Land that won't sell: what would you do?

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Karl
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Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:30 pm

In 1976 my father bought 120 acres of vacant land in northern WI (Price County). It was bought as a speculative investment as it "had to go up," being so cheap at only $6,000. It's hunting land. That's the polite way of saying it's unsuitable for either housing or agriculture. All road frontage is lowlands, thus it's impossible to put in a driveway, thus impossible to build a house. One Realtor who declined to list it said that it would be "difficult to sell at any price" without an easement allowing road access from neighboring highlands to our highlands.

My father died in 2005 and for the last 8 years my mother has been trying on & off to sell this land. So far she's had four different Realtors and thus far not a single offer has come in.

Years ago it started out with a listing price of about $145,000 (its assessed value then). This July it was listed for $54,900 and the Realtor thought it would realistically sell for $49,900. Now after three and a half months he's failed to bring in any offers, just like all the Realtors who came before him. Even though he has the advantage of a dramatically lower price. In October the town did an assessment and the assessor pulled $71,500 out of the air. He magically lowered that to $54,000 when I e-mailed the listing to him.

I spoke with my brother last night and he suggested our mother could hire an assessor to find out what the land is really worth, though I didn't care for the idea as it appears they simply make up numbers. We've seen what the assessment firm hired by the town makes up. They used to claim it was worth $145K and we couldn't sell it for that, so apparently it's not worth that. I note how it's circular. Realtors base their listing price on what the assessment says it's worth and the assessor bases the assessment on what the listing price is. They both look to the other and it's obvious that neither one has a clue.

Question: at what point would you call up your Realtor and lower the price? Any other ideas on what to do? Anybody else ever have real estate that failed to sell after nearly 4 years of being listed or has my mother set a record?

The basis was stepped up at his death to its then assessed value of $147K, so if it ever sells my mom will have a massive capital loss.

I think we can all learn a lesson from this tale. Junk land remains junk land no matter how long you hold it, so don't buy junk land. My father should have invested in a Vanguard mutual fund. Just think how much $6K invested in Index 500 in 1976 would be worth today. And best of all, it doesn't take 8+ years to sell a mutual fund. Mutual funds also don't send you a property tax bill every December.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by chaz » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:45 pm

List it for $8,000 - maybe it will sell.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by fredjohnson » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:48 pm

Give it to a charity. Get a written appraisal for $50,000. Take a tax deduction. If it was me--I'm in the highest tax bracket---it would save $30,000 in income taxes in 2013.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by dailybagel » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:49 pm

One natural buyer would be the owners of adjacent land. Could you contact them about selling it?

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by HouseStark » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:54 pm

Karl wrote: Question: at what point would you call up your Realtor and lower the price? Any other ideas on what to do? Anybody else ever have real estate that failed to sell after nearly 4 years of being listed or has my mother set a record?

I think we can all learn a lesson from this tale. Junk land remains junk land no matter how long you hold it, so don't buy junk land. My father should have invested in a Vanguard mutual fund. Just think how much $6K invested in Index 500 in 1976 would be worth today. And best of all, it doesn't take 8+ years to sell a mutual fund. Mutual funds also don't send you a property tax bill every December.
I think that point would be when it is apparent that there is no interest at the current asking price, which sounds like it was reached some time ago.

I'd say the real estate agents can certainly be faulted for setting the asking price too high and for promoting unrealistic expectations on sale value, but they can't be blamed for the market if there is little to no demand for such land at that price.

Can anyone in the area produce comparable sales to show what sales have actually occurred? Especially when real estate is not income producing, the main basis for valuation is going to be comparable sales. If there are some, that should be some factual data to help arrive at a reasonable value. If there are few to no sales of comparable land anywhere around there, then that's a tough case.

The opportunity cost of what could have been done with the funds years ago is no longer relevant. What matters now is what your mother is willing to accept to be done with it and to get out from under the tax burden.

Has anyone suggested an auction? It doesn't have to be a live auction and a reserve price could be set. I've seen online auctions for real estate, though admittedly they were for much more marketable foreclosed residential properties.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:55 pm

Donate it to Price County. Take a tax write-off and get rid of those pesky taxes.
Good Luck to the OP.

