Who You Share Your New Ranch Property With May Surprise You
Buying a ranch is a much more complicated process than buying a residential property. In addition to understanding your water rights and any conservation rules that apply to your new acreage, you may have to share your land with some unexpected guests. This is why performing your due diligence is so important. There are a few key documents that you need to look for to understand who has rights to your new land.
A land survey is a document that accurately depicts the boundaries of a piece of property and any buildings located on it. Sometimes a land survey includes topographical information as well. This document is important to have, and many banks require a survey as part of their underwriting process. A survey may reveal that a neighbor's outbuilding is located on your land. Unfortunately, if the building has been there for a considerable amount of time, your neighbor may have earned the right to keep it there.
Many ranch land buyers are surprised to learn that the previous owner has leased portions of their land for other uses, including:
- Farming. Leasing a portion of unused land to a nearby farmer is common practice in many parts of the country. New owners typically must honor that lease until the farmer can successfully harvest the crop at the end of that growing season.
- Hunting or fishing. When you have hundreds of acres or more, it is not unreasonable to allow other hunters or fishermen access to your land during the hunting season. Not only does it help cull the herd in your area, but it can be a way to earn extra money, especially if the land is leased to an adventure travel company for their clients.
- Grazing. A herd of cattle needs plenty of room to graze properly and many landowners lease portions of their unused pasture to local cattle farmers. Read the existing lease to understand how long you will be sharing your property with your bovine friends.
Make sure you ask for copies of any and all leases as part of your due diligence so you know who will share your property with you and for how long.
Many larger plots of land have easements located on them. An easement is simply a stretch of land that others have legally guaranteed access to. Typically, easements are used by the power company to maintain access to electrical poles and wires. Some easements are in the form of a road located on your property that allows a land-locked neighbor access to their parcel. Easements typically do not expire like a lease, but rather are permanent.
Many large stretches of land have special easements called land trusts. Land trusts are an agreement with a non-profit organization or the local, state, or federal government. They are designed to protect area floral or fauna, like a herd of wild horses. Many landowners are well-paid for land trusts as long as they continue to share their land.
While it might be surprising who will have access to your new piece of property with you, land surveys, leases, easements, and land trust documents will tell you everything you need to know. Talk to ranch land buyers to learn more.