13 Important Questions to Ask Before Buying Land Real Estate

Even if a piece of property seems perfect, there are a lot of questions you should ask before you take out that checkbook. There’s so much you need to know about a property that a seller might not tell you right away. These twelve questions cover the most important topics for land owners to know about so that you can make sure the land is worth your hard-earned cash.

1. Is the Land Under Any Conservation Easements?
Conservation easements prevent land owners from planting, clearing, or hunting on certain areas of land to protect the natural resources. While the easements are good for the environment, it can be bad for you. Ask your seller if there are any conservation easements on the property, and if so, how they affect how much of the land you can use. Be sure to ask about how the bodies of water on the property could be affected by the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). While it is currently being proposed that the rule be delayed to allow for proper review of the definition of what constitutes ‘Waters of the US’, it still remains uncertain what the future will bring (learn more about WOTUS here: http://www.rliland.com/two-year-delay-wotus-rule-proposed). Also, make sure to take into consideration that flooding or contaminated water can prevent you from using huge sections of land.

2. What Will the Taxes on This Property Look Like?
If the property is already in land-use before you buy it, your property could qualify for serious tax breaks . Different states and counties have different rules about what types of land qualifies for a tax break program. For example, in the Albemarle county in Virginia, agricultural land must consist a “minimum of five acres and must meet prescribed standards for a bona fide production for sale of crops and/or livestock or be in an approved soil conservation program”. Check with the local Commissioner of Revenue to learn about what tax breaks your land qualifies for.

3. What Rights and Titles Are Included with This Property?
Rights are the benefits you get from a property as its owner (road access rights, mineral rights, development rights, etc.). Titles are a bit trickier (check out these The Top Three Title Issues). A title is a bundle of rights in a piece of property, such as exclusive possession and access easement. Since many titles are passed down from owner to owner, they may be out of date or overly complicated. If there are titles included with your property, consider hiring a title attorney.

4. Do I Have Access to Electricity/Wi-Fi Everywhere on This Property?
It’s very common for properties to have large ‘dead’ zones with no electricity or Wi-Fi because the owner didn’t ask about it beforehand. Just because the property has access to a powerline does not mean you can use it.

5. Are There Any Environmental Hazards I Should Be Aware Of?
You might think that you would be able to spot any deadly environmental hazards just by walking around a property. However, many environmental hazards can’t be seen by the naked eye. They can range from toxic runoff in the water, leaking underground pipes contaminating the soil, and improperly stored chemicals from previous owners. Having an environmental hazard on your property can be bad for your land at best, and put you at risk for serious health issues at worst. Remember, the seller is not obligated under law to volunteer any information about environmental issues unless you ask in most states.

6. Has the Soil Been Tested for Percolation Rate?
The soil percolation rate lets you know if the land can absorb water from a septic system. If the land hasn’t been tested, it is important to hire a soil scientist to study the topography, types of soil, and the soil’s ability to absorb water.

7. How Is the Property Reached?
There are two main ways to access a property – do you know which your property has? A frontage road is a local road that provides access to private properties. These add to the value of a property. A deeded access is a two-party system where the landowner (who doesn’t have reasonable access to his property) and a nearby neighbor (who does have a means of access) reach an agreement about right of way. If your property is accessed by a deeded access, you need to find out as soon as possible what the agreement is and if necessary, sit down with your neighbor to see if anything about the deeded access has changed.

8. Are the Boundaries of the Property Clearly Marked?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. If you plant on land that is not yours, even if you didn’t know about it, you could face lawsuits. If there is any uncertainty about the boundaries of your property, ask if a survey of the land has been done recently. A recent survey will be able to show you clear and up to date boundaries on your property.

9. How Does the Water Drain from the Property?
Water drainage can impact what you grow. Some properties dry quickly, while others stay wet most of the year. If you don’t know about the drainage and plant the wrong crop, it could drown or dry up your produce. Also, poor drainage around buildings can cause permanent damage and mold.

