Aside from life’s most precious moments, there may be no greater joy than that evoked when a person walks through his own land. The feelings of complete freedom and autonomy are overwhelmingly positive, perhaps intoxicating. One can look out and see rows of trees, open fields, and blue skies; hear the sounds of a gentle stream, birds calling melodiously, and the wind blowing the leaves and flowers. He can smell the sweet aromas of nature, taste the air, and touch the coarseness of ancient rocks emerging from the soil. There are no screens. There are no stoplights. There are no crowds. Serenity abounds.
Modern life has taken man away from his natural habitat. Especially in the day of cell phones, devices of all kinds, and expectations of 24-hour availability, leaving the confines of the office or the home can be a challenge, and for some, little more than a pipe dream. We live inside, work inside, and play inside. If you belong to a fitness club or gym, take a look around the facility on a nice day and you’ll find people walking on treadmills. These people may not know what they are missing. They shouldn’t be blamed, though, as they are only doing what they know or what makes sense to them.
Some people have always loved the outdoors. Perhaps they grew up doing things outside, such as playing sports, hunting, fishing, or riding bicycles. They may have never cut ties with nature; however, there is a growing group of people who have realized that they need to reconnect with nature, be relieved—at least temporarily—from the hustle and bustle of urban life, and experience all the benefits that the outdoors has to offer. The mental and physical health benefits of spending quality time outside cannot be overstated. From walking barefoot on the grass or soil, having time and space to reflect, being beyond the reach of man-made noise, absorbing sunlight and manufacturing vitamin D in the most natural way possible, to learning about the stars, plants, or animals, one could possibly get more value spending an afternoon in a forest than one could spending the night in a five-star hotel.
People have unique reasons for wanting land. They may want the tangible expansiveness acreage has to offer, beating claustrophobia into a pleasurable state of extinction. They may want to observe wildlife. They may want to hunt, fish, camp, picnic, hike, ride dirt bikes or ATVs, or shoot a bow and arrow. They may want to make an important investment that can be passed down to their children or grandchildren. They may want a picturesque setting for building their “dream” home. Whatever the reason, the demand for recreational property exists and likely isn’t going away.
What separates a person from having his “slice of heaven” on earth is often one or more of these three things: (1) capital, or access thereto, (2) the complexities of the buying process, and (3) the inventory of real estate available for sale. Banks, private lenders, and even sellers willing to finance (via seller financing) fall into the first category. Into the second category fall Realtors, real estate agents, real estate brokers, and attorneys who practice real estate law. The third category is made up of existing owners or sellers, whether in the form of an LLC, individual, a family, husband and wife, partnership, government, etc.
Some readers may be wondering, “Do I need to hire an attorney for the purchase of recreational land? Aren’t real estate agents capable of handling that kind of transaction?” These are very good questions. A buyer of recreational real estate can hire an attorney, a real estate agent, or both to help him or her with the purchase of his or her property.
What might be some advantages of hiring an attorney for the purchase of land? We itemize some of them for you below.
- Attorneys can advise on easement issues. Are there one or more easements on or over the property? How long do they last? What are the rights and obligations of the parties? What portion of the property is affected? Who is responsible for maintaining the easements? Can the easements be assigned? What are the permitted uses of the easements? What are the grantor’s (or grantors’) remedies in the event of a breach of an easement agreement?
- Attorneys can help with title matters. Who owns the property currently? Does he or she have the exclusive right to sell the property, or does someone else need to sign off? What exceptions to coverage were presented in the title commitment? Do title objections need to be made? Do endorsements need to be purchased? Are there odd documents placed in the chain of title? Do affidavits need to be provided?
- Attorneys can counsel on possession issues. Are there parties currently in possession of the property, whether through oral or written leases? Are there parties trespassing upon the property or claiming adverse possession rights? What happens to the hunting lease, for example, after the property is purchased?
- Attorneys can answer deed questions. What type of deed is appropriate? What is the difference between a warranty deed, quitclaim deed, and special warranty deed? Who needs to sign the deed? Who prepares the deed? Who files the deed? How do you get a copy of the file-stamped deed? Are there any deed restrictions currently in place that affect how the property can be used?
- Attorneys can draft and review contracts. Is there something specific that needs to be included in the contract for purchase? Has the seller placed an unusual provision in the sale agreement? Do the parties need to reach a preliminary agreement via a term sheet or letter of intent? If there is seller financing, how does one know whether the documents prepared by the seller are appropriate?
- Attorneys can research and analyze legal filings. Has there been a lawsuit filed that affects the property? Is the property being sold after a quiet title, partition, or determination of descent proceeding? Is there an executor, administrator, or trustee who is selling the property on behalf of an estate or trust?
- Attorneys can negotiate. Is there some aspect of the deal that is unfavorable to the buyer? Are there one-sided terms? Does the seller or her designee need to hear the perspective of a non-party professional?
- Attorneys can advocate and advise on real estate disputes. Has a problem occurred during the purchase? Is the seller unwilling to release the earnest money deposit? Is the seller being unreasonable? Has the seller failed to follow the purchase and sale agreement? Has there been a delay in closing? Is the title company doing its job? Was the property later discovered to be subject to a right of first refusal? Does a breach of contract lawsuit need to be filed?
Some people choose to hire a real estate agent and a real estate lawyer for the purchase of a piece of recreational property. Others choose to hire only a real estate agent or only a real estate lawyer. The decision certainly is the choice of each purchaser (or seller, for that matter). Given all of the complexities that arise during the acquisition process, some of which could easily go unnoticed, buyers of recreational property would be wise to engage the services of a real estate attorney.
Here at Kincaid Business & Entrepreneurial Law, LLC ®, we enjoy advising clients regarding the purchase or sale of real estate, including recreational properties or raw ground. We are able to help with land transactions anywhere in the states of Kansas or Missouri. Please contact us at 913-735-7707 or schedule with us here if we can be of service to you, your business, or your family. You may also wish to read about whether a person should use a real estate attorney or real estate agent to sell or purchase a home and “Real Estate Contracts vs. Real Estate Deeds: Does One Trump the Other?” on our blog.
Matthew T. Kincaid