Frequently Asked QuestionsWe want to sell our property, can you handle the sale and how much will it cost?
What are percolation tests?
What are the advantages and disadvantages to owner financing?
What are closing costs?
Can I get a well?
Do I get the mineral rights to my property?
Why is it so hard to find property with big trees at a reasonable price?
How can I tell if the property has a pond site?
Can I put the title in my childs name?
Do I need a new survey, and who pays for it?
What does the attorney do at a closing?
What is a land contract or a bond for title?
What is a security deed?
How do I keep uninvited hunters off of my property?
We want to sell our property, can you handle the sale and how much will it cost?
Brashear Realty has been in the real estate industry for 30 years. We have extensive experience in land, farms, acreage, investment and commercial real estate. We have successfully handled thousands of property transfers over the years. We will be happy to assist anyone in the sale of their property. We can show you what are the most sellable features of your property as well as any potential pitfalls. It is our business to make your property sell.
How to start process of listing and selling (brief)
As to the cost of selling your property we will charge a 10% commission of the selling price on all acreage tracts and commercial properties. Estate tracts and others with homes we will try to negotiate a fair commission for all parties involved.We think it is important to remember that you only pay us for services if we are successful in bringing a buyer to the closing table.If we cant sell your property then you owe us absolutely nothing.What are percolation tests?
On many properties out in the rural country you will often find that there is no city or county water or a sewage system. In these cases it becomes necessary to install your own well for water and a septic system for your sewerage needs. Before you can have a septic system installed you must first have the property inspected by the county health officials. On many tracts, it is merely a formality as a quick visual inspection by the county official will be enough to approve the septic system. In some cases however, a more detailed inspection by a licensed soil engineer is required. This is a percolation test.
Percolation tests are tests done on property to determine if it is suitable to hold a septic system. These tests are done to ensure that the soil can absorb water and other liquids quickly enough to leave the surrounding area unpolluted by waste materials.These tests are conducted by drilling holes into the soil, filling them with water and logging the amount of time it takes to dissipate into the soil. They also take into consideration the types of soil on the property and depth of the soil formations.
By doing these tests an engineer can tell you if the soil can support the kind of septic system that will be required for your home. If the soil is problematic they can usually tell you where on your tract will be suitable or suggest other special septic systems that might work.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to owner financing?
There are many advantages and a few disadvantages to owner financing. As a potential seller or buyer you should know the benefits and potential pitfalls of both. Owner financing is a very valuable tool.This is an option many sellers and buyers will often discard without giving it any serious thought.This could be a mistake.
For the Seller
The greatest asset to owner financing is that it allows many potential buyers consider your property that would be left out by asking cash or by expecting them to get a loan through more conventional means.This can greatly increase your prospective pool of buyers thereby making your property more likely to sell, and more likely to sell quickly. Many buyers who may be interested and can easily afford your property may have problems that make it cumbersome to obtain a loan conventionally. They might not have the large down payment normally required by banks. They might be afraid of the intimidating process of financially qualifying. Perhaps they have a new spouse with prior financial problems? They also may not have a good relationship with their bank or may distrust financial institutions.
A second advantage could be substantial tax savings. If you owner finance certain sales of capital assets, the government allows you to elect to declare the income as it is received instead of paying it in the year of sale. If you have a moderate income, a single lump sum sale can place you in a bracket much higher than you might otherwise be. Spreading the income out over a period of years reduces the rate at which it is taxed.
A third advantage to owner financing is that it is usually far simpler for both the buyer and the seller to close the sale. Banks can be slow and cumbersome. Often they require loads of paperwork and months of loan qualifications. They can take interminable amounts of time with no guarantee that they will even close. With owner financing there is very little paperwork and can usually be closed as quickly as the parties can come to terms and the lawyers can generate the paperwork.
A fourth advantage to owner financing is that it can generate a steady income stream.This can be a wonderful thing to many people, particularly retired individuals living on fixed incomes. Cash in the bank has traditionally yielded a poor interest rate return. Sellers can supplement their monthly income and relieve some of the stress that may come from having expenses that equal or exceed their income. The seller can determine the length of the financing which means they can structure the financing for as little as a few months or as long as thirty years. Thirty years of supplemental income on a monthly basis can be very helpful to many individuals. In addition to this asset the seller can control the terms of the financing instead of a bank. For example, if a buyer needs a lower down payment but can make a substantial balloon payment in six months or a year a seller can work out these type of details where as a bank may not. Receiving a balloon payment at a specified period of time might make it easier to plan when you might buy a car or other big-ticket item. This allows you to control your income stream as you see fit.
