Private land ownership is a privilege that, as percentages go, very few people in the whole history of the world have had the opportunity to enjoy. The United States was founded on the principle of private property ownership, and it is a right we still enjoy today.
The reasons why people purchase land vary widely. In my experience, there is usually a combination of factors, and a shared ethos that drives the decision to acquire rural real estate. Below are some of the most common reasons people contact me for purchasing rural properties.
1. Recreational Enjoyment- Hunting, fishing, horseback riding, bird watching, hiking, shooting sports, and simply getting away to the outdoors are some of the main drivers for purchasing your own property.
2. Farming and Agribusiness- These are the folks that truly “live off the land”. Cultivating crops, raising livestock, tending poultry houses, or running an “Agri-tainment” business drives these purchases. This type buyer earns their living from what they produce and sell.
3. Timberland Investments- Timberland has historically been a great way to invest money for the long term. Pine timber can generally grow through its life cycle and produce income for its owner over a 25-30 year period. Timberland can usually produce modest and predictable returns when it is well managed.
4. Conservation- Protecting the beauty or resources of a property, in perpetuity, is very appealing. You want to see future generations enjoy the land in much the same way you see it now.
5. Homesteading- Growing your own food, passing along your values to your children, and enjoying a simpler way of life fuels the demand for these properties. Few things in life provide the same satisfaction as being more self-sustaining. Clean air and clean living out in the country is an appealing thought to many.
6. Building Wealth- “I want to have something to leave my family when I’m gone.” This is a common refrain for people who want to invest in a tangible asset that will be able to be sold at some point in the future.
7. Preserving Capital- For those who have acquired wealth through the sale of a business or more volatile investments such as the stock market, investing in land can provide a more stable hedge against inflation and the caprice of global markets.
8. Rural Heritage- For those who grew up on a farm, or have great memories of their visits to the farm, reclaiming a bit of your past is an exciting prospect. Reliving your memories and creating new ones with the ones you love motivates you to invest in land and your family.
9. Tax Benefits- There are benefits to purchasing land that can help your tax situation. The donation of a Conservation Easement allows you to protect a property and also make a charitable contribution that can be deducted from your income tax over a period of years. 1031 Like Kind Exchanges allow you to sell any property held for investment (commercial, beach rentals, rental houses) and re-invest that property into rural land while deferring capital gains tax.
10. Pride of Ownership- Improving wildlife habitat, building structures, developing water features, giving attention to detail, and doing an honest day’s work gives you a sense of pride at what you have accomplished. Enhancing a property with your time, resources, and effort appeals to your creative nature and provides a sense of enjoyment that like-minded land lovers can appreciate.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and few people ever make a land purchase based solely on one factor. If you find this article resonates with you, you may be a good candidate for making a rural land purchase.
Written by: Jonathan Goode is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and licensed land broker in Alabama and Mississippi. He co-hosts the weekly radio program, The Land Show, that covers many of these topics for people interested in buying or selling land in Alabama.
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