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Anyone own land?
Old 03-09-2012, 02:25 PM   #1
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Anyone own land?

I am at teh stage of merely toying with the idea, but I am now in an area where one can purchase a chunk of recreational land in a nice area for relatively modest amounts of money and real estate taxes are de minimus. Anyone own land? Special gotchas or liability to worry about as an owner?
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:39 PM   #2
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I've got friends who (to my mind) unwisely bought some riverfront land with a HELOC when prices were pretty high. What is killing them is property taxes, which even though our state taxes are pretty low, are much higher for land than primary residences.
If your taxes are reasonable and you've got the cash, and it is somewhere you see yourself really enjoying, then go for it!
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:45 PM   #3
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I own some farmland and some timberland. The only gotchas for me is that you need to maintain the land (or it will turn into a mess) and make sure nobody damages your property. A few years ago one of my parcels of timberland was heavily damaged by someone hauling timber right through it without my permission. An entire crop of young trees I had planted was wiped out and the parcel ended up looking like a mud pit.
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:58 PM   #4
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My uncle has some land that he bought to build a cabin to go retire and have his kids build on as well. West Virginia. Really nice, in between small town and rural. We've been there a few times and he mentioned two problem areas. Trespassers and inexperienced nearby hunters. He has no qualms about returning fire, his only real complaint was the potential problems with the law if he shot a trespasser without them being adequately warned. Until be built on it he did spend more than he planned on barbed wire.
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:56 PM   #5
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Anyone own land? Special gotchas or liability to worry about as an owner?
I'd worry about the land becoming an "attractive nuisance" for entrepreneurial meth dealers and hormonally-challenged teens.

I guess the solution would be liability insurance and regular groundskeeper visits.

In another thread, a poster mentioned buying land and parking a couple "mobile" homes on it. Instant landlord property ladder! Of course that merely turns the "nuisances" into "tenants", which still requires liability insurance and regular groundskeeper visits. But hopefully the cashflow would cover the expenses.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:44 AM   #6
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brewer12345, the surrounding neighbors definitely is an import factor. If it's a timber land, then your neighbors could help by keeping an eye on it for you on illegal firewood logging when you can not be there. If it's just a raw land without any structure on it, then probably your existing homeowner insurance can cover it without extra cost. Also if you grant permission to your neighbors for hunting as a good will, then per common laws in some states, you probably can not be held liable for any accident due to their gross misjudgement. Last but no the least, as already pointed by FIREd, if it's a cultivated farmland, it will be overgrown without proper care over years. Even if it's a timberland, the old and died trees should be felled (and used as free firewood) for the sake of the other younger ones.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:06 AM   #7
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brewer12345, the surrounding neighbors definitely is an import factor. If it's a timber land, then your neighbors could help by keeping an eye on it for you on illegal firewood logging when you can not be there. If it's just a raw land without any structure on it, then probably your existing homeowner insurance can cover it without extra cost. Also if you grant permission to your neighbors for hunting as a good will, then per common laws in some states, you probably can not be held liable for any accident due to their gross misjudgement. Last but no the least, as already pointed by FIREd, if it's a cultivated farmland, it will be overgrown without proper care over years. Even if it's a timberland, the old and died trees should be felled (and used as free firewood) for the sake of the other younger ones.
Thanks. This would be mountain land with some trees on it if I decide to go looking for some. I would be more than happy to own a chunk of farmland (likely would choose Nebraska) and I have a friend who could advise on such a purchase, but good farmland has really run up in price and I have no intention of buying into a bubble. When the next crash comes in that asset class I will consider buying and then renting it out for cultivation to someone who actually wishes to farm it.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:21 AM   #8
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When the next crash comes in that asset class I will consider buying and then renting it out for cultivation to someone who actually wishes to farm it.
Renting out your farmland to someone who actually wishes to farm it is the best option IMO.

In my case, I do not actually rent out the land to farmers. Farmers harvest the hay to feed their dairy cattle in the winter and, in exchange, my piece of land is properly cared for and looked after. It works for all of us. If, however, the land was used for growing cash crops, then charging a rent would sound reasonable.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:34 AM   #9
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I agree that good farm ground is a little bubbly right now. When the time comes, look into a share crop agreement as well as a cash rental. I personally prefer the standard 50/50 share crop with a trustworthy tenant on a farm with row crops.
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Old 03-10-2012, 01:51 PM   #10
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A bit off topic but the only "Real Asset" I <sorta> own is a co-tenant share of 54 acres in eastern Kentucky. We did agree to have it surveyed and subdivided among the five owning families. I am the sole heir in my clan, about 8.5 acres.