Reminds me of a story, a while back a friend tried to offload his property to me for hunting. Took a long ride to see it - located in the middle of nowhere, the nearest store was 15 miles away, no services, no nothing - but that $800 a year tax bill. It was loaded with deer trails, loaded. Driving 4 hours for deer gets old after a while. I passed, friend tried and tried to sell it to no avail, finally another fellow picked it up from my friend for less than the original purchase price - talk about deflation!
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by InvestorNewb » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:58 pm

120 acres is a lot of land. That's about 120 football fields...

Personally I would hold onto it, or maybe advertise the sale better so you can get a decent price for it.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by SmallSaver » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:59 pm

Hunt it!
Serious suggestions: I don't know what your tax situation is, but there could be value in getting a conservation easement on it, maybe check with the local land trust (if there is one). Also maybe get in touch with local hunt clubs? They may be willing to buy or lease it from you, although maybe not for $50k.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:03 pm

You could lower the price by $2K a month. Should be sold within a year or two.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by stan1 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:05 pm

It's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. The assessed value matters for property taxes. Get it reassessed if your mom is paying property tax on a $147K piece of land. The appraised value matters for a loan. It's unlikely a bank would give anyone a loan on a property like this.

I'd put a sign along the road and on Craigslist for locations within 3 hour drive that says "120 acre private hunting reserve, $20K cash obo" and see what happens. No real estate agent will list it for this price (unless you gave them a fixed commission rather than a percentage) so FSBO may be an option.

You might be able to rent it out during hunting season if you are interested in doing that. Donating it to the county, a nature conservancy, or selling cheaply to adjoining land owners are all good options as well.

At this point the parcel sounds like it is a liability not an asset. Do whatever it takes to get rid of it. Inheriting it from your mom won't make this any easier. Hopefully she doesn't need the proceeds from the sale to pay her living expenses.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by stan1 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:08 pm

How much is the annual property tax?
Does she carry insurance on it?

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:19 pm

fredjohnson wrote:Give it to a charity. Get a written appraisal for $50,000. Take a tax deduction. If it was me--I'm in the highest tax bracket---it would save $30,000 in income taxes in 2013.
Works great for those in a high tax bracket, but mom is in the 0% bracket.

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Karl
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:24 pm

stan1 wrote:How much is the annual property tax?
Does she carry insurance on it?
The property taxes are around $900 per year. Keeping property taxes down is why I e-mailed the assessor to get the valuation reduced from $71,500 to $54,000.

She has an umbrella liability policy which should extend to this property, though it shouldn't legally be possible to sue over this property as it's vacant land. My brother, a lawyer, seems to think all is safe.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by mickeyd » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:29 pm

My friend had a chunk of land he inherited from mom near Sanderson,TX. He gave it back to the county and washed his hands.

I had a chunk of land in Watauga County, NC a while back that I did not want/need and could not find a buyer for. I tried a string of realtors and after 15 years I finally sold it for a small profit. Undeveloped land is a risky asset. Never again.
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Karl
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:30 pm

Here's the listing. Doesn't it sound great? Any of you guys want some hunting land in northern Wisconsin? Deer season is coming and you could bag Bambi.

[Link removed by admin LadyGeek]

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by stan1 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:35 pm

You probably want to delete the reference to the listing.
I think your mom's name is on the parcel map linked from the listing.

You want to contact the person who owns the large adjacent parcels (he has over 1000 acres) and the person who owns the 40 acre landlocked parcel inside the "L" of your mom's property
Make them an offer they can't refuse.
Last edited by stan1 on Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Texas hold em71 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:35 pm

It does not sound like your mom is going to have any estate tax issues. Could she gift it to you or your brother (value exceeds $14,000 so a gift tax return is required but no tax due just eats at her lifetime gift exemption). Then one of you could donate it and get the tax write-off?

