Making improvements to your land is an ongoing process. Whether you want to make some improvements to enhance the resell value, or just do a few projects to help you enjoy the place more, there's always plenty to do. Here, Pat Porter offers a list of projects he's personally been involved with on rural land tracts of all sizes.
Excerpt from "How to Sell Your Land Faster - Proven Ways to Improve the Value and Desirability of Rural Land"
by Pat Porter
Your tract may be drop dead beautiful down by that cypress slough, but if we can't get buyers down there to it...well, you get the point. Sellers will
typically underestimate the value in passable roads, trails and creek crossings. But buyers notice them, or lack of them, right away. And they put
more value on them being there than it usually will cost to put them there.
Most buyers don't want to pay thousands of dollars per acre for a project. They want to be able to close the sale at 11:00 a.m. and be riding their 4-wheeler
on the place before dark. You and I know that a decent dozer operator can cut many trails for $100-150 per hr. over a couple days and that a 36-inch
culvert can get us across that creek in the back, but most buyers don't want to solve that problem themselves.
If you invested the time and/or money to get some of this done, you'd be half way to selling the tract before the buyer even shows up. Don't think that
you need all-weather rock roads everywhere. Sometimes just 4-wheelers trails, bush-hogged and 1 1/2 or 2 dozer blades wide, is enough to get around
the tract and show off the highlights. Make the roads and crossings fit the type tract it is and the price you want to ask for it.
We have a 200 plus acre lakefront subdivision on the market that was developed from some rugged, cutover timberland. The owners spent hundreds of thousands
of dollars engineering and building asphalt roads with cement drainage and graded slopes. Everyone would agree that this would be necessary to use
the property for its intended purpose - residential development. Well, the same is true for a 200 acre cutover timberland tract that is best suited
for hunting and recreational use. No, we don’t need engineered asphalt roads with cement drains, but we do need open roads and trails for pickups and
four-wheelers and maybe plastic culverts in a few creek crossings.
Take a look at your tract. Can people get to all or most of it on roads and/or trails that are suitable for how the property is to be used? Don’t let this
intimidate you. This work is easy to do with the right equipment and operators. Dozers and track hoes operated by knowledgeable people can get a lot
done in less time than you think. Heck, we’ve even done some of this ourselves so it can’t be that bad.
Below is a short list of things we’ve done to properties, or hired out to be done, that are rural home site and hunting/timber tracts. These things made
a world of difference in the selling time and price:
1. Created woods roads with dozers. These roads ranged from being straight roads along boundary lines to curving trails meandering through large timber.
Sometimes we would crown and ditch the roads for better drainage and add a clay base and rock surface. This was to create solid, all-weather roads
for a home or camp site. Most roads, however, were not developed to this degree.
2. Installed culverts to create crossings over ditches and creeks. These culverts ranged from 10-inch diameter to 60-inch diameter. We installed two side
by side 60-inch culverts in one larger creek that moved a large volume of water in rainy weather.
3. Made trails with a dozer or tractor and bush-hog to be able to get to various parts of a property, deer stands, duck holes, etc. We always made a point
to create a trail that meandered along the edge of bayous and creeks so we could easily show people these pretty spots with a four-wheeler or UTV.
This is good marketing and added value to the property.
4. Installed metal bridges over creeks. These bridges were old tractor trailer beds that were dragged into place by a dozer.
5. Installed shallow water rock crossings in small and large creeks. A few loads of 5-6 inch rock were dumped into the creek. We moved the rock around
by a dozer to make a solid crossing even when up to a couple feet of water was running over it.
6. Installed gates at access points to make the property a little more secure and help keep people from dumping trash or joy-riding on the roads when they
7. Cleaned out main ditches with a track hoe to help the property drain better.
8. Cleared areas of small timber to create visibility from small ridges and hills down to creeks, sloughs or bayous. This is easily done with a dozer and
adds a lot of “wow factor” when you create pretty views on rural property.
9. Installed wells to maintain water levels in small lakes and ponds and to flood areas for ducks.
10. Built small lakes and larger ones up to about 40 acres.
11. Cleared areas for food plots and duck holes to support the wildlife habitat on hunting and recreational tracts. Here in the south, the late summer
is a good time to possibly be able to get a dozer or track hoe into sloughs and brakes to clear out underbrush, small trees and button willows to open
up a duck hole. This improvement done on the right properties can be a game changer for many buyers.
12. Installed metal pit blinds in shallow water areas.
13. Cleared small areas for a home site or camp. We would also build it up as needed to insure it was high enough to drain well.
14. Used chipping crews to cut pulpwood size and smaller trees out to open up the tract. They paid 50 cents per ton for it so the sellers made several
thousand dollars. This work would have been beneficial to the sellers even if they made nothing on the work due to the overall improvement it made
to their tract.
15. Used mulchers. Related to #14…on the day I’m writing this, I hired someone to run a mulcher to underbrush some property for home site use. This
will open the tract up so buyers can see how pretty their new home will look there!
16. Made small boat ramps.
17. Run water lines and electricity to the property and installed mechanical sewers. More about this in chapter five.
18. Built camps ranging from small metal buildings with no finishes to 5 bedroom camps with granite counter tops and cypress wall covering.
Improvements should accomplish two goals. First, it should fix any major issues that may keep buyers from wanting your property at the price it should
bring in your market. Consider issues like poor access, inaccessible acres cut off by creeks, bayous, canals, etc. Second, improvements should
add value and overall desirability that will cost less to do than it will bring you in a higher sales price or reduced time on the market. Consider
items like food plots, duck holes and blinds, pond, etc.
So ask yourself, what improvements can you do yourself or have done for an amount you can afford? Is it justifiable on your property? Little improvements
can sometimes make a big impact.