TILLER — A robust marketing campaign and viral video has helped sell the town of Tiller.
There is a buyer under contract to purchase the majority of taxing lots in the unincorporated town, real estate broker Garrett Zoller said this morning. He was unable to name the buyer.
He said the buyer has begun due diligence to purchase the town. Getting the paperwork in order will take some time, though.
“Buying a town is not like going to the store and buying a loaf of bread,” Zoller said.
The town was listed for $3.85 million. Zoller would not say how much the buyer agreed to invest in the purchase.
Although the town has been for sale since 2015, it only recently made headlines in the last couple of weeks. The sudden fame had Zoller glued to his phone and fielding multiple inquires daily.
“Obviously, it’s a great problem to have, I just can’t be in two places at once,” he said.
Zoller is not sure why the sale gained momentum recently.
“We’ve done some different pinpoint marketing with search engine optimization, which I think could be a component of it,” he said. “I also think that a lot of the folks that live in Tiller have a lot to do with it.”
The marketing campaign features a YouTube video showcasing Tiller’s picturesque landscapes through the eyes of a flying drone as a deep-voiced broadcaster lulls the viewer with the listing details.
Tiller is a small unincorporated town 15 miles east of Canyonville and home to a little more than 200 people. It consists of a post office and a rural fire department. There was once a general store and an elementary school there as well, but they closed their doors a few years ago, recalled longtime resident Diana Lizotte. She has lived in Tiller for about 40 years. She said she hopes someone buys the property soon.
“I don’t like seeing the store and everything empty,” she said. “We’re used to using that store.”
The town property is owned by the Caswell Family Trust. The head of the family started purchasing property in Tiller as the timber industry declined in the 1980s and ’90s, when people started relocating to other areas for work. Little by little, he came to own 29 different tax lots in Tiller. He and his wife died a few years ago, Zoller said. He was unable to give their first names.
The listing includes 257 acres, commercial and agricultural water rights, water storage tanks, almost a mile stretch of the South Umpqua River, timber, and several commercial and residential buildings. They include the old Tiller general store and elementary school buildings.
Zoller said the town is a perfect fit for a business developer. He has already fielded inquiries from people wanting to build mental health facilities or a place for veterans’ services. The inquiries are coming from across the country, and one even came from investors in China.
Despite the wave of inquiries, Zoller said selling the property is not going to be easy.
“Obviously, it’s not easy to sell a whole town,” he said. “There are a lot of people who have an interest, but there’s only a limited number of people who could afford it and have the intuition, education and fortitude to put all the working components together and develop something that’s worthwhile.”