One of the latest movements and areas of interest in Georgia and South Carolina is conservation properties. This area of land investment is becoming increasingly popular as individuals, partnerships and corporations learn more about the present and future benefits of owning these properties. Conservation properties can produce value for investors in many ways. Typically, the property size is determined by the need of the investor and the willingness of the easement holder to accept the property.
Almost all conservation properties are characterized by one component, the conservation easement. The concept of a conservation easement can best be described in real estate by acknowledging that owning real estate involves the physical property and the “bundle of rights” that typically come with each property. In land, some of these rights may include, developing the land, residentially, industrially, commercially or otherwise, the right to grow and harvest timber and mining rights just naming a few. Through entering into a formal agreement with a qualified easement holder, a land trust or some other qualified entity, the landowner surrenders some portion or all of these rights to the easement holder in perpetuity while continuing to retain the physical property. The landowner receives either immediate remuneration from the easement holder or benefit of future state and federal tax burden. Each easement given can be specifically tailored around the needs of the landowner as long as the easement holder is willing to accept the easement given.
Land that could also qualify as wetland and stream bank mitigation banks can become conservation properties. Once certain aspects of these properties can be restored to their original state, and value is created for the land owner, then the affected area by the mitigation bank will be placed into a conservation easement for protection.
Another positive aspect of conservation properties is that a landowner can voluntarily place his land or some portion thereof into a conservation easement to protect it from escalating property taxes in an area of growth– thus saving it for a future generation’s enjoyment. Any surrendering of these property rights should be entered into thoughtfully since these easements are perpetual and run with the land so they also affect future of the land.
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