10. Is More Than 70% of The Property Sloped Suitably for Growing and Harvesting Timber?
This tip comes from Accredited Land Consultant Jonathan Goode, ALC. If you are looking to buy timberland, this question should be at the top of your list. Why more than 70% of the land? Timber requires a lot of land, so by having the majority of the land suited for growing timber, you’ll be making the best investment for your future timber business.

11. Where Are the Nearest Wood Mills?
This is an often-overlooked issue for timberland buyers. There are some properties that are so far away from wool mills that the cost and time it would take to get your wood there would be a huge drain on your budget, lowering your ROI.

12. What’s Going on With the Other Properties Near Me?
It’s a good idea to be in the know of what’s happening on the land near you. Are properties near you in the process of development? Have there been environmental issues or hazards with your neighbors? This will help you get an idea of what to expect from your own land.

13. What Is The Property’s Highest and Best Use?
The Appraisal Institute defines highest and best use as follows: “The reasonably probable and legal use of vacant land or an improved property that is physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible, and that results in the highest value.” Considering the highest and best use of the property is a must before making a purchase because it can impact the value of the land based on different uses of it.

If you are satisfied with the answers to these twelve questions, there’s a good chance you’ve just found the perfect property.

Is December Really the Worst Month to Sell Land Real Estate?

Many people think December is the worst month for selling land real estate. There is some truth to that: families tend to want to let their kids finish the school year before moving, the holidays mean people will have less free time to tour land real estate properties, and bitter weather might keep potential clients from making the drive out to available properties. Don’t let this assumption make you think that your sales will be at an all-time low this December though. Depending on what type of land real estate you sell, this could actually be one of your best months! Let’s take a look inside the rumor of December being the worst time to sell land real estate and what it means for your business.

The idea that December is the worst month to sell land real estate originally comes from the world of residential real estate. Urban, suburban, and rural residential REALTORS® noticed a sharp drop in sales in December, especially closer to the holidays. These residential REALTORS® accredited this seasonal slowdown to a few different factors: potential clients were waiting until the New Year to make a big purchase, people didn’t want to be constantly showing their house on top of all the holiday stress, and the people that did want to buy a house in December usually had very specific needs. It’s become such a popular saying that many land agents believe it applies to their business as well.

While there are some similarities between land and residential real estate, the two fields have very different needs from their clients. Residential real estate is more focused on the client’s personal connection with the property, while land real estate tends to focus on how profitable the property can be for the client. This is a huge factor into why December can be difficult for residential real estate agents while land agents might not notice any dent in their sales. Instead of being tied to the individual needs of a client, land real estate sales are more impacted by the trends and needs of the market.

The good news for land agents is that if you have an eye on the market or have been in the business for a long time, you’ll already know what your clients want before they do. The need for timberland land rises significantly in autumn, and the sell for big game land real estate goes up as hunting season draws near.

So, is there a best and worst time to sell land real estate? While rural land real estate is less restricted by monthly ups and downs than residential real estate, there are some factors that can impact the sales. There are natural dips and rises due to what the market needs. So, while there are better and worse months for the land real estate market, the difference between them is much less severe than many people think.

If you are still conflicted about selling your land property in December, here are a few surprising benefits to consider:

Less Competition. Since many people believe that December is the worst month to sell, land real estate agents might prefer to dedicate more time to holiday festivities instead of reaching out to new clients. This means there are more potential clients and sales for you!

Making the Drive Can Make The Sale. Bad weather, snow, and ice can tempt many land agents to stay home instead of making the long, difficult drive out to properties. Being willing to drive in rough weather can lead you to a greater pool of clients. Before you hit the road, be sure your car is fitted with the proper tires for rough roads.

The Psychological Appeal of Christmas. What lowers the residential REALTOR®’s sales might actually work to your advantage. With the holidays and New Year’s Eve on their minds, people’s thoughts naturally turn towards the future and their families. People in urban areas can consider moving to the countryside to raise a family, and rural land owners might invest in more land real estate when looking at diversifying their portfolios for the New Year.

