Selling a Farm Has Its Own Unique Challenges & You Need an Experienced Real Estate Agent
Whether you’re getting ready to sell your hobby farm, a sprawling ranch, an equestrian property, a rural estate, or other unique property, it’s absolutely essential that you work with an experienced real estate agent who specializes in your specific type of property.
There are a unique set of considerations that go into selling a farm property, and REALTOR® Cathy Torgerson and REALTOR® Vickie Jennings of Windermere Professional Partners both bring a wealth of knowledge and several years of experience to better serve their clients.
At the end of 2020, Cathy and Vickie sold this incredible 30-acre mountain view estate in Eatonville for $1,150,000. This extraordinary property includes 2 homes, two 4-car garages, a 6-stall horse barn, 3 paddocks, 15-ton hay storage, income-producing hay fields, a fenced horse pasture, a wellhouse, a 5-vehicle Implement Building, plus covered parking for 12+ vehicles. Keep reading for a behind-the-scenes look at how Vickie and Cathy prepared this property for the market, helped show off this home in its best light, helped their sellers (and the buyers) navigate some tricky situations, and finally take this home to the finish line with a successful closing!
Unique Considerations in Preparing this 30-Acre Property for Sale
Vickie was contacted well in advance that the sellers were considering selling their 30-acre farm. To assess the property to see what might need to be done to prepare it to sell, Vickie did 3-4 walk-throughs with the owners. Vickie has years of farming experience with dairy, hay, oats, horses and cattle, and has a thorough understanding of what to look for. A property of this size has many things to be considered. Not only the house (and in this case 2 homes) needs to be ready, but the outbuildings, barns, and the rest of the property need to be considered as well.
This property also had some added complexity—the 2 homes in this case also meant 2 septic systems and 2 wells. One of the houses was an old cabin that was there from the original homestead, and while it is a really neat building, the health department wouldn’t recognize it as having a working septic system. (Since the buyer would be getting financing to purchase the home, the seller needed to pay to have the tank decommissioned and the buyer would need to agree that the second house was actually just an outbuilding.)
Another important consideration was the fact that this was also an agricultural property due to its income-producing hay field. Properties with an agricultural status get a certain tax classification for their property taxes (i.e. they get a tax break!), but buyers have to agree to take on the status and show that they’re doing something agricultural with the property. If they don’t maintain the status, they have to pay back taxes, and of course all of this depends on the county you’re in, etc. It’s incredibly important to have clarity on all of this information, as it can have a big impact on your finances and the responsibility that you take on in the future.
In addition to sorting out these issues, there’s also the actual prep work. The outbuildings, garage, and barn all needed a good refresh—Vickie and Cathy always advise that barns are completely cleaned and blown out, and there needs to be fresh shavings or straw so everything smells and looks as good as possible! Generally, buyers who are searching for a property with amenities care deeply for their animals, so it’s essential to appeal not just to the human needs, but to their pet’s needs as well.
The main house was in great condition, and it just needed a thorough cleaning and some light staging. There was a special area for the sellers’ dogs downstairs (they had 4 big Mastiffs!), so Vickie and Cathy took extra care to make sure that area was clean and fresh. Then, it was time to assess the staging situation. In this case, the seller had a great handle on the furniture and decorations, and for situations like this, de-personalizing some of the decor was all that was needed.
Marketing this 30-Acre Farm Property
Vickie and Cathy have professional photos taken of all of their listings, and this home was no different. Especially with a dynamic property like this one, they take extra care to plan out what type of photos and drone shots they’ll need, as well as what to show in the video tour. They also make sure they’re there with the photographer to ensure that the right photos are being taken and everything looks fabulous.
They also put together a feature sheet and a map where all of the details of the property are outlined, so when a buyer comes to visit the property they can walk away with a nice brochure and have a clear understanding of what’s included. And of course, they share the property with their audiences on Facebook and Instagram, too.
Listing & Showing this Eatonville Farm
This property wasn’t listed until the sellers bought their next home, giving them a place to move to. (Luckily they were able to purchase their next home non-contingent—ask Cathy and Vickie about options for buying non-contingent!)The sellers also needed time to move—it takes a lot of work and planning to move a farm!
Once the property was officially listed, Vickie and Cathy made sure that they were present for all of the showings. With a property this complex, they don’t believe it’s in their sellers’ best interest to just send a buyer’s agent out to a property without being there to guide them. This property also had horses and 4 dogs that all needed to be contained during showings, so Vickie and Cathy wanted to be certain that the property was totally ready every time a new prospective buyer came to tour the property.
It was also important that buyer’s agents knew that they would need a minimum of 2 hours per showing due to the size and complexity of the property; many agents who came to see the property weren’t from the area, and only booked 30-minute showings. Half an hour is just not enough time to see this property! During COVID-19, Vickie and Cathy saw a lot of agents coming to areas like Eatonville representing buyers from Seattle/Bellevue, and they didn’t have much familiarity with the area. Vickie and Cathy also quickly realized that many of these agents needed to be reminded to bring boots so they’d be ready to walk through fields, pastures, paddocks and wooded areas.
Within the first few days of being listed, there was immediate activity and interest in the property. However, a unique property like this can take awhile to find just the right buyer. It ultimately took 88 days to officially sell this property, and navigating the multiple offers and steering this sale to the finish line took some extra finessing!
Vickie and Cathy received 3 offers for the property. They helped their seller look at ALL of the terms—not just the price. They considered who the lender was, what the financing terms were, as well as closing dates. And with every lender, Vickie and Cathy had to make sure they understood the complexities of loaning on a property with more than one parcel and multiple buildings.
Once the sellers had chosen an offer to accept, there were some additional challenges. The buyer’s agent had never once set foot on the property (they had sent their junior agent), and the junior agent needed some extra guidance from Vickie and Cathy. They had to deal with the second septic system (it took extra time to get the health department’s Report of System Status (RSS)), some issues with the well, and more. And then there were some challenges with the lender; Vickie and Cathy needed to do some extra, proactive legwork to make sure that the sale stayed on track.
When it was time for an appraisal, Vickie met with the appraiser and provided them with a packet of information, including comps. Finding comparables for this particular property was a challenge—there aren’t 3 sold properties in the area that quite matched this unique property. Nonetheless, Vickie was prepared as possible and made sure that the appraiser had all of the information that was available, personally showing the appraiser all of the buildings and walking the acreage. She finds this helps build value when fully experiencing the entire property. They ended up getting a great appraisal, and it was a huge win!
There were so many moving pieces to this sale, and Vickie and Cathy were totally hands-on and there for their sellers every step of the way. They aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to work, and it really pays off for their clients!
Are you interested in selling your property? REALTOR® Cathy Torgerson and REALTOR® Vickie Jennings are happy to chat!
Here are the different ways to reach them:
REALTOR® Vickie Jennings
- Vickie Jennings on Facebook
- Vickie Jennings on Instagram
REALTOR® Cathy Torgerson