NC Land Knowledgebase Exchange - BLOG

At NC Mountain Land LLC we aim to provide landowners and landbuyers with useful information on a number of relevant topics:

  • Selling and Buying Land
  • Optimizing Property Value
  • Physical Aspects of Land
  • Land Uses & Limitations
  • Qualifying A Land Broker

You will notice as you visit this page over time, that more articles will become available.

If you would like to suggest a particular topic, please Contact Us!

May 5, 2017

"Present Use Value" Tax Deferment

Real Estate Tax Savings in NC

Property owners with at least 20 acres of contiguous wooded land may qualify for this tax deferment program offered through the North Carolina Department of Revenue. For full details on this program, you can download the full guide. The program applies to both wooded land, and farm land. For the purpose of this article, we'll focus on the the program that applies to wooded land, which people commonly refer to as the "forestry program".

In a nutshell, if you own wooded land 20 acres or larger in North Carolina, you may qualify for the Present Use Value program. The easiest way to know if you qualify, and what you need to know to get started, visit your county tax assessor. He might explain to you that there are two general ways to qualify.

The first way is if you've owned the particular 20+ contiguous acres for 4 full years, then you can petition to sign up the property. The tax assessor will require that you file a "Forestry Plan", which will need to be developed by a licensed forester, whether private or one through the NC Forestry Service.

The forestry plan generally consist of a natural survey of the types and approximate age of trees growing on the property. The plan will also make some "best management practices" recommendations to promote timber production, including a prescribed harvest schedule for different areas of the property depending on age and species of trees.

The second way to qualify for the program is if you purchase a property of 20 acres or more that was already under the program with the previous landowner. In this case, you have up to 60 days from the day of closing to file NCDOR Form AV-5, in which you agree to take on the tax liability of the deferred taxes enjoyed by the previous landowner. In our experience, a landbuyer will present this form at closing, notifying the closing attorney and the seller that he/she will be keeping the property under the program, and intends to promptly file Form AV-5 with the county tax office.

When a property already under the Land Use Program is sold and purchased, keeping it under the program creates a "win - win" situation for buyer and seller. The seller at closing would normally have to pay the county tax office the deferred taxes for the last 3 full years, plus the running year at closing. However, when the landbuyer files Form AV-5, he/she is agreeing to take on the seller's tax liability. The result is that the seller doesn't have to pay deferred taxes at closing, and the landbuyer begins enjoying the low annual taxes collected by the county "right out of the gate".

A third instance where you can place timber land under the program is that if you already own property under the program, you can purchase additional adjoining timber land, even if it is less than 20 acres. In this case, the newly purchased property that wasn't under the program can automatically qualify and be brought under the tax-deferment program. 

As an example of the property tax-saving benefits of this program, I have selected a random wooded property in Wilkes County that, according to the county GIS, is 159.6 acres, and its regular tax-appraised value is $430,920. According to the Wilkes County tax website, this property has a deferred value of $393,410, and it is assessed annual property taxes based on a value of $37,510, or a 91.3% tax savings. This is based on 2016 taxes, and also the fact that it is located in the Ferguson Fire District. Wilkes County's 2016 tax rate is $0.67 per $100.00 value, and the Ferguson Fire District collects fire taxes at the rate of $0.10 per $100.00 value.

For tax reasons, it makes a lot of sense to place, or keep, timber lands in North Carolina under the Present Use Value program, but landowners and prospective landbuyers are advised to consult their county tax assessor and the NC Forestry Service to receive a full understanding of this program before making any decisions.

April 14, 2017

Landowner's Rights & Waters Of The U.S.

Reach of Federal Regulators Over Wetlands and Waterways

Land Owner's Rights and Waters of the UNited StatesDuring the previous administration, the EPA and the US Army Corps Of Engineers (USACE) drafted the Clean Water Rule, a.k.a. the Waters Of The US (WOTUS) rule to more clearly define the reach of regulators over waters and wetlands of the US.

President Trump, on February 28, signed an Executive Order (EO) that although does not repeal the rule, does begin the process of unwinding WOTUS. The President's EO directs the EPA and USACE to evaluate the rule, likely being the first step in dismantling it.

