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If you’re looking to buy recreational land for sale, it’s important to know that it isn’t the same as hiring a Realtor® to help you buy a house.

In fact, being an expert in recreational property sales requires years of specific experience, along with a completely different skill set from knowing how to help people buy or sell homes.

In north Idaho’s Latah County, where we sell properties, we have to be ready to answer all kinds of specific questions from recreational land buyers: Can I build a cabin on the property? Will I have access issues in the winter? What’s the quality of the wildlife on the land? How do I get power to the site? What’s involved in installing a sewage disposal system? Will there be access to water?

As the pandemic wears on, we are seeing more and more demand for recreational property – not just from local residents, but also from urbanites from states like California and Washington that want to “recreationally distance” in Idaho. Many of these buyers are new to recreational land buying, so it’s important to have the patience to explain all the facets of buying a rural property, while listening so you can understand their needs.

With this in mind, as you think about who should help you buy a recreational property, think about these five ways that an expert in recreational land sales can help you during your buying experience:

1. Make sure the agent has experience in selling recreational property.
There is no substitute for having handled scores of recreational land transactions, because there are specifics about the sale that differ from a residential home purchase, such as access to water sources or the quality of timber on a property.

2. If you’re a sportsman, consider working with an agent who shares your interests.

It’s helpful to work with an agent who loves to hunt or fish, so they know how to assess the quality of the wildlife on a property, and how to know whether a tract is a good hunting property, looking for attributes like food sources, water on the property, and the prevalence of ground cover.

3. Working with an agent who has deep local knowledge will be a major bonus.
Properties can vary widely, even within a few miles of each other, so it’s important to rely on someone who knows about the exact area where you’re considering a purchase. This also saves time for the buyer, since a qualified agent will know quickly where to focus the land search.

4. Determining comparable sales for recreational properties is a different process and can be challenging at times, so experience is critical in deciding what you should pay for a property.
It can be fairly simple to match up homes in a residential neighborhood. But figuring out comparable values for recreational properties is often more complicated, and requires experience in working with rural real estate, bringing all of your knowledge to bear.

If there haven’t been any comparable sales in a certain area for a while, the agent will need to look further back in time while also assessing sales of similar tracts in other areas of the county.

5. Many buyers only make one land purchase in their lifetime, so there are often many questions and buyer concerns.
So be sure to work with someone who has both the knowledge and patience to answer all of your questions. As we sell to first-time recreational buyers, we make sure to tell them up front that there is no such thing as a dumb question.

Written by Sean Wilson, designated broker with Latah Realty in Moscow, Idaho, part of the PotlatchDeltic Preferred Broker Network.