“I want to sell, but I don’t need the money.” This is a common refrain uttered by people who are contemplating the sale of a piece of real estate. If they do not need the money, then why are they selling? Finding the “Why”, the “What”, the “When”, the “Who” is an essential part of making a real estate deal come together.
Several years ago I helped some seller clients sell about 800 acres of beautiful hardwood and pine timberland that had been in the same family for over 70 years. There were simultaneous offers to purchase the land, one came from a hardwood timber company and the other from a small group of land investors. My clients looked at both offers, and immediately rejected the one that had “timber” in the name of their organization. One of the family members told me, “These other people may cut the timber also, but at least it isn’t in my face.” I believe the timber company would have ultimately paid a higher price than the investors did, but the sellers preferred to deal with individuals instead of the timber company. Their motivation was not only money, but also seeing that the land ended up in good hands.
Here are a few considerations regarding motivation that I have seen influence the decision of buyers and sellers.
- Past Experiences- Past experiences, positive or negative, can play a significant role in the outcome of a real estate deal. I have seen sellers refuse to sell to an adjoining land owner because of some long-running family feud. I have seen buyers refuse to make an offer on a listed property because they had a bad experience with the listing agent in the past. Those little details can mean all the difference between getting your deal done or not.
- Time is of the Essence- Timing can be the most crucial part of a real estate transaction. A buyer may need to identify and make an offer on a replacement property because they are doing a 1031 exchange. On day 45 of their identification period, a 1031 buyer may be extremely motivated to try to work something out to avoid paying 15% to 20% in capital gains tax. Sellers may be faced with an immediate expense for a home repair or the loss of a job. If you wait a month to make a decision, they may find alternate sources of funding, and no longer be highly motivated to sale. I learned a long time ago, “The time to do business is when someone is ready to do business.” The whole world can change for someone in a day, so don’t miss out on an opportunity because you dragged your feet.
- Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)- If you’ve ever seen the look in a buyer’s eye when they missed out on a property they really wanted, you know what I am talking about. They missed one, but By George, they will not let that happen again. In 2015, I watched a professional athlete miss out on buying a property that would have been an ideal tract for him. Instead of paying the asking price and buying a tract he would have enjoyed for decades, he tried to make a lower offer and he missed out on the deal. He was trying to save about $150/acre and did not offer full-price. Another buyer came in one hour after the ball player made his offer, he offered full price, and bought the property. 2 years later the athlete found another property, across the river from the tract I sold, for about $750/acre MORE than the one he had the opportunity to buy before. He overpaid for a property of lesser quality because he did not want to miss out again.
- Feel Goods- Emotions play a big part in many real estate deals. About 2/3 of the properties I sell are related to estate transition, and these farms and land have often been owned by the same family for generations. When it comes time to sell a property, they want to know that it is going to someone who will be a good steward of the property that their family has enjoyed for so long. I saw this exact thing happen several years ago when a family hired me to help them sell a property to a board member of The Nature Conservancy. They were convinced that this beautiful hardwood property along a pristine river would be protected in perpetuity if they sold to this type of buyer. Often older farmers will offer owner financing or will sell at a reduced rate to help a younger farmer get started on their land.
Finding the motivation of the individuals in your real estate transaction will go a long way to helping you get your deal closed. It is important to ask questions of your customers and clients that will give you the answers you need to find out what really matters to them. Money is not the only motivation for many buyers or sellers, and I have seen a seller be offended by a buyer “showing off” with how much money he has. Your odds of a successful real estate transaction increase when the parties are able to each get what they want, and sometimes it takes more than just money to make the deal come together.
Written by: Jonathan Goode is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) with Southeastern Land Group, and is a licensed real estate broker in Alabama and Mississippi. Jonathan is also a co-host of the weekly radio program, The Land Show, and loves to serve people buying and selling land.