Where To Find Land
September 24, 2010
"The deal of the century comes along about once a week," a land investor once told me. "With a little work, you'll have more land to choose from than you can shake a stick at."
He was right, I've discovered. Finding land for sale is easy, provided you are willing to be creative and do a little work. Certainly you can use the internet, but technology is not the only way — or even the best way — to find land. You want to explore all the "land for sale" options, of course, but you should also be looking for land that can be purchased, but might not be advertised for sale. To find your dream tract, you may want to try a number of different approaches.
A Buyer's Agent: They can do several things to help you in the land-search process. Not only do they have access to listed property, either through multi-lists or their relationship with other real estate agents, but they also can locate land that is for sale but not listed by any agent. These are called "pocket" listings, and they will never be found on the internet and are rarely advertised in print. You'll never know about them unless you contact an agent who is aware of such opportunities, or your agent contacts another agent who has knowledge of such properties.
You may wonder why, if the owner wants to sell, he doesn't just tell everybody. Well, sometimes the owners of rural property don't want their neighbors to know their property is for sale until after it is sold. Maybe they just don't want to keep answering "Why are you selling your land?" Who knows? But if they are selling land, you want to know about it.
Riding Around: Actually getting in your car and traveling through an area, while time-consuming, is probably the most enjoyable way to prospect for land. More than once, I have bought land that I discovered while out driving. And believe it or not, the only method some landowners use to market their land is to nail a "For Sale" sign on a tree.
The Corner Store: This may sound like an odd place to find land, but in small towns across America, the corner store is a great place for information. You can bet your last dollar that the folks at the local store or diner know every landowner in the area and what's going on in their county. The next time you stop in such a place for a drink or a snack, make a point of talking to people. You never know what you might learn, or who you may meet.
The Courthouse: In most counties, you can purchase an electronic copy of the tax digest from the tax assessor. This digest contains information about every tract of land in the county, including acreage and landowners' names and addresses. Once you have that information, you can contact landowners by mail and let them know you are interested in purchasing land like theirs. A lot of counties have this information available online now, so you can get landowner addresses and property information (including maps) without ever leaving your home.
Networking: More than any other part of the land-buying process, finding land is a process of networking. The goal is to meet as many people as you can who have some connection to land. With social networking and e-mail, this has never been easier. So call your relatives. Twitter your friends. Post it on your Facebook page. Tell everyone you meet that you are searching for land to buy.
To be successful in this process, you must build a network. The more people who know that you are looking for land, the better your chances of having the land find you.
ABOUT THE AUTHORDon Webb is the author of "Maximizing The Land Ownership Experience" and president of Greenwood Land Company, which provides land acquisition and consulting services. Contact him at (706) 575-4178 or go online to www.greenwoodproject.com.