NH Conservation

Selling Real Estate with Conservation Protections

By Tom Howard

Landowners often question how conservation protections on their land may affect its future marketability. This question may precede their decision to place a conservation easement on the property. However, often the thought occurs to the landowner only when the time comes to sell their protected real estate.

Three key components to consider when selling your conservation property are accurate pricing, education of your buyer prospects, and emphasis upon those conservation values that make your real estate special.  

Perhaps foremost in the minds of a seller is the market price. The use limitations imposed upon a property by conservation protections, whether through deed restrictions or a conservation easement, do indeed impact its market value. In essence the overall property value has been reduced by an amount that represents the value of those limitations.

The biggest single mistake a seller can make is to attempt the “Have Your Cake and Eat it Too” whereby a landowner who has already benefitted in some manner by placing conservation protections on their land tries to sell the property for the full market value of the real estate as if the restrictions did not exist. By overpricing the property in this manner the owner can expect the listing to languish on the market.

Educate all parties who show an interest in owning your real estate. While education is always necessary in a real estate transaction, the addition of an unfamiliar element, the conservation protections, makes this teaching component even more important. To achieve the always coveted “win-win” transaction, a clear understanding of the property’s use limitations is vital to the prospective buyer.

Be sure that all relevant documents are available to your prospects. Include with your listing information the property’s deed, the conservation easement deed if applicable, a survey plan showing the areas subject to conservation restrictions, and the baseline documentation report, again if applicable.

Engage the assistance of the organization that is responsible for the conservation restrictions on your land. The appropriate staff can help to explain the relevant documents and can also interpret the restrictions as they might apply to uses proposed by a potential new owner. The organization will typically be very enthusiastic to have an opportunity to provide general conservation information as well as specific details regarding your property to prospective buyers. After all, those buyers are the next generation of stewards for the conservation lands that the organization deems precious. By engaging early in the process, a smooth transition in ownership can be achieved.

Promote the aspects of your land that make it so special. Do not shy from discussing the permanent conservation protections. Be proud of your land ethic and understand that the specific buyers you are looking for are those who will appreciate the natural resources featured. Additionally, these same buyers will be equally happy they do not have to pay for property rights, like development potential, that they have no intention of exercising anyway.

Finally, if you decide to contract with a real estate professional to assist with the marketing and sale of your cherished property, be sure to engage the services of a broker who is knowledgeable of conservation transactions and has experience with these important points we have mentioned.

So, price it right, educate your prospective buyers, and sell the values that made your land worthy of conservation protection. You will succeed because the right buyer is out there just waiting for an opportunity such as yours. Good luck!

Tom Howard is the principal broker of NH Conservation Real Estate, a realty company that offers brokerage and consulting services targeted to facilitate conservation transactions throughout New Hampshire. Tom can be reached at 603-253-4999 or via the company website at www.NHConservationRealEstate.com. Copyright 2010.