How to sell your land

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What does Sims Williams do when we receive an enquiry about valuing a piece of land, and what process is involved in selling land? In this week’s blog we aim to answer these two main questions, starting with a case study example:

We were approached by someone that owned a house which is situated on a 2.5acre plot. They had noticed that a number of properties in their location had sold off some of their land to local developers and wanted to find out more information about the process and if this would be a suitable option for them too.

One of the primary questions we are asked in this situation is ‘how much is my land worth’? The honest answer is “as much as someone is willing to pay for it”. The key thing to remember is that when it comes to selling a physical property versus selling a piece of land to a developer, the transaction is very different. Buying a property to live in, naturally, is a lot more emotive and directly impacts the valuation in comparison to a developer who will consult a spreadsheet and focus on the actuals.

What process does Sims Williams follow when managing a land sale?

In terms of the process and how Sims Williams will act once receiving the call from the land owner, first of all we will do a site visit and hold an initial consultation. This will involve: gathering information about the landowners requirements, explain the timescales involved in  that land sale transaction process, and elements such as obtaining planning permission are much longer than standard property transactions. Generally speaking, you’re looking at 18month, 2-5 year period from start to finish. If someone is looking to sell land, and do it quickly, it can be challenging because it is not a process that can be rushed. 

Right from the start we will always be honest and provide accurate information to allow you to make informed decisions that are right for your situation.

Following this initial site visit and meeting, we meet with our trusted planning consultant to hear their professional opinion on the likelihood – or otherwise – of getting planning. In this instance, because of the current developments going on in the location in question, we believed that there was a strong chance that the planning for development would be considered favourably. Once we gain insight from the planning consultant, the next step in the process is to search for several potential suitors for the land. We look for developers that are already active in the area, and who are looking to build the types of property that fit the area. It’s important to us to consider the impact that any development will have on the local areas.

It is at this point in the process that the landowner signs up with us and signs a land disposal agreement. This gives us permission to take their land to market and carry out a selective marketing campaign. We handle land sales differently – we speak to a selected few potential developers about the land in question rather than scatter-gunning it to the whole market. We speak on average to half a dozen developers in detail about their views on the land and how they would use it. Each developer will then put together a scheme to explain in detail about their proposed plans for the land, including a breakdown of the number, type and size of houses that would be built. 

Next, we sit down with the developers and discuss the potential gross development value of the houses. This is the figure that, once the houses are built, they will sell for and so this is the figure that we then work backwards from to decide on the value of the land and ultimately what it should be sold for. 

In this particular case study, the landowner was heavily involved throughout the whole process. They viewed their land as their legacy and wanted to make sure it was going to be used in a way that they were happy with. We introduced the landowner to the developers, walked through each development proposal in detail and a decision was made – the developer was chosen. 

As a matter of course, we make sure that once an agreement and Heads of Terms have been reached with the solicitors, and the two parties have been tied in together for a period of time, we will make sure that we regularly communicate with all parties involved to see what’s going on and keep the landowner informed. The last step in this process is ultimately when the planning permission is obtained, the land is sold and the development will then go ahead.

How do we arrive at a specific value?

When working out the value of a land we have to consider the following: 

What could be built on it

What could they sell for

What would the cost of building those properties be, including the percentage of the developers profit

The remaining balance is effectively the value of the land

A developer needs to take away certain costs to be able to work out a reasonable price that they will be willing to pay for the land. They include the cost of obtaining planning permission and all of the costs associated with carrying out specialist reports and surveys such as ground and water testing or ecology reports. If any anomaly results are found as a result of these investigations and require further expense, such as a need to use piled foundations instead, the developer will need to take this into account when calculating a valuation. 

In addition to the costs that come with obtaining planning permission, there are two large sums of money that need to be paid to any local authority when developing a site. These are: Section 106 Agreement, which covers local authority payments which assists with highways. The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which goes towards contributing and improving local infrastructure alongside future developments.

We previously mentioned timescales; land transactions can take anywhere between 18 months to 5 years, give or take. It is therefore important to consider that the land value which is agreed on is based on today’s prices is subject to change. Hopefully, house prices will go up over the next 18 months – 5 years so we need to build in an overage to account for this if the property prices go up by a certain percentage, the value that is paid for the land can go up by a set percentage as well. 

We hope that this has given you some insight into what’s involved in this area of our industry and you feel better informed. There is a lot of property development currently going on across our patches of business and we want you to feel supported and informed. Whether it’s to arrange a valuation for sale or friendly advice on any aspect of selling land, do please get in touch.

Sims Williams are estate and letting agents with offices in Arundel, Bognor Regis, Chichester and The Six Villages. For expert advice on all things property or for a free no obligation market appraisal, do contact your local Sims Williams office. We are here to guide you through every step of your journey, providing professional advice, support and guidance you can trust. 


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What our clients say


My family and I received a very good service from Sims Williams regarding selling our properties. I was very impressed by the thoroughness and hard work the whole team put in to help us.

Excellent Service

I just wanted to thank you and your team for all your help and patience in dealing with the sale of Jasmine Bungalow which will hopefully complete next week. Karen and Calum especially have been excellent to deal with in the current sale which I’m sure wasn’t easy for them at times. But their help and patience made the frustrations much easier to cope with! And I also wanted to thank Michael too for his assistance, advice and patience in dealing with the first abortive sale.
Ms Rawson - Vendor - Jun 8th, 2021


The service I had from the staff in Sims Williams Walberton office was exceptional. They guided me through the whole process from preparing the house for marketing to concluding the sale. A very smooth, quick and trouble-free sale. Thank you to everyone involved.
Bill H - Vendor - Sep 14th, 2020

Very helpful and efficient agents

We are really pleased with the service we received from Sims Chichester office. David and the team are very helpful and friendly. Everything went through smoothly and we are happy in our new home.
Toni & Shaun - Tenants - May 28th, 2021

Brilliant Service

I just wanted to let you know how impressed I have been with the efficient, friendly and tenacious service that Megan has given us in supporting the sale of 8 Shippam Street, which as you may well know has been over year in securing (through no fault of Sims Williams). I should also add that both Calum and Mel have been brilliant, with very efficient handovers and leave covering when needed.
Andy - Vendor - Apr 5th, 2022

Fantastic Service

The team were fantastic from start to finish, efficient, always letting me know updates, kept pushing the completion right to exchange! Great staff, friendly and would 100 percent recommend Sims Williams.
Nikki - Vendor - Apr 6th, 2022

The fastest ever

What an amazing experience from initial valuation through viewings to selling/buying and moved in a smidge over five weeks, professional and supportive throughout, would heartily recommend, many thanks.
Rich & Yvonne - Vendor - Mar 31st, 2021

Exceptional service

John Wyatt has been brilliant throughout. Nothing has been too much trouble and his experience and guidance have been invaluable. About as good as it gets !
Ivens - Buyer - Jun 25th, 2021

Amazing - 5*

The staff at Sims Williams have been beyond kind and helpful. It’s been a pleasure to deal with them. Thank you.

Excellent Service!

We recently completed on a property in Bognor Regis and bought it through Simms Williams. I have to say the service was excellent from the office staff but mainly from our main contact there Susie Jones. We probably drove her mad with all the questions, extra viewings but she was always there to answer them and do everything she could to help the sale go smoothly. Excellent service, well done Susie.
Noeleen- Buyer - Nov 25th, 2023