What About This?

By Wayne William Cipriano

We got an interesting piece of mail a while ago. A company called, judging by their letterhead, CASH DEALS for LAND, L.L.C. (CDL) offered to buy a portion of our ranch.

I don’t know a lot about this deal. I don’t know why that company chose to send us an offer. We certainly are not interested in selling our ranch or any part of it. We were thinking that CDL peppered the county with these offers.

I know the information about who owns what land and how much, and even, in some cases, how much they paid for the land, is all public knowledge and available to anyone interested in the public records.

Along with the offer to purchase were several requirements that CDL mandated before a sale would be entertained by them such as clear title, road frontage, and so on including a general requirement that would let CDL slide out of any promise to purchase until the papers were signed. 

Then there was the cash offer accompanying a suggestion that any sale once initiated could be completed very quickly.

As we all know, real estate can be sold quickly, but that is very seldom the case. Some people involved in the actual transfer of work operate on a fee-per-hour basis, and speed doesn’t make them much money. I have noticed over the last few years that speed of transfer of real estate has become a major component of many potential real estate sales, so it may be that real estate sales taking an abundant amount of time to make them seem really important I guess, is being challenged.

Anyway, besides the three most important aspects of any piece of real estate (location, location, location) and the other thing that can’t be changed (size), the really big consideration is price. You might have to add along with price, the financing, but that’s just price spread out over time.

So, the location (location, location) of our ranch, and the size of the piece of land CDL was asking about are immutable. (I guess you could sell a part of the piece they wanted or convince a neighbor to add some of their land to that piece to make it bigger, but the piece they wanted can’t be stretched or shrunk). The price is, as always, the thing that can and usually does shift all over the place. And the price they offered us was very surprising.

The land is unimproved forest. Well, not totally unimproved. We went through it over a decade ago, cutting down a lot of poor trees trying to encourage the walnuts to grow larger and faster. But that’s it.

Of course, there is no way, other than aerial photographs in record’s offices open to the public, as well as found on the internet, for CDL to know whether this parcel is in trees, grass, crops, and so on. And so, based on what I think is startlingly little information, CDL made a cash offer. 

I’m sure you are not surprised that the cash offer was what I consider to be about 30% of what the land is worth, based on what I have seen and heard about land values around here. And don’t forget, NONE of us ever know what our land is really worth, remembering what we paid for it way back when.

I imagine if we showed some interest in the offer, CDL would consider their offer near that which we would take. We could ask for more, of course, even much more, and then the negotiation would begin.

I was very interested to know how CDL arrived at that specific offer for that specific parcel without ever seeing it, particularly as it was so low, so I called the company intending to ask that, as well as how much they would really pay.

The person who answered my call did not give me any information but said someone would call me back. And someone did!

The very next day a guy from CDL called me and said, “One of my associates said you called yesterday and accepted our offer to buy your land.”

Needless to say, I was taken aback and replied, “No. I called to ask how your company had determined the price offered to me.” The guy appeared confused by my statement, so I had to ask about how they had calculated the price they were offering for our land several times in several different ways. I couldn’t tell if he was stalling or just did not understand what I was asking. At any rate, he said he would look into it and call me back with the information.

That was quite a while ago, so I called once more. Now, I was becoming interested in CDL. Was it some fly-by-night boiler room operation looking to, at best, snatch property at ridiculously low prices, sell at quick profits to anyone and get out of Dodge? Survey the area for real estate companies, searching for desperate property owners needing cash? Or some even more nefarious purposes? The more I thought about it, the more questions I wanted to ask. But, again, the CDL telephone answerer had no information, but took my name and number and promised a quick call back.

I’m still waiting for the quick call back with somewhat diminished expectations-but it could happen, right?

I’ll keep you posted.