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:46 pm

stan1 wrote:It's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
I know. I had a finance professor who used to say that.
stan1 wrote:I'd put a sign along the road and on Craigslist for locations within 3 hour drive that says "120 acre private hunting reserve, $20K cash obo" and see what happens.
I assume the Realtor has a sign along the road. I can't confirm this as the land is 5 hours away and I've never seen it. Actually, only two people in our family have ever seen this land. My father & brother saw it in 1976. It hasn't been seen since.
stan1 wrote:selling cheaply to adjoining land owners are all good options as well.
I assume a Realtor would have contacted adjoining land owners, though I'm not sure. Just seems an obvious thing to do. I remember years ago when my father was alive he'd get letters for adjoining land owners asking if he was interested in selling. Sadly, he ignored those letters. With the clarity of hindsight he should have jumped at the opportunity.
stan1 wrote:At this point the parcel sounds like it is a liability not an asset.
Yeah, that's what I'd call it.
stan1 wrote:Inheriting it from your mom won't make this any easier.
Yes, that would just give us another round of probate after which my brother & I have the same old problem of land that will not sell.
stan1 wrote:Hopefully she doesn't need the proceeds from the sale to pay her living expenses.
She has enough to live comfortably. I don't even bother to count the land in her net worth, assuming its value to be zero. Realistically, I think the value is some positive number though I don't think it's much.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by frugaltype » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:53 pm

Texas hold em71 wrote:It does not sound like your mom is going to have any estate tax issues. Could she gift it to you or your brother (value exceeds $14,000 so a gift tax return is required but no tax due just eats at her lifetime gift exemption). Then one of you could donate it and get the tax write-off?
If the neighbors don't want it, this is what I would do, or have your Mom donate it directly even though she doesn't get a deduction. See if some conversation organization wants it. If there's not a local one, try the Nature Conservancy. At this point, though, just getting rid of the tax bill and hassle would be a benefit.

If no one wants it at all, see what the procedure is to forfeit it to the local government for unpaid taxes and what the ramifications of doing that are.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:58 pm

HouseStark wrote:Has anyone suggested an auction? It doesn't have to be a live auction and a reserve price could be set. I've seen online auctions for real estate, though admittedly they were for much more marketable foreclosed residential properties.
Nobody has ever suggested an auction and I never considered such a thing. I'm not familiar with real estate auctions. It would seem such couldn't be considered at this time as the listing contract is for one year, expiring on July 29, 2014.

Seems the course of action to take is to contact the Realtor and lower the price some and see if that gets any offers. If not, then lower the price again & again until sold.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by stan1 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:02 pm

Need to contact Robert P. Meetz. He owns 1500-2000 adjacent acres in multiple parcels according to the parcel map in the listing.
My guess is he'll likely buy it -- you just have to find the right (low) price.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:04 pm

Texas hold em71 wrote:Could she gift it to you or your brother (value exceeds $14,000 so a gift tax return is required but no tax due just eats at her lifetime gift exemption). Then one of you could donate it and get the tax write-off?
Now that's an interesting idea that I will forward to my brother.

My brother's income is low, but he has a lot of traditional retirement accounts which he wants to convert to Roths. His plan was to do the conversions a little bit each year over the next decade. But if he had this land as a write off he could do a lot of Roth conversions in one year.

That sounds like leading possibility if lowering the price fails to make for a sale.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by rob » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:09 pm

I think you need to talk to the people who own the adjoining properties..... Realistically they are the only ones with a potential interest without access or work on what it would take to get access into the property.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:14 pm

stan1 wrote:Need to contact Robert P. Meetz. He owns 1500-2000 adjacent acres in multiple parcels according to the parcel map in the listing.
My guess is he'll likely buy it -- you just have to find the right (low) price.
When you have a Realtor are you even allowed to make private deals like that? (Assuming you pay the 7% commission.) I thought you were supposed to refer all interested buyers to your Realtor. Or do you ask Mr. Meetz if he'd be interested in buying for, say, $20,000 and then tell him to go to your Realtor who can then write up that offer?

There are also a number of different individuals listed with the name Robert Meetz & Robert P. Meetz in Wisconsin, so I guess one would have to find the right one. And we don't know for sure he even lives in Wisconsin or that he's one of the Mr. Meetz's with a listed number.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Abe » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:18 pm

Karl
This is what I would do. Either divide the land up into two 60 acre plots or three 40 acre plots and sell them as hunting land for a low down payment with owner financing. Of course, you could sell the whole tract the same way. The owner financing is the key. Keep the property in your name and sell on a land contract. This means you will deed it to them when it's paid for. That way you should not have to go through and expensive foreclosure in case of default. I would structure the note for as short a term as possible. Get a quit claim deed from the buyer to you when you write the contract and hold it. That way if the buyer defaults and still claims an interest in the property, you can just record the quit claim deed clearing any cloud on the title. Once you have it sold, you can sell your contract if you want to cash out. You will probably have to sell it at a discount, but you should be able to sell it. Your other option is to just let the buyer pay it out in payments. I am not a lawyer. Hope this helps.

