Real Estate: Buying, Selling land in Georgia
By JESS BARRON, Lindsey’s Inc. Realtors
With fall here, I thought I would write about buying and selling land in Georgia. Fall is often regarded as the best time to sell land and acreage. The temperatures are cooler, it is easier to see the entire property with the leaves falling and there are less bugs and snakes.
The process of buying and selling land is completely different than a residential transaction. The list price for land and acreage is typically calculated at a price per acre. The value for the land is determined by factors such as location, topography, water features, quality of soil, timber value, road frontage, internal road systems, structures and/or improvements, uses for the land, comparable sales, etc.
It is very important to have a quality survey of the property when selling or buying land. You need to know exactly what you are selling or buying. When a property’s value is calculated on a per acre basis, a small difference in acreage can make a huge impact on a sales price. If a survey is not provided, you can ask the seller to provide one or have someone complete a survey for you. Newnan and Coweta County have a great group of local surveyors. I would not recommend buying or selling a property without a survey as there can be disputes about boundaries and encroachments from adjacent properties.
Sellers often will cut the timber off a property before selling it to cash in on the value of the timber. I would not recommend this as cutting the timber leaves the land looking barren and rough. You want to dress up acreage, like you would a house or car before selling it. This can be as simple as bush hogging a field or as complicated as adding a pond to make the property more desirable.
Thinning is a good idea to help a land tract show better. Thinning is the calculated removal of certain trees with a specific objective in mind (gfc.state.ga.us). This process is beneficial to the overall health of trees on the property also. For example, thinning an area of dead or diseased trees will allow a property to show better. The Georgia Forestry Commission is a great resource for questions about timber.
If you plan to build a home or structure on some land, I would highly recommend having a soil or “perc test” completed during a due diligence period. Percolation tests measure the water absorption rate of soil. This will help to determine if you can put a septic tank and drain field on the property. The Coweta County Health Department can provide perc tests, as well as local soil scientists.
It is not a bad idea to have a soil test, along with a topographic report, completed before you list a property so the prospective buyers know where they can build a home. A topographic report is a detailed map of the surface features of the land. This includes mountains, hills, creeks, valleys, etc. on a particular property.
I hope you are able to enjoy being outside this fall. Walking and showing land is one of my favorite parts of my job!
Jess Barron is an Associate Broker with Lindseys, Inc. Realtors and former President of the Newnan-Coweta Board of Realtors.