A final advantage of owner financing is that it can often allow a seller to get a slightly higher price for their property than if they didnt offer it. Because of the relative ease on the part of the buyer and by the lower degree of difficulty in getting the loan, buyers will often be willing to pay a slightly higher price if they know they wont have to deal with all the paperwork or the embarrassment of being denied a loan.
The main disadvantage to owner financing is that many sellers simply arent in position to do it. If you have a large loan that must be paid off in order to sell a property (such as a mortgage on a home), your terms will hardly be competitive with a bank if you cant afford to pay off the note yourself. Secondly, many sellers need the large lump sum of cash for a specific reason. A down payment on a new home for example. They are more in need of a lump sum of cash than they are in need of steady income stream.
The second disadvantage of owner financing is the possibility of default by the buyer.If the buyer fails to pay you have lost your income stream. You are now forced to foreclose. This isnt as huge a disadvantage as many perceive it to be. Georgia is a non-judicial foreclosure state. This means you dont have to go to court to foreclose. Any attorney can handle this for you and takes merely 30 to 45 days. Its cost is usually nominal in relation to the funds owed. The cost of a foreclosure is usually as little as $500. At foreclosure you will either get your property back and you keep all monies that have been paid to you, or you are paid in full, including any costs incurred collecting your money.
Beware of any agreements asking you to subordinate your loan to any other loans.This is fraught with danger and may cost you lots of money to protect your funds. If you are not the first lien be very careful before proceeding.
Owner financing is the most expeditious way to purchase raw land. Banks or other lenders usually require down payments in the range of 25 to 50 percent of the price at which you want to purchase, unless you have other collateral to include in the loan. The closing costs may incur additional expenses which are not necessary in owner financing including loan origination fees, appraisal fees, loan application fees, credit reporting fees, and discount points. Interest rates charged on land loans are usually substantially higher than those associated with home loans. Owner financing can be a competitive rate advantage.
The closing time for owner financing can much shorter since many of the complexities are not a part of the transaction.
On the down side there are fewer protections to the buyer. You must negotiate your own best deal based on your knowledge.
What are closing costs?
Closing costs are those costs that usually incurred at the time of closing.Closings are usually conducted by attorneys, although they are not required. The attorney will handle all aspects of the closing and will solve the paperwork nuisances that sometimes crop up. The costs incurred at a farms or acreage closing usually include attorneys fees, intangible tax, pro-rata share of ad valorem taxes, real estate commission, and recording fees and any loan origination fees. Many real estate closings are done for well under $500. Often the most expensive costs are the attorneys fees and, depending on the size of the loan, the intangibles tax. Attorneys fees vary with the attorney but usually range from $250 to $350 on most simple transactions. This can change depending on the complexity of the closing. Intangibles tax is a tax paid to the state based on the amount of the loan. The amount varies from state to state but in Georgia it is calculated at $1.50 per $500 in loaned funds. In small loans, the tax is fairly small, but you can see that if it is a large transaction with borrowed funds this can be a substantial cost. Next are prorata share of ad valorem taxes. These are the property taxes for the year. They are usually paid by both parties in proportion to the amount of time they owned the tract in the year of the sale. For example, if the seller owned the tract for the first three months of the year and the buyer closed on the property on the last day of the third month, the seller would pay one quarter of the yearly bill while the buyer would pay the remaining three quarters. Real estate commissions are considered a closing cost but are simply deducted from the sellers proceeds at closing. They are whatever the seller and broker have agreed to. It can be a flat fee or a percentage of the selling price. Recording fees are the fees required by the county to record the deed and security deed. They vary from county to county but are not a large expense.Loan origination fees are fees required by many lenders to process the paperwork necessary for a loan. These costs are most often associated with bank loans and not with owner financing.