Taking down WOTUS will have a significant effect in real estate, especially concerning land and private land ownership across the United States. The rule has caused the need for time-consuming and costly permitting on previously unregulated private waters.

WOTUS increased the type and number of waters that fell under its jurisdiction, encumbering lands and preventing private landowners from utilizing their properties to the fullest. Maintaining good water quality should always be a priority, but regulating activities in and around water on private lands should follow common sense and be limited to a reasonable extent.



March 9, 2017

Sold!! 1,750± Ac - Off Elk Creek NC

Investment Land in Wilkes & Caldwell Counties in NC

Not very often do we see such a large tract of land sold in our area. This tract consists of an assemblage of 15 separate tax parcels that took a number of years to put together. It's especially secluded nature, and the fact that there are no utilities present on the property, made this property especially challenging to find the type of buyer that knew how to appreciate it.

This was a private sale to an individual looking to invest and park some of his wealth in a large tract of land. He looks forward to improving the property to make it even more beautiful and more accessible for his personal use and to be able to enjoy with family and friends. A savvy investor will always include land in his or her investment portfolio.

Let Chris Breden help you find the property that's right for your investment portfolio. We handle properties mainly above the 50-acre category, up to the largest properties available in our market area. 

May 2, 2016

Road Frontage or Private Access Road

Which Road Access Option is Better?

I get this question a lot! There is no right answer, but it will depend mostly on what a landbuyer's goals and objectives are. Most landbuyers that come to us looking for mountain land, are looking for privacy and seclusion, so it would stand to reason that a property that offers peace and quiet would be the top choice.

Road FrontageFrontage on a busy highway, even if town is 15 miles away, is probably not the first choice because road noise carries quite a bit, even if the property is relatively large. In most landbuyer's and seller's minds, property with highway frontage commands a high price, although this varies significantly with the level of demand for highway frontage in a particular area. For anyone looking for peace and solitude, property with highway frontage could never be cheap enough to make a purchase.

What about frontage on a small state-maintained road in a secluded part of the county? This will probably work because only a few cars might go by in a day's time. The compromise here will be the additional travel time to get to and from the property. Making the daily travel to town may become a burden to some, but to others, this scenario would be ideal!

Private Access RoadConversely, a tract of land near a 4-lane highway, with a good access via deeded right-of-way, back far enough to provide all the peace and quiet that is desired, would make a good land purchase also. Landbuyer beware! -there are all manner of rights-of-way, so ask your land broker wich would work better in your particular case.

April 26, 2016

Simple Land Improvements

Make it Easy For The Land Buyer to Say "YES"!

Simple land improvementsMost tracts of raw mountain land for sale are found the way God made them. However, in fact, most raw mountain properties have been logged at some point in the last 40-50 years. Depending on how recent the logging activity, you will find a network of logging roads that make it possible to access different areas of any given property.

Usually, the main logging roads are kept clear by hunters using ATVs, and remain open even long after the last cutting. These same logging roads are crucial in being able to show a large tract of land to a prospective buyer. 

Simple Land Improvements Pay Off!

There are some large tracts of land for sale that have no drivable logging roads, so it makes it extremely difficult for a landbuyer to get excited, and to be able to see all of the key features that make a property great.

Amazingly, most buyers of large mountain properties prefer to ride a UTV rather than hike, making it even more important to make the logging roads drivable and clear of trees and tree branches. Most landowners won't consider paying someone to open up and improve these roads mainly because they believe it will cost too much.

Surprisingly, the cost to improve existing logging roads is relatively low, and the benefits are indisputable. Decide not to invest in road improvements, and expect for a property to go unseen and unsold for a long period, after which the seller reluctantly settles for a lot lower offer to get rid of the property.

On the contrary, the wise landowner will invest a modest amount in a few key improvements, and the result will be a very positive experience for prospective Buyers, and a significantly lower average time on the market before a sale.

...Land Improvements Can Reduce Sale Times... 

"How much can I expect to spend in enough improvements to make a difference?", you ask. I know first hand of a number of examples. In one case involving a 6-acre parcel purchased for $25,000, the landowner invested $3,000 to open up an old and choked logging road to the top, cleared a 1/3-acre homesite, and opened up the views. Five months later that same property sold for $55,000. Left unimproved, the same property would have sold for a lot less, and following a long period.

