Author Topic: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?  (Read 7519 times)

jwood83

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What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« on: November 19, 2015, 10:49:34 PM »
My parents recently inherited my grandparents home and property, and sold their home to move in. It's great land in a wonderful suburb, and the home is being upgraded by them as well. The land is 17 acres, grassy, and flat throughout.

My parents aren't into mustachian things, so they're likely not going to sell any of it, but they were considering using some of it to make extra income. Some options that came to mind:

1) Cell phone tower leasing
2) Leasing out to a farmer who needs additional land for growing crops
3) Growing their own crops, as long as it's not too time intensive (they are both still working)

Some things that may be out of the picture.

1) Billboards. It's adjacent to the interstate, but our city ordinance does not allow billboard on res or agri land.
2) Selling any of it.

Any other ideas? I would be happy to put some time and effort into helping them, but I'm pretty clueless where to begin. I think the cell phone tower leasing option is attractive, and my grandad was once approached about it, but I have no idea if that ship has already sailed.

Shane

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2015, 12:25:32 AM »
It's hard to give recommendations without knowing more about the land and where it's located. Is it near a major city? University nearby? Any tourist draws nearby? mountains? lake? ocean? cross-country skiing?

About 8 years ago my wife and I built a small guest house on our 17 acres of land in the country, and just through word of mouth we easily found a tenant who has lived in the house and paid us rent every month since 2007. Over the years, our tenant has paid us more in rent than it cost us to build his house. Probably we could make more money from the guest house if we rented it out by the night on VRBO or AirBnB, but our tenant is so reliable and nice to have around that we wouldn't even consider doing that unless he, for some reason, voluntarily left on his own.

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2015, 03:34:11 AM »
It sounds like good grazing land, so why use it for anything else?  Either farm animals or horses.  Depending on what works in your locality, I would probably let it out year to year for summer grazing (ie store cattle or sheep get fat and happy until the autumn, and the grass gets a rest in the winter).  If you don't want animals, or don't have good hedges/fences and don't want to put the money into them, there's an annual hay crop or silage cropping throughout spring and summer.

Another Reader

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2015, 03:53:53 AM »
You mention city limits.  The first step would be to talk to the city's planning department to see what the property is zoned, what the general plan says, and what uses are permitted.

Shane

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2015, 07:43:07 AM »
It sounds like good grazing land, so why use it for anything else?  Either farm animals or horses.  Depending on what works in your locality, I would probably let it out year to year for summer grazing (ie store cattle or sheep get fat and happy until the autumn, and the grass gets a rest in the winter).  If you don't want animals, or don't have good hedges/fences and don't want to put the money into them, there's an annual hay crop or silage cropping throughout spring and summer.

Yeah, there's no reason the OP's parents couldn't have animals graze the land AND build a little rental cottage on it as well, assuming, of course, that the zoning laws allow that, as AR mentioned. Livestock grazing the land and keeping the grass down would make it more attractive to both long-term and transient renters.

JordanOfGilead

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2015, 07:45:33 AM »
I have two words for this.
Race track.

Go-karts, dirt bikes, whatever. But hey, that's just me.

lthenderson

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2015, 07:50:37 AM »
Two things that I can think of that I see around my area are putting in a Christmas tree farm. Those don't require much labor especially if you have a harvest your own tree kind of operation and they make really decent money these days as people are getting away from plastics and using renewable resources. The other thing I have seen people do it to plant wine grapes and sell them to nearby wineries. However, I think this industry is starting to decline some due to the market saturation of mom and pop wineries.

Although much more labor intensive, I used to rent land and had a pumpkin growing business when I was younger and which I paid for my college education with in cash. Truck farming as it is called can be very lucrative but you need to do your homework on what produce to grow that you can sell in your area.

Jack

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2015, 08:04:32 AM »
You mention city limits.  The first step would be to talk to the city's planning department to see what the property is zoned, what the general plan says, and what uses are permitted.

This is the right answer.

Bearded Man

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2015, 08:44:36 AM »
Horse boarding. Cheap to build pole barns, and hire someone to live in an RV on site to care for them. People pay biiig money to store their horses. I know lots of people who live in the city but pay to board them as a result. Like 1K a month for three horses or something like that. I've considered doing it myself...

waffle

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2015, 09:33:47 AM »
You wont make much money off of renting it out for grazing or share cropping. If its irrigated then you can probably get about 4 tons per acre for the year assuming its good ground. You say its 17 acres and has some buildings on it, so i'll assume its about 15 acres tillable, so if you put up grass hay then you would gross about 7-8k but after expenses and the farmers cut you are looking at about 2k. Not terrible for not doing any of the work, but not many farmers are going to bother picking up 15 acres unless they are your next door neighbors. Grazing will probably see similar profits, but you would also need good fences.