In residential sales there are quite often many other costs that may or may not also be included such as termite letters, survey costs and home inspections. As we specialize mainly in land sales I will not get in a lengthy discussion of these however we are vastly experienced in all aspects of the closing and the costs associated with it and would be happy to discuss these items at further length with you about your property.
Closings costs, with the exception of the commission and their portion of the property taxes, are customarily the responsibility of the buyer.However, this is not the law and the seller and buyer may negotiate any or all of these costs as they see fit.
Can I get a well?
When dealing with rural property you will rarely ever find that county or city water will service your tract.In this case you must install a well. Wells are very common in Georgia and can be found in almost all areas of Georgia. In order to get a well you must hire a well driller. They will come out and inspect your property and where you wish to have the well and will then go about installing one. They will basically drill to a depth at which they reach water. In some cases this may be as quickly as twenty to thirty feet, in others it may be as deep as six hundred feet. The cost is usually related to the depth the well must be drilled. Cost vary typically from $2,000 to $5,000.
In most areas of Georgia, wells are common and hitting a good stream of potable water is not a problem.
Do I get the mineral rights to my property?
The short answer to this question is yes, usually. However, there are certain times when they are not included. This is question that is sometimes asked by buyers, particularly in areas where minerals are often mined. Many buyers who are familiar with the kaolin industry in Washington County, Georgia understand that this may be an important question to ask. In certain areas where there are important or valuable minerals, such as the kaolin in Washington County, this problem can come up quite often. When a person owns a property fee simple this means they own the property and all the rights with it. A piece of real estate conveyed fee simple consists of the surface rights, the subsurface rights, the mineral rights, the timber rights, and even the air rights.You would own all of these rights without exception. The problem occurs however when someone sells some portion of their rights in a property without the rest. In areas such as Washington County, it is not uncommon at all for individuals to sell or lease the mineral rights of their property to a kaolin company.I have heard of many instances where buyers purchase a tract only to discover later that there is a mineral lease on that particular property or that the mineral rights were not included.When a seller sells a tract, they can only sell what rights they have in a property. If a seller sold the mineral rights, and then subsequently chose to sell their property, they can indeed sell their property but the mineral rights will not be included.
This can be a real problem for both buyers and sellers. When mineral rights are sold, they are sold. They cannot be retrieved without purchasing them back from the corporation or individual who now holds title to them. Mineral rights are just like any other piece of Real Estate, they can be bargained, sold or traded as many times as the owners may choose. As mineral rights are quite often purchased by large corporations, many times these corporations have no interest in selling them back. A mineral lease is nearly as bad, for the lessee has all rights of ownership on the minerals for a predetermined amount of time. These leases are negotiated by corporations, so their duration is usually very long. Sometimes as long 50 years with options for renewal.
The question is what does this mean to a buyer or seller.Well, without the mineral rights to a property its value is substantially diminished. Building a home becomes a virtual impossibility. When someone else owns the mineral rights, they have the right to remove them whenever they wish. If they have to timber the property and remove your house to get at them then so be it. If they choose to mine your property it could be a disaster for the owner. As a buyer you must recognize that the without the mineral rights you are buying a piece of property that could be mined at any time. The worst part of this is that you were not even paid for them. The owner who sold them received all of the funds. From a landowners point of view, trying to sell a property without the mineral rights will be a very daunting task. Many prospective buyers will balk at the concept of purchasing a property without the mineral rights. Those buyers who are willing to purchase it will not usually offer you anything near what would be considered market value for your tract if it contained the mineral rights.
Now this does not mean that all mineral leases are bad. For some owners this is a very reasonable option. In many cases, properties where the mineral rights are leased or even sold the tracts are never mined at all. For someone who wants a steady income stream to help pay property taxes or simply for supplemental income it can be a good choice. They simply must recognize the consequences of selling or leasing these rights may have for the future marketability of the tract.
The bottom line of all of this is that in most cases and in most places you will get the mineral rights to the property. As a buyer, you should get an attorney to check the title on the property. If the mineral rights have been sold or leased a title search should reveal this fact. As a seller you should inform any prospective buyers that the mineral rights are not included. While this may eliminate some buyers it may prevent a lawsuit later.
Why is it so hard to find property with big trees at a reasonable price?
