Sat July 25, 2009, 10:01 am

Getting the Best Price Possible, Issues to Consider When Selling Land

A landowner selling his land always wants the best price for his property. There are several issues to consider before marketing the land that can greatly increase the marketability and drive up the price. Many of these same issues also affect the marketability of the timber.
 

Access
 
A major factor affecting the value of land is the type of access. Direct road frontage is best. If the access is across another property, is it by oral or written agreement? Oral agreements should be reduced to a written easement agreement and recorded with the Register of Deeds to transfer with the land. Location and dimensions of the easement should be described accurately, usually with a survey. It is often easier to work an easement out with the current landowners, who probably know each other, than with a new owner. A point to consider is that many lenders will not loan money to purchase land without recorded access. This would limit the sale to only people who could afford to pay cash and greatly reduce the marketability of the land.
 
Another point to consider is easements by others across your lands. If they are no longer used, landowners should clear these up by written agreement. If the easement is by oral agreement, then they should also be reduced to writing to identify the exact use allowed, for the protection of all parties.
 
Legal Descriptions
 
Rural properties are surveyed infrequently. A legal description may be handed down from deed to deed and generation to generation, without verification. Old descriptions were made with less accurate surveying instruments than those used today and often contain errors. A new survey will greatly increase the marketability of the property and the sale value of the property. The cost of the survey will also be deductible as an expense of the sale.
 
Inherited Ownership
 
Properties inherited by family members can also create potential ownership issues. If your property was inherited, you should make sure the prior owner’s will was properly probated in the county courts of the county where the property is located. Many times, if the person died in another county or state, this is overlooked. If the estate was not properly probated, this can cause a potential sale to be delayed for months and even cause a potential buyer to walk away from the purchase.
 
Leases
 
Current hunting, farming or other leases restrict the use of a property and are important items for a potential buyer to consider. They should be put in writing to describe the rights granted and when those rights will terminate. If possible, the lease should require that the rights terminate upon sale of the property, so that the new buyer can lease the rights as they see fit.
 
Addressing the items mentioned above can increase the time and costs of preparing a property for sale; but the hard work will be repaid handsomely in the purchase price received from the sale.
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