Another option:
Where I live, land owners are letting their land grow up with trees. There is a government program that pays them to do this. I don't know what the name of the program is, but you might check into it.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by tim1999 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:42 pm

Karl wrote: There are also a number of different individuals listed with the name Robert Meetz & Robert P. Meetz in Wisconsin, so I guess one would have to find the right one. And we don't know for sure he even lives in Wisconsin or that he's one of the Mr. Meetz's with a listed number.
You just need to call the tax assessor and give them one of Meetz's tax parcel numbers, then the assessor will give you the address that the property tax bills are being sent to. Public information.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by letsgobobby » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:52 pm

tax question.

If she gifts it to you over 3 years at $14k per year, staying within the $14k annual gift tax exclusion limit, do you get to keep the higher basis and then sell it in your tax bracket to realize the loss? Or donate it so you get a deduction?

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:13 pm

Abe wrote:Another option:
Where I live, land owners are letting their land grow up with trees. There is a government program that pays them to do this. I don't know what the name of the program is, but you might check into it.
My brother did that with farmland he used to own.

Much of it is lowlands, so I don't know it it's suitable for growing the kind of trees they want. In any case, we really don't want to keep the land. It's a yearly tax bill. We'd prefer an investment that pays us.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:14 pm

letsgobobby wrote:tax question.

If she gifts it to you over 3 years at $14k per year, staying within the $14k annual gift tax exclusion limit, do you get to keep the higher basis and then sell it in your tax bracket to realize the loss? Or donate it so you get a deduction?
There would be no reason to not gift it all at once if she were to do that. Her assets are low enough that she never has to worry about estate or gift taxes.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:21 pm

Is it against Realtor etiquette to contact clients and ask if they'd consider lowering the price of a property that's not selling?

I was wondering about that since this is now Realtor #4 and none of them ever suggested lower the price even though none of them were able to bring in a single offer, making it obvious that the list price was too high.

Also, is it standard procedure or not for Realtors to contact adjoining landowners to see if they'd be interested in buying? You guys suggest this rather obvious move, so has mom's Realtor tried this or did the obvious elude him?

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by tim1999 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:45 pm

Karl wrote:Is it against Realtor etiquette to contact clients and ask if they'd consider lowering the price of a property that's not selling?
No, that is normal. Not every seller will go for it, of course.
Karl wrote:
Also, is it standard procedure or not for Realtors to contact adjoining landowners to see if they'd be interested in buying? You guys suggest this rather obvious move, so has mom's Realtor tried this or did the obvious elude him?
Not really in my experience, especially on low-dollar deals like this. A lot of realtors are too busy/lazy to do this. If anything they might send out some postcard, but contacting them directly is not common unless you specifically ask them to.

You may contact these people yourself, but the listing agreement likely calls for the realtor's commission to be paid still, even if you found the buyer yourself, during the listing period.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by ourbrooks » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:19 pm

Ask the realtor to schedule a weekly teleconference and to maintain a contacts log. Keep a record of when/if the teleconference occurred.
Did the agreement with the realtor include an MLS listing? Ask to see evidence of it. An MLS listing only means that other realtors can see it. Ask about any additional advertising. In short, make sure that the realtor earns his/her commission.

As others have written, it is 100% legitimate to ask the realtor to contact owner's of adjacent land. During the weekly teleconference, ask the realtor to give a progress report.

Has anyone done any online advertising; do a search for "hunting land Wisconsin" and see what pops up. Is your property on any of those sites? Why not?

Look on Craig's List in various Wisconsin cities to see what hunting land is going for. Make sure you list your land on Craig's List. If the realtor wants a 7% commission, wouldn't you be willing to pay 7% just to get the property off your hands?