This is a very common question that has a very simple answer.Large, mature trees can have a substantial monetary value. When buying a property you pay not only for the dirt that you stand on but also for location, improvements and anything that holds value on the property. Many people do not realize how much money 150 acres of timber can be worth. Their value varies depending on age, size, and species of tree and the strength of the timber market. At the right time, with the right timber, I have seen some tracts net more than $3,000 per acre for their timber. If you have 150 acres at that price you are looking at nearly half of one million dollars in one lump sum!
Sellers are usually quite aware of the fact that large timber can be of great value. Because of this they have two options to consider when selling their property. They can either timber the tract for the funds and then sell the land, or they can sell the property as is with timber standing. Sellers usually have a set idea of what they believe their property to be worth.They will attempt to arrive at this price or better regardless of which option they take. What this means to a buyer is youre going to pay for the value in the trees if theyre still on the property. This means you will be paying what seems like a high price, but you are simply paying the seller for what he could have gotten on the tract by cutting the timber, plus the value of the land. Now however, you own the timber and may exercise the right to cut it to recoup some of your costs. The other option is to cut the timber and then sell the land after the timber is removed. This will remove some of the sticker shock but the property will look less aesthetically pleasing.
Many buyers make the mistake of comparing properties by price based on location. While this is one factor involved, it is by no means the only one. Just because two tracts are right next to each other does not mean they are worth the same thing.Many buyers dont understand that there can be substantial value in the timber. If they dont want to pay the seller enough to leave the timber standing he will simply generate the revenue by cutting the timber. Then he can sell the much less attractive piece for a low enough price to seem competitive. This is why tracts with big timber always seem to have much higher prices compared to other tracts in the same general area.
How can I tell if the property has a pond site?
The best way to answer this question is by first defining what a pond site is.A pond site is an area or location on a tract where it is possible to construct a pond. One thing that many prospective buyers do not truly understand is that many tracts simply dont have a pond site. I have spoken to many buyers who strongly desire to own a pond. Upon discovering they cant afford, or cant find a tract with one already on it, they then begin to discuss building one.<>There is more to building a pond than some people think.There are several factors that come into play when building a pond. The first, and unquestionably the most important, is to have a source of water. Just because you dig a whole does not mean it will necessarily fill with water. In most cases it will not, beyond a few inches of rainwater. There are two main sources that are used for building a pond. These are either springheads or creeks. Both of which are usually very reliable as long as they produce a steady year round flow of water.Some creeks and springs have a seasonal flow or a flow that is sporadic. These can still be used to build good quality ponds but you must realize that in times of drought your pond may lose depth and may even go dry.
Spring fed ponds tend to be more a little more dependable. They are more consistent in regards to their depth and they are less affected by the weather than creek fed ponds. (Some people have trouble determining if and where they have a spring. The best way is to go looking in the bottoms and hillsides for areas that appear to be wet or are holding standing water after it has been dry and sunny for a week or so. If you still have standing water or very wet muddy soil in these areas it is likely there is a spring.) Creek fed ponds tend to go dryer in times of drought and fill to nearly over capacity in extended times of heavy rain.You are more likely to have a dam break on a creek fed pond than on a spring fed pond. However, a good engineer can correctly assess and handle most of these problems without too much difficulty. There are some obstacles that can be overcome when building a pond but if you do not have a source of water it is very difficult to make it work. I have seen ponds that have been built using wells to fill and regulate them and their depth. This can be done but it is far from ideal. A well can be an expensive cost to add to this process and even then it may not guarantee a successful pond.
In addition to having a source of water, proper terrain is very helpful. The best type of terrain is to have a low point flanked on two sides by a steep slope with the source running directly through the center. This allows for the pond to be constructed with smallest dam possible. This is important because the largest cost involved in pond construction is usually the cost of the dam. It is very important when constructing a pond that the dam is built capable of containing the influx of water that will be running into and out of your pond.
The source and terrain are the two most important factors for prospective buyers and sellers to look for when determining if there is a pond site on a tract. There are others factors involved but for a simple determination these two things will suffice. Beyond this it will take an expert in the construction field or an engineer to best determine the way to most effectively construct a pond. As long as you have a water source, be it spring or creek or even a well, it is possible to construct a pond. However, with a proper pond site it is much less difficult and lot less costly.