The land is forested rolling hills, unsuited for agriculture but we did harvest the timber. Property taxes are low, $90/year but several families "forget" to kick in their share. Per Nords commment of meth dealers, thats a very real concern and if I were to have a cabin there, I would carry a pistol. I'm not the Rambo type but its a very rural area. Also any improvement I made would most likely be subject to recreational vandalism

If I remain in the US, I just may petition to have the property divided according to our previous survey.

Back on topic, Brewer is no dummy and I'm sure he would buy the land at an attractive price. Having your very own private camp grounds/bike trails area is enticing and if it doesn't work out, could most likely be sold as a break even "Been there, done that" experience

Good Luck!
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:33 PM   #11
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Also any improvement I made would most likely be subject to recreational vandalism
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Old 03-10-2012, 07:06 PM   #12
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On another forum that I frequent, the major issue for absentee land owners is trespassing and littering.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:27 AM   #13
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the major issue for absentee land owners is trespassing and littering.
In this case, depending on the tract's size, nature, shape, topology, and adjacent tracts' owners, having access from public road vs right of way only could make a big difference. It's important to have close relationship with your prospective neighbors.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:36 AM   #14
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............ It's important to have close relationship with your prospective neighbors.
Right, as they may well be the ones that have used your land for free for years and are intent on continuing that relationship whenever you are not there.
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Old 03-11-2012, 09:30 AM   #15
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I own a decent amount of land, almost 200 acres, roughly broken down as 5 acres for my primary residence, 25 acres of hay/pasture and then about 170 acres for timberland. In Massachusetts they have tax programs for farmland and timberland that you can apply for, so the taxes on that portion of my land is minimal (the farmland is taxed at 25% of the rate of residential, and timberland is taxed at 5%), so in rough numbers, if the timber land was worth 400K, it is taxed as if it is worth 20K, and if the farmland was assessed at $200K, it is taxed as if it was worth $50K, so at my tax rate the tax bill for that timber/ag land is roughly $500/year.

I know of a few other states that have similar programs, so they are definitely worth learning about and taking advantage of. There are requirements, for example, I need to file a timber-cutting plan every 10 years with the state for the timber land, and a agriculture report every year for the 'farm' land. The ag report takes 5 minutes and can be done easily, the 10 year timber-cutting plan may require the use of a registered forester, and might cost $1500 or more (every ten years - still worth it).

If the land wasn't attached to my primary residence, I am not sure I would be as interested in owning it.
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:49 AM   #16
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Right, as they may well be the ones that have used your land for free for years and are intent on continuing that relationship whenever you are not there.
travelover, I can't believe you're even more cynical than me.

All kidding aside, I have no problem in letting my neighbor to take trees already down (due to age or bad weather) as free firewood when we can't be there. Why waste it by letting the wood to rot in dirt? With current economy, any bit of help counts. I also wouldn't mind allowing his cows to graze on our pasture. Cow manure is excellent fertilizer. Plus we don't have to hire someone to use brush hog for ground maintenance.
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:51 AM   #17
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travelover, I can't believe you're even more cynical than me.

All kidding aside, I have no problem in letting my neighbor to take trees already down (due to age or bad weather) as free firewood when we can't be there. Why waste it by letting the wood to rot in dirt? With current economy, any bit of help counts. I also wouldn't mind allowing his cows to graze on our pasture. Cow manure is excellent fertilizer. Plus we don't have to hire someone to use brush hog for ground maintenance.
It is not the responsible neighbors ya gotta worry about. It is the kooky, criminal types who will steal anything that you leave there, tear up the place with motorcycles and 4 wheelers, cook meth and grow pot on the land, etc, etc. The first night that you spend there and hear the coon dogs and gun shots changes one's perspective. But I'm sure that would never happen.....
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:27 PM   #18
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I guess the solution would be liability insurance and regular groundskeeper visits.
I don't think you can get liability insurance on property you do not occupy yourself.

In southern Oregon, property in the country can get occupied by marijuana growers and becomes impossibly dangerous.

I would buy a condo. Prices are low these days.
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:33 PM   #19
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We recently bought a house but own a 1 acre lot where we had intended to build. We plan to hold on to it for awhile before selling as it is in a very desirable area and values for land are going up quite a bit.

We did this a few years ago -- same thing, bought a lot intending to build and then ended up buying. We sold the 2 acre lot after a year for a 25% increase in price so it worked out well.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:09 PM   #20
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My brother bought an undeveloped lot on an island long ago. At length he sold it for a loss as it turned out to not be a practical site, having done nothing with it, even camping as far as I know.

We also acquired an undeveloped lot once upon a time and sold for a big loss. I am trying to forget about that one.
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