Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Watch for lowball property offers


April 27, 2023

If you own vacant property in Crook County, you may have received a letter from a real estate company offering to purchase it from you.

County Assessor Dan Thomas shares a key piece of information about these letters: the price at which they offer to purchase your land is not based on information provided by his office.

This is important for property owners to know because the price you are offered may be significantly lower than what your property would be appraised for.

“Mailing addresses are public information,” he explains. “On our website, anybody can go on there and see what type of land somebody might own and, of course, what their mailing address is.”

An individual or company can also contact an assessor’s office to request property records, which are public information. The office is required to respond within a certain amount of time.

A public records request may ask, for example, for the names and addresses of owners of all vacant property in the county.

However, sell prices are protected because the Wyoming is a nondisclosure state. An assessor’s office will never release that information to a third party, not even in response to a records request.

The offer price included in such letters is therefore not based on any knowledge of what you may have purchased that property for. It’s likely based on estimates, which can be obtained through websites such as Zillow.

In other words, the offer price is not representative of any true appraisal of your land.

It’s not a scam, but the offers are almost always lower than the land would sell for through a reputable realtor. The number might look more reasonable than it really is, especially if you’ve owned the land for a long period of time and inflation has taken its toll – and particularly in the current housing market.

This isn’t the first time county residents have received offer letters, but it’s the first widespread example that the Assessor’s Office is aware of since Crook County entered a property sales boom during the pandemic.

“We have heard about this before in the past. I think last year there was a company that had done a few different properties, but not quite as dramatic as it is now – it seems like everybody who has vacant land is getting some sort of letter in the mail about someone wanting to buy their property,” Thomas says.

“[Companies of this nature are] trying to make quick money and they are taking advantage of the reasons that people want to live here and that there are not a lot of places to buy – they’re trying to get more.”

Though it’s beginning to slow down, Thomas says the housing boom that began as people looked to move to more rural areas, either for health or political reasons, is still ongoing – which makes Crook County a very interesting prospect to property traders.

“We’re starting to get to a point of leveling off right now,” he says. “But there are areas where there’s still a pretty drastic increase [in property sales], even to this day.”

There’s nothing illegal about what these companies are doing and you are, of course, free to consider any offer you receive. However, on the basis that it’s likely you could do better, Thomas recommends seeking expert advice before making a decision.

“If you have any questions as to if your property is valued at that price, and if you are interested in selling your property, I would suggest consulting a realtor,” he says.


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