Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Do I Need To Know About Maintaining My Property Lines?

I sold a tract of land in Meriwether County this week and the buyer asked me about a survey. We had a very old survey and the boundary lines had once been painted by a timber company. I worked out a fee for service arrangement and painted the property lines. I decided this might be a good topic to blog. Maintaining property lines and boundaries is one of the most often overlooked forms of protection from timber theft, trespass, and encroachment.  I recommend having the property lines painted every 5 – 8 years. You might also consider putting up ‘posted’ signs as well. Survey work can be very expensive so a good boundary line program can actually save you money and other problems as well. We’ll discuss these as well. 

Farmers and ranchers generally use barbed wire (also referenced to as devil wire) fences. If you own a wooded tract or a large number of acres, this is not practical. Maintaining your property lines  is imperative when undertaking a timber harvest.  It also can be helpful if there are any trespass issues.  Knowing where your property is located on the face of the earth can go a long way for a landowner’s peace of mind. Frequent maintain can help ward off an adverse possession claim.  Adverse possession A method of gaining legal title to real property by the actual, open, hostile, and continuous possession of it to the exclusion of its true owner for the period prescribed by state law.

 If your property has been previously marked out, simply go out and “refresh” the lines.  The most common practice is to blaze the tree bark. I generally use a machete to blaze the tree and shave the bark creating a smooth surface to paint.  With all the effort involved make sure you use a quality paint. Companies like Forestry Suppliers and Ben Meadows sell this type of paint. Flagging simply won’t work and the flagging  deteriorates  after a year or two. Fall, winter and early spring seem to work best. The foliage is gone and the nice weather is conducive to more work.

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact  G. Kent Morris,  ALC,  RF  at         (706) 457-0090

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What features or attributes are the most desirable for the Land Buyer?

LandThink conducted a survey in 2012 of professional land brokers that I participated in.  They ask the question… In your opinion, what is the most desirable feature that people require when searching for land? The results are in.

  • 38.2% said a WATER FEATURE (creek, river, pond, lake, etc.) was most desirable
  • 22.8% said ROAD FRONTAGE was most desirable
  • 11.8% said MUNICIPAL or WELL WATER was most desirable
  • 11.2% said ELECTRICITY was most desirable
  • 7.1% said an INTERNAL ROAD SYSTEM was most desirable
  • 4.1% said a DWELLING or CABIN was most desirable
  • 2.1% said STRUCTURES or BARN was most desirable
  • 1.5% said WILDLIFE IMPROVEMENTS (food plots, deer stands, etc.) was most desirable
  • 1.2% said FENCING and GATES were most desirable
For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at      (706) 457-0090

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is an appraisal and how do I determine what my property is worth?

This is a great subject and dear to my heart. I have 4 appraiser friends and this topic comes up frequently. A real estate appraisal is an important component of the overall real estate transaction. The value determined is often used for financing.  There are three primary types of real estate appraisals that may be used, including the "cost approach," the "sales comparison approach," and the "income capitalization approach."
The "cost approach"  This method in simple terms determines the cost to replace the asset. It is determined by adding cost of materials, labor etc and is often used on unique property like churches etc.
The "sales comparison" This approach compares the price per unit area of similar properties  (or prices per acre) in the surrounding area. For example, a potential buyer will be presented with a full listing of properties that are similar in features, sales prices, including a comparison to their own property explaining the overall appraisal value. The price variations are generally averaged to create a fair market value for the property being appraised. This type of real estate appraisal is considered to be the most accurate appraisal as it utilizes recent market values on comparable properties.
The "income capitalization approach" to real estate appraisal is also commonly referred to as the "income approach" and is mostly used for commercial properties, not residential.  Most commercial real estate investors are interested and relying on the income possibilities or past income performance data when deciding to purchase a property. This type of appraisal is more technical and often lengthier than residential appraisals.

Now, how does this apply to land? Comparable sales appraisals are deeply flawed in the area of rural real estate. This method works well in an urban setting. You look at a subdivision built out in two years, compare 3 or 4 houses that sold over the last 6 months and there you go! However, the entire real estate industry seems to blindly follow this method because it’s the standard. How do you find good comps on rural land? I am not sure you can. No two properties are identical. One has a little field, one has established food plots, one has pine the other has hardwoods, one has 50 year old timber, the other has 20 year old timber. How do you put value on a creek? pond? road access and road surface? The list goes on and on. Sales seem to be more infrequent with rural land sales and therefore comparable sales have limited value.

In my judgment a combination approach should be taken. Land has production capacity which can be measured on timberland and agricultural land. The productivity of the property should impact value. In some cases the ‘highest and best use’ should be taken into account depending on proximity to growth corridors and utilities. One might have to use the comp approach on the land and add the value (cost value) of improvements such as barns, fencing and ponds. We might call this a hybrid approach and in my opinion, this should be the approach to appraising rural property!

