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Conservation Easements

by EcoBroker

Snapshot & Benefits:

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation or government agency that perpetually restricts specified activities on a piece of private property for the purpose of conservation. For example, a landowner may give up the right to subdivide the land into building sites, while retaining the right to farm the land. The land that can be protected must have "significant" conservation values, according to the IRS. These values include forests, wildlife habitats, open spaces, wetlands, and more. The easement stays with the property and is binding on all future owners. Conservation easement is a popular tool for landowners who want to retain ownership of their property and protect it for generations to come. The landowner essentially gives up "development rights" however, can continue to own and manage the land according to the rights outlined in the easement. These easements can be transferred by charitable gift or sale, and often bring significant tax deductions. A conservation easement is also a critical tool used to ensure that the land stays within a family for future generations. The family possession of the land is made possible due to the fact that the easement removes any development rights, which lowers the land market value, and in turn lowers the estate tax.


Tax Savings:

Conservation easements may provide substantial tax savings, because the landowner receives a federal income tax deduction. The value of the tax deduction is determined by the value of the easement. The value of the easement is determined by a professional appraiser and equals the difference between the fair market value of the property before and after the easement takes effect. As stated by the IRS, to qualify for this income tax deduction, the easement must be: a) perpetual; b) held by a qualified governmental or non-profit organization; and c) serve a valid "conservation purpose."



Conservation easements are not appropriate for every landowner. The IRS requires that the property in question has "significant" conservation values, such as a wildlife habitat, wetlands, forests, etc. Landowners should know that conservation easements may be overridden by eminent domain when the public value of the proposed project exceeds that of the conservation interest being protected by the easement. Conservation easements may also result in a considerable reduction in the sale price of land, because of its restrictions on building.


Getting It Done:

Consult a professional appraiser in your area before requesting the easement. In most areas, the landowner will need to contact their local conservation or government agency, at which they will evaluate the property to determine if it meets their criteria. If approved, the easement is signed by both the landowner and agency and is recorded in the local land records.


More Information On This Topic:

What is a Conservation Easement?

The Nature Conservancy: How We Work

American Land Conservancy

Mortgage Rates Hover Near Record Lows

by Realty Times

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.93 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending February 18, 2010, down from last week when it averaged 4.97 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.04 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 4.33 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.34 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.68 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 4.12 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.19 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 5.04 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.23 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.33 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 4.80 percent. 

"Mortgage rates eased for the second week, while economic data releases suggest that the housing market may be in a slow state of recovery," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that existing home sales rose in 48 states and the District of Columbia between the third and fourth quarters of 2009; 32 states experienced double-digit growth. In addition, 67 metropolitan areas saw positive annual house price growth in the fourth quarter, more than double that in the third quarter, according to the NAR."

"New home construction is also slowly improving. One-family housing starts rose to an annual pace of 484,000 homes in January, which is up almost 36 percent from January 2009, based on the U.S. Census figures. Moreover, homebuilder assessments of market conditions over the first half of 2010 improved in February, according to National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index." 

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Contact Information

Photo of Laurel Sweeney Real Estate
Laurel Sweeney
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty
1209 State Route 213, PO Box 452
High Falls NY 12440
Office: 845-687-2200
Toll Free 877-468-5783
Fax: 845-687-4162

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