Q: Several years ago my husband and I purchased a vacant lot for $11,000 in a lake/golf community more for investment than planning to build.
We’re recently “retired” due to job cuts and not because it was our choice. We do not want to be stuck with the continuing payments for the property taxes and required monthly assessments due to the community association. Together these expenses total about $2,000 a year.
It may not sound like much, but we need to get rid of that expense. Only three wooded lots sold last year in this huge development and only for around $5,000 each. Our lot has been on the market with an agent for a year. What should we do?
A: In some ways your situation is similar to owners of timeshare developments. They own something that they no longer want to use and don’t want to continue to pay the expenses associated with the ownership of the property. And worse, they find that the market is quite limited and can’t resell the timeshares.
At least with a timeshare development, you can use the time you have purchased or have other people use the time available to you. In your case, you can’t use the land. It truly is an investment that may not have a future unless you think that lots in that community will recover someday and increase in value.
From the tone of your question, it sounds as though you’ve pretty much given up on keeping the lot. You didn’t indicate how many other lots are for sale in the development, but it sounds as though the development is huge so I’m assuming a lot of the properties are for sale.
Is your lot one of the better lots in your huge development? If it isn’t and there are many other lots available, you may only be able to compete with other sellers on price. Unfortunately that means that your only way to get your lot sold is to lower the price to where you can entice other buyers to come in and buy.
If the market is horrible for lots in your development, you may be better off waiting a year or two until you are able to sell it at a higher price. You can only gauge whether you benefit at holding on to the lot for a year or two at a cost of $2,000 to $4,000 versus selling it now for less than $5,000.
Make sure that your real estate agent has your lot listed in the multiple listing service of the community in which the lot is located and that he or she is marketing the lot for sale. You may also want to know if your real estate agent has your property included with other marketing materials for properties with that office. The more exposure you get for your lot, the better off you’ll be.
In some situations, you may want to approach the community association and see if they or any of their members are looking for a lot to purchase. While it might be a long shot, some community associations might be willing to pay a minimal amount for your lot with the idea that they can turn a profit on that lot over the long term.
The best you can do in your circumstance is to make sure your lot is marketing on the internet, through your golf association, with your real estate agent and through print media.
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