Whether you are buying or selling, real estate transactions can be a major turning point in any farmer’s operation. Although land prices have stabilized a bit recently, these deals still involve significant amounts of money and valuable acres necessary to make a farmer’s plan work. With so much at stake, it's important to approach this process with a professional – but still practical – mindset that will enable the transaction to be a step forward, rather than an obstacle.
Start Planning Early
Planning early is not always an option. Whether you are buying or selling, sometimes an opportunity arises and you have to move. But for those situations where you have the ability to plan – don’t waste time. If you are able to start finalizing details with the other party well in advance of “go time,” and if you are able to get those details to your respective attorneys, you will have a much less stressful transaction. By finalizing details early, you give your attorney a chance to put together a fair, but solid, contract. You also allow them to contact all the other professionals involved in this transaction. For example - surveyors, title companies, and assessors - all require time to do their work in a way that is most valuable to you.
You cannot rely on a handshake deal any more - a lot of people do not like to hear that - but it’s true. There is too much at stake to simply do a "handshake deal." You can be neighborly and friendly and still insist on a written document. In fact, a written document outlining all the terms of your agreement, no matter how creative you want to get, can often preserve friendships, as there is less second guessing and “misremembering.” To do this right, you need to start early with a draft document. Get a draft document to the other party early so everyone can get comfortable with the agreement that's been put together. Then when it comes to finalizing everything, each party will be familiar with the terms, and will not feel nervous or uninformed when asked to sign the final document.
Do Not Be Surprised By "Hiccups"
Rest assured that when an unexpected issue pops up in the course of your real estate transaction, you are not in a unique situation. Life is not perfect, and almost nothing in life comes off perfectly. The duty of attorneys, and other professionals involved in the process, is not to simply rubber stamp everything. The duty of these professionals is to handle issues that arise in an effective manner, thinking about the best interests of their clients. A farm real estate transaction is an inherently personal process because we are dealing with the sale of land that has a lot of meaning and a significant amount of financial commitment. There are a lot of people and a lot of emotions involved with a real estate transaction. These dynamics will inherently create issues, and that is what your attorney is trained to deal with. Expect issues to arise, do not expect perfection, but please remember it is our job is to take care of these issues, so you can reach your goals.