Can I put the title in my childs name?
This is a very testy question. Once again, the short answer to this question is yes. However, there are an awful lot of legal ramifications to doing this if your child is a minor. If your child is not a minor you can still place the title in their name but there are some consequences to that action as well. There are some pros and cons to this question that I will discuss here for the readers personal edification, but before embarking on this course of action I strongly suggest you consult an attorney and advise him of any special circumstances or of your particular goals in this action. I am not a lawyer; so do not construe anything here to be legal advice.
You may title a tract that you have purchased in the name of your minor child, you may use and enjoy the property just as if you owned it as the childs guardian. The property, however, becomes legally owned by the child with all the rights and empowerments that go with it. The problem lies in the fact that the child may not sell it. In the state of Georgia, minors may not sell or give title to real estate. While there is nothing in the law that would prevent them from buying it or it being given to them they may not sell it. This means that once the property is bought it cannot be sold under any circumstances until the minor reaches the age of majority. Once the child reaches the age of majority they may sell it keep it or dispose of it however they wish. Regardless of whether you approve of what they do with it or not. You may have wanted to invest money in the land and then sell it for proceeds to fund education. Unfortunately if the child chooses to sell it and go romping around the world for a year or two they can. As it is legally their property, any proceeds will be in a check made out to them at closing. You would have no control over the funds. This is the main problem with titling a property in the name of a minor or adult child. There is no problem with it as long as you accept that you will have little to no control over how it is used or how it is disposed of.
Depending on what your goals are for possibly placing the property in your childs name, there may be a better alternative. A trust is a valuable tool for many individuals who wish to use it. You can place real estate, funds and other items in a trust for a child in which you or anyone you choose can be trustee. >The funds within the trust can be used for any purpose that is allowed for in the original trust agreement. The trust can be structured to accomplish a wide variety of goals while still allowing for you to have control over your minor childs future funds.
I strongly advise that before creating a trust or titling property in a minors name that you consult an attorney versed in these fields and explain to them exactly what you are trying to accomplish. There are many things that may be involved in these actions and you should be aware of them all before making a decision on what is right for you.
Do I need a new survey, and who pays for it?
Farms and acreage is a little different than most residential sales. In almost all residential sales the lender will require a new survey if an existing one is older than 18 months with some variance depending on the loan company. In farms and acreage however this is not always the case. In land sales you deal with many more local banks and much more owner financing where they dont always have the same hard and fast rules.
The best way to answer this question is to deal directly with what a survey does. Why is a survey ever done? A survey is done for a couple reasons. The first reason is to define exactly where the line is. It is absolutely vital for any property owner to know where their property lines are situated. On residential property this is usually not necessary. The line is clearly defined by a fence or some other man made object. The lines are almost never in question and are quite obvious to a quick inspection. For acreage property this is quite often not the case. Very likely the lines are differentiated by nothing at all except for a plat recorded in the courthouse in which the property lies. These lines are not usually discernable by a quick inspection of the property on the ground. If the survey is recent the lines may be cut down and either pins or fence posts may be placed on the lines. If the survey is old however, the lines may be overgrown and nearly impossible to find without a compass. Even then they may be difficult to locate. In this case it is often advisable to have a survey done. Some owners may know exactly where the lines are even if there are no visible indicators of where it may lie. As long as the two owners who share the line are in agreement it rarely causes a problem. If however the line is not easily and clearly marked or the owners are in some dispute over where the lines are it is wise to have a survey done to remove any question as to where the line actually is.
The second reason a survey is done is to determine whether or not there are any encroachments present on the property.Sometimes when a line has not been defined for a long period of time a neighbor may build a fence, put a garden, erect a permanent structure or begin to otherwise encroach onto your property. This can cause a myriad of problems for an owner. They can create a cloud on the title and can even lead to loss of acreage in the case of adverse possession. It is important to be aware of your property lines and to be ever watchful of your neighbors. Time is against the owner in these circumstances and the faster you recognize an encroachment the better. A survey will spot any encroachments and bring them to your attention.
