Are there additional "non-traditional" ways to market a house for sale?
August 13, 2013 11:00 AM   Subscribe

I have a relative attempting to sell her house in Vermont. She has a realtor but finding an appropriate buyer is going to be tricky for a number of reasons. Are there any good "alternative" ways to market a house above and beyond what the realtor is doing?

Reasons that will make finding a buyer "tricky":
  • The land is farmland with a fair amount of acreage
  • The property includes substantial fencing (currently used for horses & cows) as well as a large barn.
  • Although this is a somewhat "traditional" farm, it is not in a traditional location for a farm. It is within a few miles of a large power plant.
Right now I'm thinking that making a single page website with descriptions of the property and pictures (with a link back to the official listing page) would be worth it. But what else? Anyone have any experience with this sort of problem?
posted by jeremias to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think one of the things a real estate agent does and does well is connect with local buyers. I think the challenge here is that this is not a property where someone is simply looking for a house. It is a commercial property. You might consider listing it with a commercial Realtor as well. I think I would figure out a way to reach a larger audience than simply people looking in that town in Vt. Your website idea sounds good. I do not know if there are magazines for the farming lifestyle like there are for Cabin Life, but an ad in one of those types of magazines would help get the word out. I have also seen short videos made for local and not so local newspapers to talk about unique properties for sale.

It only takes one buyer to sell a house. To me, and I just sold a ordinary suburban house pretty quickly, is to get as many people as possible to see that the property is for sale as possible.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:23 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want a faster sale, lower the price.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:30 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Word of mouth in the local community usually helps a lot, if the seller isn't a pariah.

If you are trying to reach an audience outside the local area, then JohnnyGunn's point of reaching more people is key. A web site would be a good start. Can you get a local paper to do a "House of the Week" type of feature piece on it, and then get some links to that?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:31 AM on August 13, 2013

Ensuring the Realtor has experience selling this type of property is a very good start; a condo realtor is going to have a tough time with something like this. Beyond that, the website idea is a good one, as is putting the word out on as many social media sites as possible, and ask people to pass the word along.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:31 AM on August 13, 2013

This is commercial farmland. You need a realtor who knows how to market it.

Another option is to approach home builders and see if they're interested in developing it.

What's the deal with the zoning?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:36 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

It needs to be listed wherever people who are looking for farmland in Vermont look. If that is on MLS, then as long as it is listed correctly, there probably isn't much more you can do. If that is somewhere else, then make sure it is listed there too. Farmland isn't something you buy because you saw an ad somewhere - the only people who buy farmland are those who are looking to buy farmland.

If, on the other hand, the value of the property is mostly the house, and not the land, then the strategy would be different.
posted by ssg at 11:47 AM on August 13, 2013

Reasons that will make finding a buyer "tricky":

For much of rural New England those are far from unusual details -- with the exception of the power plant they are selling points, not drawbacks. "A few miles" from a power plant is barely even relevant, for that matter, unless you're talking about Yankee Nuclear.

A number of the properties we looked at when we moved to western MA included acreage worked and maintained by nearby farmers; if your relative's land is too large to reasonably be sold as a private residence instead of as a working farm, having that sort of arrangement ready to go might increase the range of potential buyers.

Other than that, I agree with everyone else that your best bet is a realtor with experience in this type of sale. I think it's more common than you might expect.
posted by ook at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2013

UnitedCountry is a real estate agency that does just that. They sell farms, ranches, vacation properties, and odd commercial buildings. I used to fantasy shop on their website, and have used them to sell strange property in Colorado years ago.
posted by Vaike at 12:03 PM on August 13, 2013

I sold a place with a large amount of land and a large barn in Vermont last year. I tried a bunch of things and ultimately went with a realtor and had a decent experience. Sold for less than my asking price but not a crazy low amount. Suggestions

- Craigslist is good for getting to show off a bunch of stuff and interacting with people. I got a LOT of bites from Craigslist but very few serious ones
- Flyers in places where people who might want to live where the place is are located. Nice picture or two, list of attributes, realtor's contact info
- Try listing the place as land with a house, there are different places that people looking for land seem to go to and making sure there are two listings was, I think, ultimately what sold my place. This won't work if the house has a lot of value but in my case it sort of didn't.
- if the land is "in current use" note in in a big way [this is an actual Vermont term not just words of English - land in current use can qualify for tax exemptions - property taxes in VT ar sort of high, this might matter to people)
- fences are good -- make sure you have a current survey
- in the town that I was in, having 10 acres + a farm building meant that there was basically no zoning which was a real selling point, I thought. Look into local zoning and see if there is anything appealing like that out there.
- I know people trying to sell places with single serving websites and I have not found them that useful among the people I know who have tried them.

Spread the word around facebook/Twitter etc with a short link to a good listing with a LOT of photos. I offered a bounty for anyone who would introduce me to the person who would buy my house. May not be feasible for you but worth a shot. It's a crapshoot selling places right now in most places in Vermont and it's a buyer's market so think about whether it might be more worthwhile to really drop the price or just to sit on it for a while. Sellers are motivated by different things, so try to work with your relative to fogure out what is important to them. Hit me up on MeMail if I can help at all.
posted by jessamyn at 2:44 PM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Listen to jessamyn.

Also, this is NOT a commercial property. It isn't uncommon for folks to raise animals on their residential property. Here's a sentence from a property in Bristol: "Nice animal barn with fencing, power and water to it."

So it may not be so tricky afterall.
posted by evening at 6:42 AM on August 14, 2013

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