This article will examine how land agents help you buy land, sell land or even just help you find potential sites for development. Conversely, you may also benefit from using a land agent to help you get your land for sale or rent in front of a better quality of prospective buyers.
The pros and cons of land agents are wide ranging, however, so let’s start with some of the professional services and advice which you can access by using them.
Professional Service & Advice
All except the most ardent and experienced land traders will likely need some assistance with managing a land purchase or sale. That’s because the nature of the item being traded, as well as being highly valuable and increasingly scarce, includes lots of unknown factors.
When finding a land site to purchase, a visual inspection isn’t enough to deduce what the underlying topographical characteristics of the area are. Checks need to be carried out on all sorts of other issues too (we explore these in the next section) and when a party is reviewing several potential sites at once, this can be extremely time consuming.
A land agent will essentially execute a lot of the leg work on your behalf. This can save you time and effort to concentrate on other projects or developing land sites that you already own.
The most common professional services that respected land agents will provide for a fee include:
- Sourcing new sites and connecting buyers and sellers together.
- Completing the relevant legal paperwork and processes in much the same way that a property estate agents would.
- They can offer market analysis and early stage feasibility studies. This service can likely be paid for on a range of selected sites, allowing you to avoid spending time on finding out that your shortlisted locations are no good. You can concentrate on sites with potential instead.
- Given land agents’ experience in the field, they can also conduct assessments of your existing portfolio, offering advice on gaps within it and they may even have inside information on upcoming opportunities.
- Their consultancy services can be acquired for all sorts of land trading issues: advice on layout and realistic planning goals, location consultancy and advice, occupier demand studies and demographic mapping of the area or of potential buyers and tenants, as well as helping you to develop an effective longer term development strategy.
And, as mentioned, besides this professional advice and trustworthy administration time, they’re also experienced in land related issues and you can tap into this wealth of knowledge for your own benefit.
Experience On Your Side
Given that land agents are experts in the field of land surveying and have been involved in many land transactions, they (or their agency) will have come across many land related issues.
Paying for a land agent to be working in your camp means you’re paying for their experience in dealing with contamination, title, planning, access and environmental concerns.
For example, if you come up against an unfamiliar environmental or contamination issue, it’s likely your land agent, or someone in their network, will have some experience in how to tackle it.
Given they are already involved in your land trade, this can speed up the process of reaching a resolution compared to if you had to head out to market and find a new land agent.
Their experience with the more run of the mill issues on a land trade, such as planning applications and the like, can be a godsend for novice land buyers or those with little experience.
But Do You Need It?
The obvious argument against using land agents is that you are simply paying somebody to complete a lot of tasks which you could be doing yourself for free.
If you or your business regularly rents, buys and sells land sites, your network of associated contacts might be sufficient to manage the process. Your regular specialist solicitor might be able to ratify legal paperwork and if your company is experienced enough to complete feasibility studies and the like. Also, completing the preparatory work, checks and applications is simply an operating cost.
But if a land purchase is an additional project to your regular workload or a one-off purchase to build your dream home, then it’s another matter entirely.
Every bit of preparatory paperwork, chasing up of applications and the like is time and attention diverted from other currently more pressing issues.
Whether it be having to take time out of regular work to attend a meeting on site or spending your evenings responding to requests and chasing up documents, the end result is your time and attention is limited. Something has to give and it’s either your regular work or your own free time whenever you’re completing the work a land agent could complete for you.
You need to assess your own circumstances and decide whether you need a land agent based on:
- Can you complete the work a land agent would without it impacting on your main working practice?
- Do you have the expertise and knowledge to complete the work a land agent would, even if time is not an issue?
- Would completing the tasks a land agent would do slow down your project?
Get The Best Of Both Worlds
Whilst those who are time poor and cash rich might be happy to have a land agent complete a lot of the sourcing and progressing of land site purchases or sales, others might need their help and advice intermittently.
Others might enjoy sourcing sites and completing feasibility studies themselves. This is, after all, part of the thrill of buying and selling land and a big part of why we all enjoy being land traders. It allows us to truly own a project and feel involved.
And some of us might enjoy drawing up a shortlist of potential sites and let other professionals do the legwork and get back involved when a land site is purchased and ready for development.
The biggest stumbling block to these methods is often the ability to find potential land sites easily and readily, whilst being able to have the seller and professional services on hand to discuss the site with you.
But this is changing. Buying and selling land is entering the digital age and finally becoming a simple process.
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