A third reason to have a survey done is to correctly gauge acreage. If you deal in farms and acreage tracts long enough you will inevitably come across a tract that has been held in one family for many generations. In this case you will quite often find that a recent survey has not been done. There may not even be a recorded survey in the courthouse. (In my area I have even found a few circumstances in which the plat was once recorded but was burned, along with the courthouse, by Shermans Northern armies on their march to the sea.) The surveys that they have, if they are recorded in the courthouse, may be well over 100 years old. These surveys are done in chains or, if they old enough, in paces. Needless to say these surveys are not nearly as precise as the surveys that are done today. The boundaries on the ground may be very clearly defined and agreed on by all parties, but may not agree with the survey in the courthouse. The acreage on the ground may not coincide with the acreage on the plat. In this case a survey should definitely be done. Especially if the price to be paid is based on a per acre price. If the tract is large enough the difference could be as much as ten to twenty acres (although this is rare).
A final reason is to correct prior survey error. This is an extremely rare circumstance but it occasionally does happen. Surveyors are human and sometimes make mistakes. A lot of times these mistakes are difficult to detect as most people simply accept what the surveyor tells them. Usually you wont ever know, but if there is a discrepancy between the distances on the plat and the distances on the ground you should probably have another survey done.
The bottom line on all of this is a survey is not absolutely necessary, but it can be very wise. If you are dealing with a property where the lines are clearly discernable, all parties agree on where the lines are, and there are no noticeable encroachments, it probably isnt required. If any one of these is not true then it may be wise to have a survey done to clear up any ambiguities that may exist.
The next question is who pays for a survey. If you are someone not looking to sell and you discover a potential problem, obviously you would pay for the survey. What happens if you are selling and a buyer wants a survey? It is customary for a buyer to pay for the survey, but like most things in real estate, this is totally negotiable.
What does the attorney do at a closing?
This is a question I must get asked at least once for nearly every buyer I have. I also get Why do we even need an attorney? A lot of people who own farms and acreage property are not businessmen. Quite often they dont ever use attorneys and view them with thinly veiled distrust. They may not have used an attorney when they bought it or may have inherited it and never dealt with one. While many attorneys would chastise me for saying so, an attorney is not legally required to conduct a closing. There are only three categories of people who may legally conduct a closing. Principals (i.e. buyers and sellers), real estate brokers, and attorneys. Nevertheless, they should almost always be used. The reason is the services that they provide. While none of them are absolutely necessary almost all of them are very valuable and well worth the fairly nominal cost.
The first and foremost service of the attorney is that the attorney will search the title.This is by far the most important service that the attorney provides for a closing. The attorney will go and search the title for any clouds, liens, encumbrances or defects. If there is something there that a buyer is not aware of then this will reveal it. If for example the mineral rights have been sold, a title search will reveal this fact. As a buyer this fact will not be readily apparent from a visual inspection of the property but it will clearly affect your use of the property. The property could also have another type of title defect. For example, a seller may not be totally honest and may have other owners who they dont tell you about. They might have a sibling or estranged spouse who they dont want to know theyre selling their land in hopes they can leave with all the funds. The problem here is that a seller can only sell their interest in a piece of land. If they only own a half interest they can only sell a half interest. If you dont have an attorney do a title search you may not realize that all parties are not present. You may pay what you believe to be a fair price for the whole tract and acquire only a half interest. You may discover the circumstances after the fact but the other seller may be long gone with your funds. An attorney will discover these facts and prevent you from making these types of mistakes.
A second thing that attorneys do is to prepare all the legal documents. This is a very important service as faulty documents can be the death of a sale or can lead to potential lawsuits down the road. They will prepare the deed, which is of vital importance in a sale. You MUST have a deed that will withstand a legal challenge in order for you to have good title to a tract. They also will prepare a security deed. If you are owner financing this is the most important document at a closing. Without it you have no means to foreclose on the property to protect your loaned funds. They will also prepare an owners affidavit and determine what your share of prorata taxes will be for the year. These are all important facets of what an attorney does at closing. Without proper preparation of these documents you are asking for trouble down the road.
