in mighty handy. And I found that easement, stuffed away in historical records. After hours of searching, I found what I was looking for. On page 403.
With that easement in hand, it was time to start the negotiations. And for that I knew I'd need the help of an expert. So I called a realtor in to help. The key was that I didn't contact the realtor that listed the land. Instead, I contracted with a different realtor from a different agency to work on my behalf. I firmly believe that this move saved me an additional five percent on the cost of the land.
While I trust myself to make good decisions and to research all possible outcomes, I also understand that there are things I simply don't know. By entering into an agreement with a realtor that not only understood the buying process but also understood exactly what my intentions were with the land (to hunt it), I was able to have my own real estate expert on my side and the only way that realtor would get paid is if I bought the land. "My" realtor wasn't interested in making the seller money. He was interested in making sure that I got the land that I wanted at the price that I wanted. That was key.
Most people probably think you must deal directly with the realtor that's selling the property. That's not entirely true. You can have your own realtor working on your behalf even if the land is being offered by another realtor. Think of it this way. The seller contracted with a realtor to help sell the land becuase of the experience and knowledge that realtor brigns to the selling process. Should you not also contract with a realtor to assist you with the buying process?
Think about it: If you work directly through the realtor that's listing the land, how willing do you think they are to lower the price? To fill you in on any hidden details or potential problems? They work for the seller, not the buyer. Their job -- and paycheck -- is dependent upon their ability to get the most dollars per acre.
By bringing in your own agent, you now have a real estate expert working for you, as the buyer. They will be able to identify any and all potential pitfalls, ask questions that you'd never think to ask. And they will have a very good idea of just how far you're able to push the negotiations and the bottom line price. And they also know that they aren't going to get paid unless you buy the land. Thus they will work exceptionally hard to make the deal happen and they know far more about the negotiation process than you likely will. It's what they do every day.
Best of all, it won't cost you much, if anything. Most real estate deals are made with a set percentage of the sale price going to the realtor. When you, as the buyer, bring your own realtor to the table, the commission money is split evenly between the two agents. While this may make the selling agent a bit unhappy, it won't add to the price of the land or require you to spend any additional out-of-pocket money. The commission is simply deducted from the selling price.
Having a qualified realtor on your side can make a big, big difference in both the final price that you pay and the quality of the overall experience. If that realtor is a hunter and is familiar with hunting land in your area, that knowledge could pay off in a big, big way.
You wouldn't go hunting without ammo, right? Well, the same principle applies here. I entered into my land search with a few weapons -- my ability to conduct research, knowledge of the area that I was looking to buy land in. But when it came time to pull the trigger, that realtor was my ammo.
And my aim was pretty good.