When a landowner is looking to sell his or her land, the goal is to appeal to the right buyer and settle on an agreeable price. However, understanding the market for a piece of land isn't always easy, and the steps that sellers take to improve their property may or may not increase the overall sale price.
On the other hand, the one improvement that typically contributes greatly to a property's value is a good road system. The simple truth is that if a property is difficult to access or traverse, it will not be as appealing to potential buyers.
Nathan McCollum, qualifying broker at Mossy Oak Properties Southeast Land & Wildlife in Tuscumbia, Alabama, noted a well-designed road system is a matter of safety, cost efficiency and increased value.
"A well-designed road system will improve the overall price of the property (value added practice), improve hunting success, decrease sale time, decrease wear and tear on equipment, make the property safer and help with fire control," said McCollum.
The more roads a property has, the easier it is for landowners and prospective buyers to move around. Roads can also double as fire breaks, reducing risk and liability during controlled burns or in the event of a wildfire. In addition, cars, trucks, ATVs and farming equipment won't break down as much because they will be driving on quality roads rather than on rough trails.
In the case of selling land, landowners must take into consideration how buyers intend to use the property. For instance, some are interested in land for its recreational purposes while others are focused more on agricultural investments. In either case, a good road system can increase travel access and benefit multiple types of buyers.
"For recreational purposes, access to all points of the property are critical in getting a top price," McCollum noted. "Recreational buyers like to have lots of roads, whether it be for hunting, ATV riding, walking, horse riding, etc. More roads give the landowner the ability to move around the property in a way that makes the property feel larger than it is."
Knowing the value of the property upfront
When factoring in a road system, the key to making a sale is the layout of the land and how well potential buyers are able to inspect the land before they make a final purchasing decision.
"Buyers have to be able to see what they're getting," said McCollum. "Uncertainty in the purchase benefits no one. Timber investment buyers like to see fewer, but higher-quality roads that allow access to the property during wetter periods of the year. More roads equals fewer timbered acres."
To ensure they are getting what they wish to pay for, buyers should be able to drive around the property first. This is only manageable if a good road system is in place beforehand. And by making an investment in designing new roads, landowners can effectively increase the value of their land, thus raising the listing price.
Avoiding problems with the sale
If a prospective buyer sees that roads on the property on not in working condition, then they may fear their equipment breaking down or the future costs of fixing up the roads themselv