A third thing an attorney can do at closing is to offer title insurance. This is something you dont see a whole lot of in Georgia. Many states use title insurance but it is a service that has not caught on in Georgia. Some relocation programs and large national lenders require it but many do not. The truth is as long as you receive a warranty deed and pay for an attorney to certify a title; title insurance may be redundant coverage. A warranty deed means the seller is guaranteeing to defend the title against anyone claiming an interest at their own cost. An attorney would also be liable if the incorrectly certified a title. You could sue for indemnification from either or both. Still you cant get blood from a stone. If they cant financially do it your title insurance will cover the cost. A competent attorney will most likely discover any pitfalls before closing and either fix them or inform you of them and let you decide whether or not to proceed to close.
Overall, and in most cases, I highly advise the use of an attorney. There are some special circumstances in which they may not be necessary, but as a general rule it is always wise to use one. If it is an inside transaction between a father and son or between business partners where a closing has already been done or both parites are in the loop on all happenings of a tract it may not be necessary. This assumes that both parties are fully aware of the property and everything about it. Even then they must know how to generate the legal documents and properly record them, and conduct a title search themselves if they are able. These are about the only circumstances that I can readily think of in which an attorney is not a must. If you dont fit that scenario, forego the use of an attorney at your own peril.
What is a land contract of a bond for title?
Land contract or bond for title is a way for an owner to sell their property. It is similar to owner financing with one huge difference. In standard owner financing a seller gives a deed to the buyer and then receives a security deed (this will be discussed further in the next question) from the buyer as collateral for the loan. In the circumstance of a land contract or bond for title the seller does not give the buyer a deed at the time of closing. The buyer signs a land contract agreement and then occupies the property. The buyer then pays a predetermined monthly amount for a predetermined amount of time, both of which are specified in the land contract. At the end of the contract term the seller then signs a deed to the property over to the buyer. In its most simplistic aspect this basically amounts to a rent-to-own situation for the buyer.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to this method of selling a piece of property. Unfortunately for the buyer, most of the upside lies with seller. There is very little positive about a land contract for a buyer. The whole concept behind a land contract is that it allows a seller to owner finance their land without having to deal with the sometimes onerous process of foreclosure. The seller never gives the buyer a deed to the property, so the tract is still owned by the seller, even though the buyer has occupied the land and is paying for it on a monthly basis. In this case, as the seller still owns the land, if the buyer ceases to pay for the land the seller may simply get a dispossess warrant and have the prospective buyer removed. They need not go through the foreclosure process. This, in and of itself, is not so bad as it is just a shorter and less costly form of foreclosure. The problem with land contract sales is that buyers have nothing to protect their interests. In a standard owner-financing situation they become the owners. They may pay on a note but they own the property and all the rights accompanying ownership. In a land contract the buyers have no rights whatsoever besides their land contract. In the event that a seller does do something unethical the buyer has little recourse available to them. I am familiar with one situation where a seller sold many small tracts on a land contract basis. He also borrowed a large sum of money with the tracts as collateral. He could not pay the note and the bank foreclosed on the property. He had sold a large sum of the property but because it was on land contracts the bank forced the erstwhile buyers off of their tracts. They had no real option to defend their right in the property but to sue in court. As the buyers had no capital to pursue this option they thus lost their property.
The biggest benefit for the seller is not having to go through the foreclosure process. Georgia is a non-judicial foreclosure state however, so there is not a real problem in effecting a foreclosure. A certified letter, 4 weeks of advertising and an auction on the courthouse steps are all that is required. I have spoken to several lawyers on this subject and most have advised me that one should go through the foreclosure process even if you have sold your property via land contract for liability reasons. This really takes away the only major advantage of this process for the seller.
As a buyer I would try to avoid this method if at all possible. It really gives you no method to defend yourself against an unethical or misguided seller. If you must go with this option I would advise you to make the seller sign a land contract that is in a recordable form. This means a witness and a notary must sign it. This allows you to record your interest in the property and anyone, including a bank, who searches the title will now of your interest and be forced to deal with it. As a seller this allows you to sell to people with a less than stellar credit history, but you gain little, as it is some lawyers opinion that you should still go through the foreclosure process. As a seller I would advise you to consider another option as this one gains you little but could be fraught with liability.
What is a security deed?