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at      (706) 457-0090

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

BIG TREES.... a bygone era!

   I usually write informational blogs but decided to do a fun blog. Many of you know I am a Registered Forester. I grew up camping in the Appalachian mountains with my family and that is why I possibly went into forestry. I have always been interested in logging pictures and big trees. As a matter of fact many of the roads in the Appalachians were originally  railroads constructed by the logging and sawmill industry. Following are some pictures I have acquired over many years. 

   I am thankful that many of the big trees are now being preserved but certain trees like genetically improved Loblolly are meant to be cut and used for lumber and paper products. A forester friend sent me an email with the following.......Notice: It's OK to print this e-mail.  Paper is a plentiful, biodegradable, renewable, recyclable, sustainable product made from trees.  Producing paper and other forest products utilizes a renewable natural resource, sequesters additional carbon and provides jobs and income for millions of Americans."

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF at          (706) 457-0090

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hopes for the American Chestnut!!

   I got interested in this tree while camping up in the Smokey Mountain National Park. I bought a book about all the logging railroads in the Appalachian mountains and it had lots of info about this magnificent tree. Look carefully at these pictures and notice the size of the people relative to the tree. These tree were a large part of the forest ecosystem in the Appalachians and provided jobs, lumber, fences, roof shakes and an abundance of mast for wildlife!
   Scientists are on the brink of engineering a blight-resistant American chestnut tree, renewing hope for a comeback of a long-celebrated species that is valued by business for its sturdy hardwood. This magnificent tree once covered the Appalachian mountain range.
   For the first time, techniques used to genetically engineer sturdier farm crops are being tapped to bring back a devastated native species—one that once numbered in the billions and covered much of the East Coast. Entire forests were laid to waste by an Asian fungus introduced around 1900, and healthy chestnuts now exist only in a smattering of places in the American West, where the blight didn't reach. Now, chestnut trees whose lives began as smudges on a Petri dish are growing in upstate New York, their genes infused with a wheat DNA that appears to kill the fungus that attacks the tree's trunk and limbs. Unlike chestnuts in nature, these trees haven't succumbed so far to the blight—even when scientists directly infect them with it.
The experiments are the culmination of decades of research by scientists at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. At the same time, a separate effort was under way to splice the American chestnut with a Chinese version, producing a potentially blight-resistant tree dubbed the "Restoration chestnut." Both efforts have given hope to supporters who want the chestnut to reclaim part of its share of the forest.

   It remains to be seen whether scientists and foresters can replenish the American chestnut to its once glorious, widespread population, as the trees will take decades to mature. In addition to the tree's strong wood being used for barns, shingles and telephone poles, the tree's nuts sustained forest animals and were sold throughout Appalachia.  "It was a cornerstone species," said Stacy Clark, a research forester for the U.S. Forest Service. "It was probably the most versatile tree in the woods."The American chestnut tree, which has saw-teeth-edged leaves, shouldn't be confused with horse- or buckeye-chestnut trees, which come from separate tree families and produce inedible nuts.
   The Asian fungus that crippled the species was first detected in New York's Bronx Zoo in 1904. The disease starved the tree of water and nutrients and spread rapidly despite a quarantine effort. By 1940, billions of trees had died.  Attempts to restore the American chestnut began in the 1930s, when scientists unsuccessfully tried to breed the tree with a Chinese variety that was immune to the fungus. Federal funding dried up by the 1960s.The efforts were picked up again in the 1980s by scientists and plant lovers who founded the American Chestnut Foundation. They applied a new method, called backcross breeding, which was first used for corn that imparts preferable traits over several generations.
   The foundation started planting their new chestnuts—one-sixteenth Chinese and the rest American—in Virginia in 2006. More than 100,000 of the trees are growing across 19 states. with plans for millions more in what the group calls the country's largest ecological restoration effort. Thousands of trees were inoculated with the fungus in June 2011, with 20% showing strong resistance and 40% with a more moderate amount, foundation president Bryan Burhans said. Scientists will select for the strongest resistances when breeding future generations, he said.
   Meanwhile, scientists at Syracuse's forestry college began experimenting in 1990 with a technique called transgenics, which was traditionally used to create genetically modified crops. They inserted a fungus-resistant wheat gene into an American chestnut embryo and grew a tree from a single cell in a Petri dish. By 2006, Syracuse scientists had planted the first genetically modified trees, and they hope to gather their first nut crop this fall. The results are promising so far, as the trees haven't succumbed to blight halfway into the study. We are all hopeful that these efforts are successful in bring back this wonderful tree! 

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF            at      (706) 457-0090