There are many factors that play into how successful a month is for selling a property. Success depends more on the needs of your clients than what month it is. If you keep up-to-date on the needs in your community and your market, December can be a great month for you.

Six Steps to Take After You Purchase a Land Property

Purchasing a land property can be a wise investment. Whether you are looking to build a home on the property, cultivate farmland, or want the land developed for any other purposes, it is important to take the right steps after purchase to ensure your plans for the property can be carried out smoothly. After finalizing the purchase, you will need to carefully survey your land, get all documents in order, and get the property into a good condition to fulfill your plans for it.

1. Study the Topographic Map
Before finalizing the sale, you should obtain a topographic map of the property from the seller and check to be sure you know exactly what you are buying. After the sale is finalized, a good first step is to carefully study the map to get the lay of the land. If you are intending to build a home on the property, identify flat areas that may be good to lay a foundation, as well as areas that will need to be cleared of rocks or debris. If you are planning to raise livestock, you can also plan out where they can graze and how best to keep your animals penned in. This map will also show you the exact boundaries of the property you purchased.

2. Establish Boundaries
If the land you just purchased does not already have fencing or natural barriers running along the edges of the property, you will want to establish boundaries. There are many reasons for doing this. If you are preparing farmland, you will want to keep wild animals out, and if you intend to build a home, boundaries will prevent hunters or other trespassers from walking around the property. Be sure to create your boundaries based on the specifications of the topographic map, which will show you exactly how far the property stretches, and choose the material for your boundary wisely. Wooden fencing is the most visually attractive option, but if you are looking to keep livestock in or predators out, barbed wire is usually best.

3. Have Your Land Evaluated
If you intend to build a home, or other structures such as a barn or garage, you will want to have your land professionally evaluated after purchase. Hire a local builder to survey the land; they can take into account topographic conditions, drainage, sun direction, privacy, and other factors that will help determine where on the property you decide to build. Many companies offer free on-site evaluations for customers intending to build.

4. Pick Up Trash
You would be surprised at how much garbage can be accumulated on large plots of land, particularly if it was unowned or unused before your purchase. Whatever your intentions for the property, you will want to clear your land of trash. This will improve its visual appeal, get it ready for development, and keep livestock from coming in contact with garbage. Some trash will be obvious, but keep in mind that items like glass and rusted metal often rest just below the top layer of soil, which can cause them to blend in with the ground. Check the entire property carefully; occasionally, you may even find something interesting or useful among the waste.

5. Clear the Land
After trash has been removed, you will need to clear the land of obstructing boulders, fallen trees, or other debris that can cause problems for land development. You will likely need to hire professionals to help dig out large rocks or clear massive trees; although if you own a reliable chainsaw, you can often cut trees up yourself and then remove them or use the pieces for firewood. Do not complete this step until you have carefully surveyed your property and chosen where you will be building, as you will likely need to more thoroughly clear the site of the foundation for your home, barn, or other building.

6. Meet the Neighbors
One of the most important steps after purchasing land has nothing to do with building or finances. By introducing yourself to your neighbors, you not only gain potential friends, but if the neighbors have lived on their property for a long time, they may be able to offer advice on clearing and developing the land. In addition, being on good terms with your neighbors can be a lifesaver if you ever have a medical emergency or other crisis situation.

By carefully following these six steps, you will ensure that you are ready to work or live on the land you just purchased. The most important thing is to have a plan for what you will do with the land; while these steps will always need to be taken in some capacity, exactly how you go about it will depend on your intentions for the land. As long as you take stock of the property after purchase and hire professionals when necessary, you will have the land ready for farming, building a home, or other property development in no time

About the Author: Alex Briggs is a contributing writer for Lone Eagle Land Brokerage, Inc. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Surprising The Land Lover In Your Life

Some people will love any gift you give them: others are a bit pickier. Then there are those people you will have absolutely no idea for what to get them. Below, we’ve found great gifts for the land lover in your life that is impossible to shop for (or even to treat yourself).