As another poster has said, consider renting/leasing the land for hunting. You might get enough to cover the taxes.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Sconie » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:27 pm

Karl wrote:
Abe wrote:Another option:
Where I live, land owners are letting their land grow up with trees. There is a government program that pays them to do this. I don't know what the name of the program is, but you might check into it.
My brother did that with farmland he used to own.

Much of it is lowlands, so I don't know it it's suitable for growing the kind of trees they want. In any case, we really don't want to keep the land. It's a yearly tax bill. We'd prefer an investment that pays us.

I used to live in Wisconsin and the law of which you speak is known as the Wisconsin Managed Forest Law. Here is a synopsis of its provisions:

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestLandowner ... enrollment
I know that you think you understand what you thought I said, but I don't think you realize that what I said is necessarily what I meant......

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by YttriumNitrate » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:37 pm

It looks like Wisconsin's deer season for gun hunting starts November 23...so basically it's a bit late for selling it this year. However, you might be able to recoup a bit of the taxes by leasing it out for this year if you can arrange a quick transaction.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by sport » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:46 pm

Is there oil or natural gas in this area? If so, mineral rights have significant value.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by maitrina » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:52 pm

A guy I know has a similar piece of northern Wisconsin and 50 years ago he planted walnut trees all over it. I admire his long-term view.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:21 pm

See if you can get your realtor to get a forester to look at it to value any trees, ditto with mineral rights, ditto with unique conservation values.
If you are 0-3, then the neighbor makes sense.
Other solutions would probably require additional investment and it sounds like that is the wrong direction.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by stan1 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:31 pm

The realtor isn't going to do much for 7% of $54.9K ($3843) (possibly much less if sales price goes down).

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Watty
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Watty » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:45 pm

Your real estate agent should have already contacted the adjacent land owners since that would just take a few phone calls. That and putting the listing on the computer is about all that I would expect though since a 7% commission on $50K is $3,500 which would likely be split with another agent and her real estate company. After they pay any taxes on their part of the commission if it does sell they would be doing good to clear a thousand dollars.

Financing the purchase of land like that is very difficult if not impossible.

Since you can’t sell it then one option would be to be willing to provide financing for the purchase so your mom could at least get some income from the land.

It was not clear if land had any trees on it that could be sold. Not only could this provide some income but if you are going to have the land clear cut the adjacent landowners might have some more incentive to buy the land before it is clear cut.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by jfn111 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:30 pm

A couple of ideas, I'm a Realtor. You can ask your Realtor to look at Auctions.com They charge the buyer a 5% commission so the buyer would be paying them and you would be only on the hook for the set commission you already agreed to.
I would also call the guy up and ask him if he's contacted the adjoining land owners. If he's not interested in doing any work ask to cancel the listing agreement.
Realtor's don't like complaints filed against them. For the couple of thousand bucks he stands to make i think he will negate the contract rather then risk you contacting the regulatory authority.

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Karl
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Karl » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:53 am

Before taking any more drastic actions, I thought it best we go with the most conservative approach of simply lowering the price. Presumably there's some price at which it will sell. I know there was a price at which a fool bought it in 1976.

On behalf of my mother I sent the following e-mail to her Realtor:

Dear Adam:

My land hasn't yet brought in any offers, so I'm wondering if the list price of $54,900 should be reduced to attract buyers. What are your thoughts?

Have you contacted all the adjoining landowners including Robert P. Meetz to see if they would be interested in buying my property?

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

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sperry8
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by sperry8 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 6:23 am

Is there any way to get the easement so you can get a driveway onto the property? If someone can ultimately build on it, it may sell for much more (although admittedly, there is work required going through the county to get the easement).
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carolinaman
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by carolinaman » Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:37 am

I would keep lowering the price until I had a buyer. Once sold you eliminate the annual property tax bill and your mother has a capital loss she can use for tax purposes.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by tadamsmar » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:43 am

Contact the owners of the neighboring highlands and work out an easement agreement. You could not even bother to buy the easement., just sell the easement and the land as a package deal. You may need input from county officials and a lawyer to figure out what constitutes a valid easement.