On a larger scale, a 100+ acre tract had over a mile of deteriorating logging roads, making it difficult to show to prospective buyers. Six days of work with the right equipment and operator, and just over $7,000 invested, made it possible for the right buyer to look over the property in detail and bought it!

The actual improvements don't necessarily make a property fetch a higher price, but it makes the property more appealing, selling in a relatively shorter period.

If you are considering selling a tract of mountain land, ask your land broker for assistance in deciding where to invest a few improvement dollars to maximize the effect on prospective landbuyers. 

Posted in Optimizing Value
April 15, 2016

Home & Land or Land & Home

Secluded Log Home & 81 Acres - Avery Co NC 

Log Home and 81 Acres in Avery County NCSOLD!! A rare combination of a beautiful Log Home and a large tract of mountain land in Avery County NC.

For full details, click here! 

What makes this property so unique is the fact that you normally can either find for sale a beautiful log home on small acreage, or you can find large acreage without a home, but in this case we have both, a large tract of mountain land with a beautiful log home currently used as a 5BR/3BA mountain retreat!

This secluded property has a beautiful log home on about 81 acres of pure Avery County mountain land in NC. The home is surrounded by just the right amount of open grassy meadows with outstanding long-range and layered views of distant mountains.

Here, you can take advantage of plenty of southern exposure for passive solar heating, and solar power generation for those alternative energy enthusiasts. In addition, right near the home is Harmon Gap, which is a topographical feature funneling copious amounts of mountain breeze. Here's another opportunity for wind power generation that can help with the power bill, especially during the cool season.

This property is currently being used as a 5BR/3B mountain retreat, and has been since 2001 when the home was built. For those looking for seclussion and privacy, or looking for the perfect place for a family compound, or off-grid location, then you want to pay attention to this one.

See the full details, here! 

Nov. 11, 2015

Buying Land - When is the best season?

Seasons for buying land in NCOften people ask, "when is the best time of the year to buy mountain land?" Answer: There's a season for every type of landbuyer.

In the early Spring, temperatures begin to rise, and people start to feel good and enthusiastic about venturing to the mountains to search for a potentially good land deal. This group of landbuyers are motivated by warmer temperatures, and the new color and smells associated with Spring.

The late Spring and Summer bring out a new type of landbuyer. Schools are getting out, and families are beginning to plan their trip to the North Carolina Mountains in search of the perfect tract of land that they've been talking about. Summer temperatures in the mountains are very conducive to enjoying outdoor recreation activities, but also make it the perfect time to hike and explore mountain properties for sale. 

Autumn in the North Carolina Mountains brings to mind thoughts of amazing changing colors. "Leaf Season", as many call it, together with cooling temperatures, draws especially large crowds to the mountains during the month of October. Families often combine their trip to the mountains at this time of the year with an opportunity to find a great land investment opportunity.

There are quite a few that consider the cold season as the perfect time to travel to the mountains to enjoy Winter sports and a chance to huddle up with family around the fireplace. Wintertime landbuyers recognize the advantage of not having to deal with pesky tall weeds and insects, and being able to gauge the views through the trees while the leaves are off.

Regardless of what type seasonal landbuyer you might be, don't hesitate to come out and let us show you land that meets your goals and expectations. At NC Mountain Land LLC you can expect to be shown land during any Season. 

Oct. 30, 2015

Land Broker -The Telltale Signs

Thinking of investing for the first time in a large tract of land? Chances are you need a land broker to share their expertise to help you find a property that closely matches your search criteria, and to help you make the best deal possible.

A land broker is unlike most real estate agents dealing with residential or commercial property. A land broker is unique in that he or she specializes in land, and is able to guide you through the process of identifying potentially suitable properties that best match your goals and objectives, rain or shine! If your agent is wearing office shoes, drives a luxury sedan, and pulls up to the property and tells you "There it is. Take your time...", then they are probably not a land broker.

What makes a land broker so different from a residential or commercial specialist, you might ask? Well, a land broker employs a different set of tools in getting the job done. Everything from what a land broker drives, to what he or she wears to brave the outdoors, and their level of understanding of physical aspects of the land are only a portion of the qualities and traits that distinguish them as a land broker from other types of real estate specialists.