That One Person You Don’t Know in Secret Santa

There’s always that one person in Secret Santa who no one knows that well. And this year, you picked their name. Luckily you do know that they love land and everything related to it. So what do you get someone who you know almost nothing about other than that?

1. Travel Pro Power Bank. This compact phone charger is a thoughtful gift for a wide variety of personalities. You can charge your phone from 0% to 100% quickly, which is great for people who love long hiking trips, car rides, or people who just forgot to plug their phone in overnight.

2. Kelvin.23. Everyone can find a use for this tool. The Kelvin 23 is twenty-three tools in one. It includes a hammer, a six-foot tape measure, sixteen screw and socket bits, and more.

3. Batch Gift Box. Who wouldn’t love to open a box of Southern goodies? Choose from dozens of baskets based on food (coffee, barbeque, chocolate) or state/city (Austin, Nashville, Louisiana). If you know where your Secret Santa is from or what type of food your Secret Santa likes to snack on, you can get the perfect Christmas gift.

 

The Hard-To-Impress Hostess

She is the perfect hostess and gift giver, and now you want to return the favor. Even though her manners are perfect, maybe you’re a little bit intimidated by her. It feels like no matter what you get her, she won’t be impressed.

1. Beautiful copies of classic books. A beautiful copy of a classic book is sure to impress. Bonus points if you know her favorite author.

2. Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker. This coffee maker makes brewing after-dinner coffee easier. It brews tea, too!

3. Maggie Louise Chocolates. The All Is Bright Chocolate Box features jewel-colored chocolates in the shape of ornaments. They come in an assortment of white, dark, and milk chocolate. Who doesn’t love a little chocolate to sweeten up their holiday season?

 

The Guy Who Already Has Everything

The latest in technology, food, clothes – he has it. He’s always on top of the trends and has everything his heart desires. What do you get the man who already has everything?

1. Southern Bourbon Stout Beer Brewing Kit. Is he the type of guy who loves beer and is always on the hunt for a new favorite? Now he can make his own!

2. Dakine Party Bucket. This is perfect for barbeques or outdoor parties. The Dakine Party Bucket contains one insulated wine bottle bolter and eight built-in insulated Koozies for the drink of his choice. There’s also a built-in bottle opener and water-resistant snack pocket.

3. Monogrammed Leather Cocktail Shaker. Even the guy who seems to have everything doesn’t have a customized cocktail shaker.

 

In Laws

Stressing out about gifts for the in-laws is a holiday tradition. Would a gag gift be greeted with laughs or death stares? Here are some gifts that’ll please the parents.

1. Custom House Portrait Art. This unique artwork is a thoughtful gift. You can make a custom line drawing in the color of your choice of a place that is special to them, like the church they got married in or the family house. This is a gift that you know won’t end up gathering dust in the garage.

2. Custom Large Casserole Lasagna Pan. This will definitely get you in your in-laws’ good graces. You can customize this lasagna pan with a family recipe.

3. Homemade Pecan Pie. Want to make something a little more hands-on? Try a homemade pie. Here’s a recipe that only requires seven ingredients and has rave reviews. Gifts always mean more when the secret ingredient is love.

 

Your Teenage Niece

You want to get her something trendy, but the trends change so fast that by the time you get a gift, there’s a good chance that it’s no longer cool. Here are some gift ideas that’ll never go out of style.

1. Monogram Something Unique. She probably already has a monogramed necklace and sweatshirt, so why not think outside the box? You can monogram soaps , umbrellas, Christmas ornaments, stickers, beach towels, and more. Looking for more options? Sites like Etsy have an unlimited number of customizable gifts.

2. Home State Necklace. This is a simple piece that goes with everything and can remind them of home even if they are away for the holidays.

3. Lilly Pulitzer iPhone case. She’ll love this gorgeous watercolor case that adds a little personality to an otherwise standard item.

We hope these gift ideas help you kick-start your holiday shopping and give you inspiration for the perfect gift for even the most difficult people on your Christmas list. Happy Holidays!