Making any type of purchase can be a lengthy process and the purchaser should know what he or she is purchasing before signing the agreement. One important aspect of making a land purchase is the inspection. The purchaser should do a physical inspection of the property as well as a legal inspection.
For the physical inspection of the property, the purchaser should examine the boundaries of the property to know how much property is being purchased and make sure that it meets the size for his or her intended purpose. Hiring a surveyor to confirm the boundaries may be necessary in some instances. During the inspection, the buildings on the property should also be inspected to determine if any improvements or repairs need to be made before the purchase. The parties can agree on who will be responsible for making those repairs and can determine how much the cost of those repairs may be, as well. The purchaser should also examine the terrain to ensure it is suitable for his or her purpose and discuss with the seller all previous uses of the land.
For the legal inspection, purchaser should determine whether the zoning of the area allows for purpose of purchasing the land and also do a title search to determine ownership of the property. Determining ownership is especially important to ensure that there are no third parties that may claim interest in the property, such as mortgages, liens, judgments, easements, and any deed restrictions. Another aspect that the purchaser should inspect is the water rights of the property. This can generally be learned from the water authority in the county where the property is located. The purchaser should also determine whether there are any mineral rights associated with land before making the purchase.
Once the inspections have occurred, the purchaser should ensure that the agreement addresses any issues that came up in the inspections. Some terms that should be included are:
Description of the Property: The boundaries of the property should be clearly stated in agreement.
Payment: The method of payment and schedule of payment should be clearly detail, including any reductions in payment due to seller making improvements or repairs to the property.
Changes to Property: The agreement should state whether there are any limitations to how the property may be changed.
Condition of Property: Agreement should state whether any improvements or repairs will be made and if none are to be made, agreement should state that property is being sold “as is.”
Easements/Access: Purchaser should determine whether any easement rights are required for the use of the land and should have each easement included in the agreement.
Water and Mineral Rights: Rights for each of these items should be included in the agreement, including what the rights are and who owns them.
Title Insurance: The purchase agreement may ask the purchaser to obtain title insurance which will protect him or her in the event that there are defects in the title.
Want more information on contracts for the food and agriculture industry? Check out my first book that I co-authored with Pat Dillon, an Iowa agriculture lawyer titled “Field Manual: Legal Guide for New York Farmers and Food Entrepreneurs” available on CreateSpace, Amazon, Kindle and iBooks. You can find out more about this book here. Furthermore, you can check out this extensive outline on common agriculture contracts on my JD Supra page prepared for this Lawline.com presentation.