Many years ago, when I was growing up on a Central Illinois farm, my dad and I developed a herd of registered Aberdeen Angus cattle. Like most farm boys my age, I was in 4-H and F.F.A and devoted most of my summers to showing cattle at county fairs and the state fair. A lot of time and preparation was required to get the cattle “show ring” ready for the fairs. Cattle were fed a special diet to be in peak condition and to get the “perfect” coat of hair. In addition, many hours were spent training cattle to lead and respond to a halter (not an easy task). Then, on the day of the show, each animal was washed and prepped for competition (even using black shoe polish on their hooves.) Attention to detail was crucial. After all, a minor miscue could affect the cattle judge’s decision. Our success in the show ring wasn’t immediate, but as we gained experience and knowledge, our cattle became winners. And, preparing the property to be “show ring” ready is essential to getting top dollar.
A while back, a couple made an appointment with me to sell their 80-acre farm. When I arrived at their farm, I was immediately impressed. It began when I turned off of the county road and onto the lane to their home. The private white-rocked driveway contrasted with the grass fields, presenting a pleasing entrance to the farm. As I approached the house and buildings, I knew I was about to meet owners who had pride in their ownership. This property was “show ring” ready.
The couple and I sat at the kitchen table and visited. They told me they were in their 70s and moving to another part of the state. The property had previously been listed, but no one had even looked. The previous agent had relied only on the sign, newspaper ads, and the MLS to market their property.
We talked for nearly an hour about their property and what they wanted to do. Our conversation then turned to selling it. I showed examples of my experience with selling similar properties. Then, I outlined a land marketing program that could find that unique buyer who would pay top dollar. They assured me that their property would be “show ring” ready when I found that buyer. We signed the agreement, and I began working.
During the following weeks, I stopped by to review each phase of our marketing plan. They knew I was doing my job, and I knew they were doing theirs. The lawn, fence rows, roadsides, and the grass around the pond were all mowed and trimmed. All equipment and tools were stored out of sight. The pasture gates swung freely, and the fences were straight. The old barns were painted, and the doors were hinged and closed. Each room in the home was tastefully decorated, and the basement was free of clutter.
Then, one hot summer day, a prospective buyer called after seeing pictures, maps, and the description on the www.leonmllerco.com website. He asked if the property looked as good as the pictures on the website. I said, “Even better!” He said that he and his wife were going to look at a couple of properties the next day and asked if they could see this one. I called the sellers, and they were ready!
The next afternoon, I saw a car turn into the driveway and slowly approach the home. By the way they were driving, I could tell that the couple was as impressed as I had been the first time I saw the property. The next day, they signed a contract to purchase. The sellers were very pleased with the offer, and the sale closed 45 days later. My marketing found the buyer, and the sellers’ attention to details had the property “show ring” ready. The property sold itself.
Not all properties require this much work, and not all sellers are able to do as much as these sellers. In some situations, just mowing the roadsides is enough. Attention to this one detail could affect a buyer’s decision.
Now, there are those sellers who say they don’t have the time nor see the need to clean up the property. The reason is that a buyer will see the property’s “potential” and pay top dollar. How often does that happen? Even the best land marketing program has difficulty overcoming brushy roadsides, broken gates, and unsightly junk piles.
When A seller asks me what he should do to his property that would sway a buyer to pay top dollar. I tell them, “Show your property like you’re proud to own it, and your buyer will be proud to own it too.”