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Selling Rural Real Estate Goes Much Beyond the Presumptions

Real Estate Agent with Dirt Road Real Estate SA676002000

Funny thing about rural real estate, not everyone knows the differences, but some agents think they do. A recent posting in a Facebook group by Active Rain Member Candice A. Donofrio highlighted why not everyone should be selling rural real estate.

“(cited property) has been on the market for awhile, Can you provide insight into whether the extended listing duration is related to the water allocation issue?”

When reading this and knowing the property is vacant land, the agent who sent this correspondence to Candice doesn’t know vacant land does not necessarily sell quickly. On average, here in rural Mohave County, AZ vacant land averages between one and two years. Yes there are always exceptions. Also this real estate agent and REALTOR may not have read the listing and is making presumptions about the water allocation.

There is a difference between water allocation and paid water allocation. Depending upon the area and the listing agent, sometimes even the agent doesn’t know because the agent has not undertaken his or her due diligence. Of course with Candice, she knew because she knows the market and does her due diligence.

Here in Golden Valley, AZ we have water allocation (upaid) and water allocation (paid). With water allocation there may be additional costs such as an extension from the main water line to the property. This extension may be several hundred feet or more. Add in the cost of the water meter and the water allocation paid or unpaid becomes even more expensive. Finally, if the main water line is under a paved street, there is a cost to repave the street at the owner’s expense. NOTE: Golden Valley has 4 rural water companies each with different costs. The dividing lines between two of them are not uniform.

I found the second part of this correspondence equally amusing as I have had similar requests.

“Additionally, my buyer is eager to make an offer. Could you please inform me if the seller has declined any offers? Furthermore, I would appreciate any information regarding the seller’s flexibility regarding the listing price.”

First, unless the seller has given directions to the listing agent answering such requests may be in violation of the seller’s directions. If the buyer’s agent had undertaken his or her due diligence, he or she would have known if the property is competitively priced. And why would any listing agent respond to a question that would potentially provide a negotiating advantage to the buyer? The Code of Ethics states in Article One "Protect and Promote." Sharing such information does not protect nor promote the seller's interests.

I have had similar requests. And my response is “Make an offer.”

The presumptions regarding rural real estate are not only about water allocation. For example, numerous listing agents do not know the difference between rural water and city water.   Another dangerous and costly presumption is the availability of power and often power is not the power pole with the transformer across the street.

Operating outside of one’s area of competence seems to be an ever-increasing issue. Selling rural dirt be it unimproved or improved is not for everyone and especially not for the the faint of heart who want quick and easy real estate sales.

P.S. Please if you are a seller of vacant land or a buyer of vacant land, interview several local real estate agents and learn of their experiences about selling "dirt."

Feature Photo Courtesy of Leanne M Smith of a 2 acre parcel for sale with septic installed, power pole (needs new meter) and on water haul off historic Route 66.

Any reproduction of Leanne M Smith’s blog for use by any AI or GAI, distribution or reproduction including but not limited to electronic newsletters e.g. PDF’s Internet sites or physical products e.g. newspapers, CDs without prior written permission and consent by me, Leanne M. Smith (Leanne Hoagland-Smith) is strictly prohibited.


Posted by

Leanne M. Smith, MS, GRI, rCRMS

2018 KGVAR Rookie Realtor of the Year-55+
219.508.2859 MST
Life Begins Where the Pavement Ends
Connect with me on LinkedIn:
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

Right on, all spot on!  Land carries lots of liability ('lots' of LOL) bc well, under all is the land. And if it can't be used as intended, that's a problem! 

In (BHC) City limits, the water allocations are assigned as part of the building permitting process . . . different from our unincorporated areas . . . 

Another thing a former (fired) client learned the hard way . . . if you've purchased water allocations for a subdivision, and you DON'T DEVELOP IT over a long period of time . . . they can be lost! The client kept asking for extensions and extensions and finally County and MVIDD threw up their hands (after like 10 years!) and they lost over 300k in water allocations . . . water is gold in the great state of AZ . . .

Apr 18, 2024 09:15 AM
Leanne Smith

Thank you for adding to this discussion.  Yes water is gold.

Apr 18, 2024 09:19 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Leanne, it's interesting when I find myself with clients interested in soomething that is new to me, whether it's a type of property or a location that I don't normally deal with. And I feel so lucky to have met some amazing agents, both helpful and patient, who helped my create some successful transactions. Waterfront property in Annapolis is sort of our equivalent to vacant land in your part of the world!

Apr 18, 2024 09:49 AM
Leanne Smith

Yes making those connections with other knowledgeable agents is indeed a blessing and one of the benefits of being a member here on Active Rain.

Funny thing you mentioned water front property. When I first started living here I heard people "being on water."  I knew there wasn't any streams, rivers or lakes here in Golden Valley, so I asked a new friend "On water? What does that means since there are no streams, rivers or lakes here in Golden Valley?" The response was "on piped in water from one of the local 4 water companies."

Apr 18, 2024 09:52 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Leanne - assumptions can lead to hasty conclusions.  And often those are wrong or at least not close to telling the entire story.  Who among us can ever forget the spelling lesson of assume?  Hmm. . .  

Apr 18, 2024 11:28 AM
Leanne Smith

I wonder how many younger people would actually understand that spelling lesson of assume? You are correct Michael Jacobs much like assuming a wash on vacant land means it is in a flood plain and a parcel without a wash is not in a flood plain.

Apr 18, 2024 12:41 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services


Hello Miss Leanne Smith - why people (we know it is profit-driven) do not stay in their own lane, and why buyers and sellers do not adequately vet the agent this hire escapes me.  This profession is not one size fits all; we are not all created equal in knowledge, experience, and education. Hire the wrong person and expect not to get the desired results. 

Apr 18, 2024 12:27 PM
Leanne Smith

Yes greed is not good for real estate buyers or sellers who hire non-local agents or less than experienced ones. You are correct one size does not fit all and each transaction only reaffirms the uniqueness of human beings.

Apr 18, 2024 12:42 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Water rights and water shares are two different things altogether and experienced agents know that while some pretend they are knowledgable in selling land. Your post is very spot on and appreciated, Leanne!

Apr 18, 2024 06:05 PM
Leanne Smith

So true and there are numerous agents who pretend to know these differences.  I can usually tell when a listing in a rural area states "city water."

Apr 19, 2024 04:24 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Leanne Smith  I am so with you on this post, I keep telling my clients, potential clients two to three years to sell these properties and they are having a hard time coming to terms with that.... then I tell them it is 26+ years of experience speaking...Endre

Apr 18, 2024 09:34 PM
Leanne Smith

Each property speaks to a potential buyer.  Finally the vacant land will speak the loudest to one or several buyers who actually make the offer.

Apr 19, 2024 04:25 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

We can usually tell right away whether people are familiar with the area or not, haha.

Apr 19, 2024 05:34 AM
Leanne Smith

So true Brian England and good morning to you.

Apr 19, 2024 06:34 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Leanne,
By now, we should have ceased being amazed by the incompetence (and ignorance) of so many agents. What is so hard about saying, "That is not my area of expertise, but I know an agent who can do a great job for you?"

Apr 19, 2024 10:39 AM
Leanne Smith

Well greed appears to be alive and well. So sad. And maybe it is a lack of self-esteem, people don't want to acknowledge they don't know what they don't know.

Apr 19, 2024 10:43 AM