Georgia is a unique state in the union in how it deals with its real estate. In Georgia when you borrow money to buy a home or another piece of real estate, you do not sign a mortgage as in most states. In Georgia you sign a security deed. It essentially is a mortgage. Every time you borrow money with real estate as collateral from a lending institution or an individual you will sign one. At a closing the seller will sign a deed over to you. You, as the buyer, will sign a security deed to the lender. The deed transfers title to you. The security deed is a document that pledges the property back to the lender in the event that you cannot meet the financial obligation you agreed to in the promissory note. The reason you sign a security deed and not a mortgage is in the method of which the property is returned to the lender. Georgia is the only state in the union which to my knowledge is still a nonjudicial foreclosure state.The security deed declares that should you not meet your financial obligation in what way the lender is to be compensated. A mortgage is predicated on judicial foreclosure. In Georgia, should you fail to meet your obligation the lender must do three things.First, they must send a certified letter to your last known address. Next they must advertise the property for four consecutive weeks in the legal organ of the county in which the property is located. After this they must auction the property on the courthouse steps of the county in which the property id located on the first Tuesday of the month following the four weeks of advertisement. At the auction the highest bidder gets the property. Usually the lender is the highest bidder bidding in at what they are owed plus attorneys fees. The security deed is simply the legal document, which allows the lender to do this. I have heard some lawyers use the phrase You dont pay, you dont stay. That is the simplest way to describe what the security does. Georgia is a very friendly state for lenders so buyers should e aware that if they cant pay for a property they should be leery of buying it. In judicial foreclosure states this process can be very costly and as slow as six months to a year or longer. In Georgia this process takes usually only four to six weeks. It is also far less expensive due to less legal fees and court costs.
How do I keep uninvited hunters off of my property?Uninvited hunters are a problem that can plague many property owners. There is only one way to totally insure that unwanted hunters will stay off of your property. Live on it. If that is not your plan for the property in question there are several things you can do that might reduce the presence of uninvited hunters on your property.
The first is to make your presence known on the tract. Hunters are not usually very confrontational. They know if they are on property where they are allowed or not. If they think youre watching or that you might catch them in the act they will find somewhere else to hunt. Hunters know if there is an awful lot of vacant land in an area where they like to hunt. If they believe you dont actively visit your land they will become more adventurous and often will try hunting it in your absence. Hunters will usually go scouting prior to deer season and you can look for signs of their activity. They will leave survey tape and markers a lot of the time so they can remember where they were scouting and what areas they have visited recently and whether or not it looked promising. If you remove their signs they will take it as notice that you are paying attention and do not wish to have hunters on your land. Uninvited hunters are not generally hostile. They simply think youll never know the difference. If you make it clear that you will, they will move on and find an easier and less well trafficked place to set up shop.
The second is to post your property. If you post your property with clear and numerous signs stated that no hunting is allowed hunters will take this as a clear and present sign that you are paying attention and do not wish to have uninvited guests. There is also a second benefit to posting your property. It serves notice to the hunters so if the ranger does catch them hunting your land unauthorized there will be consequences. Hunters dont want to pay fines for something they can do elsewhere without the threat of fines, even if your land is more fertile with game. It also makes it more difficult for them to say they mistook your property for their neighbors/cousins/bosses. The more signs the better. They should be placed prominently at all road entrances and along any public road that your property borders.
The third is to consider leasing your property for hunting. Many owners dont want to lease their property but it can be a powerful tool. Hunters very carefully guard their hunting grounds. If someone is out there who shouldnt be, then they will quickly and definitively run them off.The main benefit to this methid is that you can control who hunts and by what rules they must abide.If your land has good hunting, they will work hard to preserve that lease.The main reason that some owners dont want unauthorized hunting is for liability reasons.If someone is hurt on your land, even without your permission, you could be held liable.If you have a lease agreement with some hunters you can include a hold harmless clause in your hunting lease.You can also require them to carry an insurance policy to protect you in the event that someone should get hurt.If you lease your property you have basically acquired the best caretakers you could ask for as long as you select the group carefully.They will help maintain the property and rid it of unwanted guests.
If you use one or more of these tactics you may not rid yourself of all unwanted hunting of your property, but you will certainly reduce it greatly. There are good reasons why as an owner you dont want unwanted hunters. They can get injured, they can damage your property, or if you are trying to sell they can run off good prospects. The best thing you can do is to not be an absentee owner. If you are present and involved with your land you can keep the unwanted guests at a minimum.