Also, you might be able to sell the timber on the land. I have found that the best way to sell timber is to find a forestry service that arranges auctions.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:13 am

johnep wrote:I would keep lowering the price until I had a buyer. Once sold you eliminate the annual property tax bill and your mother has a capital loss she can use for tax purposes.
I'm not sure she has a capital loss. If she's been trying to sell it continually since inheriting it any appraisal clearly does not represent fair market value.

arthurb999
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by arthurb999 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:39 am

Subdivide it and gift it to your family... ones with a tax bracket... dontate it... take the tax writeoff and move on.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by l2ridehd » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:46 am

There are several steps that you should take.

1. Go see the land. How can you even begin to place a value on it if you have never seen it? Invest the day and go see it.
2. Get with the county and see what you have to do to get a driveway from the road to the land. There has to be a way to do it. Might need to install culverts or bring in fill, but believe it can be done.
3. If the county refuses for some reason then you have a very strong case to force them to drop the valuation to almost zero. If they do allow it and even if it's costly, having the plan increases the value. Doing it really increases the value.
4. Personally contact all land owners that abut your land and see if there is any interest and and what price. Even if you must wait until the listing expires to sell it, so what does another several months matter.
5. Check into "current use" for taxes. I own 250 acres in NH that is about like this and the taxes are less then $200 a year because it is in current use (recreational) which is the lowest category. There are others, growing timber, hunting, recreation, etc.
6. Check with a CPA on how you utilize taxes to effect the sale/transfer/gift of the land.
7. Once you have all these facts and information you can then make an informed decision as what works best.

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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by deanbrew » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:36 am

Clear back to the first post: The OP is misunderstanding the difference between an assessor/assessment and an appraiser/appraisal. County and state assessment offices do not appraise each individual property. They conduct "mass assessments" where values are then applied to properties based on physical and legal characteristics. If you want to know what a specific property is worth, you hire an appraiser, who does not work for the county assessment office. If you are using realtors who rely on assessments to determine market value, there is part of your problem.

Having said that, you may not need to hire an appraiser. You need to find someone local who is knowledgeable about land and recreational uses (hunting, ATV, horses, etc.). Is this land really suitable for hunting? As in, are there sufficient deer there to make hunting worthwhile? Is there ample food (browse, acorns, grain) on the land or nearby to support deer? If it hasn't sold for the prices indicated, that suggests to me it either isn't suitable for hunting or isn't being marketed properly. Are there mature hardwood trees, or other timber value? Is the "lowland" swampy all or most of the time, making access difficult for even hunting or ATV/snowmobile use? See if you can find any sportsmans clubs, hunting clubs or shooting ranges nearby and call and talk to someone.

Are you sure it has been listed on MLS? What other marketing has been done to attract outdoor land users (hunters, ATV riders, snowmobilers, etc.)? I can't help but think that inadequate marketing is part of the problem. As others have pointed out, the commission on a $50k property is very low and not worth much effort on the part of a broker. That's simply a fact of life. A 6% commission is usually split four ways, so a selling agent would only net approximately $750 on a sale. One strategy is to offer a bonus to a selling agent. Offering a $1,000 bonus to the selling agent more than doubles the commission such an agent would receive and may be worthwhile.
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Abe
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Abe » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:37 am

I would not lower the price just yet. You need to talk to your RE agent and see if similar property in the area has sold and for how much. That will give you a better idea of the value than anything else. Tax assessors are notorious for incorrect appraisals. If you expect to sell it on a new loan or for cash that is probably part of your problem. Banks don't like to loan on this kind of property and most buyers don't have the cash. As I said in an earlier post, I would owner finance it with a small or zero down payment. Most buyers are accustomed to buying on the installment plan. If you let the realtor sell it this way, you could probably negotiate on the commission where he could receive all or part of his commission in installments subject to you receiving the payments. I posted earlier on this thread with more details on how to do this.
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Re: Land that won't sell: what would you do?

Post by Luke Duke » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:40 am

Karl wrote:Years ago it started out with a listing price of about $145,000 (its assessed value then). This July it was listed for $54,900 and the Realtor thought it would realistically sell for $49,900. Now after three and a half months he's failed to bring in any offers, just like all the Realtors who came before him. Even though he has the advantage of a dramatically lower price. In October the town did an assessment and the assessor pulled $71,500 out of the air. He magically lowered that to $54,000 when I e-mailed the listing to him.
Ask the county to reassess it at $145K, then donate it to the Boy Scouts.

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