Author Topic: Property classed as "open space"?  (Read 1198 times)

cowboysgirlfriend

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Property classed as "open space"?
« on: December 06, 2014, 12:54:56 PM »
Hi all,

Been away for a while, being busy getting married and being an immigrant to the US, all with the threat of being evicted from our rental property because our landlord's friends don't like us (that's another story).

With the threat of eviction, DH and I have been looking at real estate, as well as alternative rentals. We need some acreage to keep the horses on, space for training said horses, a place to store hay and feed, and preferably to get horses out of the rain and cold sometimes, and of course, a place to live.

We found a property that has been on the market since 2009, and on which the price has been coming down every year since. It has a large log built home, pristine barns and work shops, and is fully fenced with post and rail fencing. We've driven over there, looked in through the windows, and it looks perfect for our business needs (horse training), as well as for our future family life. The only thing that is a mystery to me is that the land is classified as "open space".

As I understand it this is to do with the Open Space Taxation Act 1970, which grants some kind of tax reduction for land used for timber, agriculture, or for equestrian activities for which a fee is charged (we qualify under that criterion). But, the equestrian use mentions some kind of income requirement.

Anybody have experience with open space classification on land??

Does anybody know what the income requirements might be? And if we wanted to improve the facilities by building an indoor arena (covering the existing outdoor arena), would this be permissable if the land is open space? I'm assuming we'd need a permit of some kind. Just trying to figure out if it could work for us financially. For us to make the living we intend out of the horse business, having a place to ride all year around is essential in the long run.

By the by: Removing the open space classification requires the payment of back taxes and penalties, and doesn't look like it would help us out, so it doesn't look like an option here. We also intend to contact the real estate agent for his input as to why it hasn't sold yet - it has been through a few pending sales over the years - and what his understanding of the open space law is.

Thanks in advance for any help.

cowboysgirlfriend

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Location: Bellingham, WA
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Re: Property classed as "open space"?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2014, 07:46:27 PM »
Hmm, so I'm assuming from the no replies that there isn't much expertise on this topic on this forum. Posting what we learned today just FYI.

We met with the realtor for the property today and he explained it to us like this: You set aside some of your land as Open Space and you get a tax break on that part of your property. e.g. you have six acres. You keep 1 acre for your house and barn and garage, and pay regular taxes on that one acre. You pay less tax on the remaining five which are now Open Space. If you want to build another building, you can adjust the Open Space boundary to leave out the new building. You pay more regular tax on your now regular 1.5 acres. You pay less tax on the remaining 4.5 Open Space acres. If you declassify the whole property, you have to pay the difference on 7 years of back taxes, plus penalties.

Note: This is pretty much how it works in WA. Other states may vary.