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Should I sell my land

Should I Sell My Land?

beginners landownership longterm management management planning women landowners Nov 30, 2023

At some point or another, you've likely come across the question in your mind of "should I sell my land?" We perhaps don't necessarily admit that out loud, but it's something at some point in our lives, our parents lives, or our kids lives that will come about. So let's just talk about that elephant in the room! 

Should you sell the land? 

And before our emotional defenses kick up in high gear, let's look at some very logical points for us to effectively evaluate this. 

The first being, NEVER, and I mean never, make this type of decision after an emotional turmoil... and by that I mean immediately after an inheritance period due to death. After your loved one passes is when most scrupulous letters in the mail come about purchasing your timber or land, and this is the exact timing that you do NOT need to make those major land-altering decisions. 

Why?

Because you're not thinking clearly and you're likely to regret the decision, even if it was the right decision or if transactions were done right and fairly... it will never seem that way down the line

So first thing we're going to do IF we've recently inherited the piece of land we're considering selling is...

To Wait. 

That's right, we're not going to do any decision making with that land that is going to drastically change the landscape (aka, harvest timber) or remove it from our family ownership (aka, sell the land). How long to wait, well... that's the tricky part here as everyone's grief process is different, but I can confidently say two weeks is probably NOT enough time pass. Perhaps it's one month, perhaps four... it might even be a year before you can feel like you can make more comfortable, non-biased decisions with the land. That is going to be completely up to you on the appropriate timeframe, because honestly this decision is going to be emotional no matter when you decide to move forward... but what we're working to do is simply make decisions OUT OF emotions and then waking up the next morning regretful of that transaction! 

So let time sit for a bit. 

After that, what are the next step considerations? 

Your season of life and distance. 

How far away do you live from the land? Are you within the same county, driving past the gate access road every Tuesday on the way to town for groceries, or even within a couple hour drive where you can easily sit in the deer stand in the wee-hours if you so choose to do? OR are you across the state, multi-states away? Do you only visit the land every few years, and the time in-between is actually getting further and further between because all the family which used to be present have also gone all their separate ways? 

How far is too far for you? How far is an inconvenience? Are you in the middle of raising children which take up all your waking hours of patience and you're focused on developing their "precious personalities" to be solid stewards of society and support them until adulthood? Or are you entering those retirement years where your income has been reduced, although albeit consistent retirement funding. You have the flexibility to travel in your schedule, but long-distances are too hard on the body and you're not able NOR desire to travel and work in that same manner! 

There's pros and cons to all sides of the scenario, but as you're thinking these questions through it's likely filling up either more and more as an OPPORTUNITY you see your land can fulfill or its starting to feel more and more like an OBLIGATION. 

Now, disclaimer... we all go through seasons. And if you're in a hard season of life, perhaps with littles, and the idea of adding one more responsibility to your plate just seems impossible right now, BUT you recognize that in 5 years perhaps you're plate will be easier to handle... that is completely different than looking into the foreseeable future and getting the dreaded feeling of responsibility the land will have in your life, no matter the timeframe you wait. And that is a different set of decision making parameters. 

So to quickly recap: Is the land close or too far for you to effectively and comfortably manage? Are you in a season of life which you wish to handle this responsibility? 

Last simplified question. 

Whose the next beneficiary? 

This is an important consideration when looking long term. Do you have someone to pass the land to: kids, grandkids, other family members? Or are you the last of the line? Being the last in line doesn't necessarily mean a "sell the land now" scenario! And having kids doesn't automatically mean "keep the land!" either. This is where you get to really envision the long game plans for the land: who is it going to be with after you? 

If you have children or other family members who you know value the land and have that desire to continue the management, then keeping the land is a relatively easy no-brainer (although not a guarantee no-brainer still, because desire and capability are NOT the same). But if you do not have anyone who desires to keep the land managed effectively, either by not having kids yourself or just none who live close by and desire to take on that asset, then you're at the crossroads of selling the land, eventually at the very least. You can then choose to sell now and reap the cash benefits in your life while allowing a new family to start their new family legacy... or you can choose to hold on to the land while you're alive and implement in your will and estate plans the desires to cash out the land among the beneficiaries, or even how you want the land to be sold or donated to who or where. 

There's no right or best way to approach these decisions. 

Ultimately, it is completely up to you, and only you will know what is right for you. 

Proverbs 16:1-3 say this, "To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans."

So if you're struggling with the answer and being decisive, your last step... which actually should be your first and most persistent step, is to be prayerful about the right answer. Despite what WE may want the answer to be... if we stay prayerful for guidance and discernment, we'll know what it is we're meant to do, even if it's not something we particularly want to do. 

If we choose to keep the land, it is important for us to remember the land is meant to be worked. God instructed Adam to work the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:15, and likewise we are meant to work our land of responsibility too. 

This is a quick summary of my 3 part series on Enrooted, the podcast, where I dive deeper into selling the land or not, and follow-up succession questions you must decide on. Check out Part 1 of To Sell The Land HERE. 

 

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