Another common trait among land brokers is their understanding of surveys, rights-of-way, or being able to point to areas and features of a property that could be worked on to improve the appeal and salability of a property with minimal cost.

Starting with mode of transportation, a landbroker in this area of North Carolina typically drives a four-wheel drive vehicle. Either a pickup or SUV with real 4WD, different from AWD, is essential in being able to transport more than 2 or 3 people when looking at land, transporting outdoor gear of different sorts, and pulling a trailer with a suitable UTV.

A land broker that is serious about scouting a newly listed tract of land, or showing prospective buyers in and around a property, typically will be pulling a trailer with a 4WD utility vehicle. In our experience, most buyers are not used to strenuous hiking, so being able to show them a property thoroughly, down in the hollows and up on the ridges requires the use of a utility vehicle.

Also, an experienced land broker will refer to aerial and topographical maps, or may employ a GPS or any number of land-related mobile apps to assist in navigation over especially large tracts of land. Often along logging roads there will be fallen trees, so carrying a chainsaw is a necessity. When showing land, a broker may carry along a back pack with water bottles, a first aid kit, insect repellent and other certain tools and supplies that could come in handy.

Want to know more about the qualities and traits of a land broker? Then, you are welcome to spend time, and let Chris Breden show you around property that meets your search criteria. Contact Chris today!


Sept. 21, 2015

Finding A Land Broker

Selecting The Right Agent To Represent You

If you're trying to buy a new home, or sell your home, chances are that you are familiar with the most prominent real estate companies in your area. You know, the ones whose ads you see all the time in the local paper, on billboards, and on the side of the road in the yard of homes "For Sale". You'd probably go with your gut instinct, and pick the one with the name that you recognize the most. 

Likely, any of these prominent real estate companies would do a fair job of selling your home because selling homes is their specialty. But what about if one day you decide that you'd want to sell your 50 or 500-acre parcel? Would you hire one of those same real estate companies that do such a fine job at selling homes? You may want to first inquire whether they have a broker in their office that specializes in land. On occasion, a real estate office might have an agent that has sold a land parcel at some point, but does that make them a qualified land broker?

In finding a land broker, you'd probably want to dig a little deeper. Even if an individual agent in a particular real estate office has had some experience with land sales, if the company's advertising doesn't suggest that they specialize in land sales, what reason would there be for you to select them to represent you as your Seller's Agent? Perhaps another more important question would be, why would a prospective buyer looking to purchase a large tract of land inquire with a real estate company that clearly promotes themselves as a homes real estate office? Whether you are a prospective Buyer or Seller of land, you will want to take the time in finding a land broker, that means a broker that specializes in land.

Once you think that you've found a broker that specializes in land, then there are a number of criteria that you'll want to take into consideration in qualifying them. Stay tuned! -Look for an upcoming blog post that will list a number of important criteria that will help you identify the right land broker for you.

Sept. 14, 2015

Information For Buyers and Sellers

In dealing with large tracts of land, making available information for buyers and sellers becomes very important. A great deal of the same information will apply to both sides, but as a Buyer of a large tract of land, one must be equipped with as much information as necessary to be able to make an informed decision on a purchase.

Closing on a land purchase involves significant amounts of cash and financing costs, so as a buyer you want to ask a lot of questions, and gather as much information as you can on different aspects of the particular property and the area. Knowing the size, shape and location of the property is only the first step in understanding a tract of land.

There are other aspects that you also want to become familiar with, including but not limited to zoning and ordinances, flooding, soils, topography, building and environmental restrictions, permissible uses, future planning for the area, historical land values, environmental hazards, amenities, etc.

Assuming that all aspects of the property work in your favor and you Close on your purchase, then you transition from being a Land Buyer into being a Land Owner. As a land owner you will want to continue to learn about your property, and how to improve it over time and capitalize on its use value. Eventually, as a land owner, you may become a Land Seller, which would bring you around full circle.

This is the reason why information for Buyers and sellers of land is in essence the same, although parts of it become more important depending where in the cycle you find yourself.

At NC Mountain Land LLC we can provide Buyers and Sellers of land with the right type of information to meet their goals and expectations. Contact Us!