Conservation groups can and do purchase land at fair market value — though their acquisition funds are limited.
Easing the sale
If you truly care about protecting your land’s natural resources but need to receive fair market value, consider easing your conservation buyer’s purchase through the following non-financial means. While many of these incentives can aid other sale options, they are particularly helpful for fair market purchases.
Option to purchase
If a conservation group lacks ready cash to purchase your land, you can grant an option to purchase. You and the conservation buyer agree on a specific sale price and terms, including a specific amount of time during which the buyer may exercise its exclusive right to purchase your land. During that time, you cannot sell to anyone else. If the option expires, you have no further obligation to that buyer. An option enables a conservation agency to compete for grants for land protection. Without such grants, a fair market sale might not be possible.
Extended payment terms
You can give your conservation buyer time to raise purchase funds by offering a contract or installment sale. This strategy might also help you extend your income and tax benefits.
First Right of Refusal
If a conservation group expresses interest in purchasing your property but you’re not yet ready to sell, you may grant that buyer a First Right of Refusal. This right gives a conservation buyer a specified period of time to match any bona fide offer that you receive from another potential buyer. Before accepting this outside offer, you are obligated to allow the conservation group to purchase the land for that amount.
The bottom line
Before setting your price, see a side-by-side comparison of the pre-tax and after-tax proceeds of a fair market sale, bargain sale and full donation. As you’ll see, your bottom line isn’t measured by your sales proceeds alone but by how much you get to keep after taxes.
Meanwhile, bargain sales and donations also provide intangible benefits, such as protecting your family’s legacy and future.