Bearded Man's suggestion is solid. If there is the demand in the area and your parents want to make the investment in facilities then it could be a great money maker. In my experience horse people (especially ones in the city) have a lot more money than sense and try to even things out by spending their money as fast as they can...

Shane

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2015, 09:47:47 AM »
How about a combination of building a pole barn to board horses and building a small cottage that could be used as a vacation rental. That way the city people who board their horses on your parents' land could pay to stay over night on the weekend and ride their horses?

Goldielocks

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2015, 10:17:39 AM »
Hay.

Lease it to local farmer for hay to reduce taxes as working farm property, and break even until it gains value and you sell.

That is the easiest . 

17 acres is in a suburb?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2015, 01:22:57 PM »
Is it in a floodplain?

I know storage facilities are a common way to utilize land that you'll subdivide and sell in many years.

pbkmaine

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2015, 01:52:44 PM »
See if there are any special laws in your area. My part of Maine had tax breaks for people with at least 10 acres who kept it as woodland.


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ncornilsen

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2015, 03:33:45 PM »
Junkyard, Hog farm, cattle lot.

In all seriousness, my parents own a ranch, and run about 200 cows, with a corresponding number of calves and bulls, depending on the time of year. We only own 215 acres... and lease about 1000 more. Land costs about $3000/acre to buy in our area, but people will rent us 100+ acres for $3000 total/year, or "you can hay it this year, just put up a stretch of fence o'er yonder." 

Share cropping or renting to farmers/ranches isn't the most lucrative deal.


jwood83

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2015, 06:49:57 PM »
Thanks for all the responses, they are greatly appreciated.

We are in Alabama, outside of Birmingham. It was a very rural community about 30 years ago when grandad bought it, but grew from 2,000 to about 25,000 in that time, and developed a very solid school system and tons of McMansions. It's hard to find such acreage here now, so the property has grown in value.

I will investigate the grazing land and hay opportunity further with them. It's certainly ideal for animals.

Kouhri

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2015, 03:41:23 AM »
Just going to add another voice to renting it out to horsey people. In nz anyway they are willing to pay if you have what they need. And very little effort on your part , just some fencing (unless you go.super fancy horsey people who want a stable or other ridiculousness )

Goldielocks

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2015, 07:29:34 AM »
I don't understand why people think grazing land is easy.  Especially horses?

Unless you are renting to a neighbour, or someone who has other animals nearby, grazing animals need to be checked up on, ensure supplemental feed or vitamins and water is available.  Someone to call the vet if something happens...they are growing healthy, Etc.  You also are the one responsible for keeping fencing working at all times.

Out of area animal owners will only check up every couple of weeks or month.

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2015, 07:37:34 AM »
I agree horses could be lucrative, especially in a suburban area where there is likely to be considerable demand.   The problem with them, over farm animals which have commercial value and provide work/income and so tend to be regularly looked after and sold on as appropriate, is that you get amateur owners who may lack knowledge and commitment.  It would be absolutely necessary to have a cast iron licence agreement with the horse owners covering regular visits, extra feed as needed, farrier and vet care, etc. and to include a clause enabling the landowner to sell the horse to recover costs if rent is not paid or the licence terms not adhered to.  Otherwise the horse could just be abandoned and the landowner left with the expensive and burdensome task of having to look after it with no practical remedy available.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2015, 05:57:31 PM »
Why not subdivide or sell much if it to a developer?

GrayGhost

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2015, 08:37:10 PM »
One thing to keep in mind with land is that people often get irrationally, or emotionally, attached to it. I am not an exception to this. I was interested in buying farmland for a few years until I realized that these days, it's hard to make more than 5% ROI on it--at best. Obviously it's better if you farm it yourself, but I prefer being an engineer at this point in time.

So keep in mind, as you look around for ways to put this land to work for you, that if it doesn't return at least 5% of its value each year AFTER expenses, you should really consider selling. Apart from the emotional bias, there's also the sunk cost fallacy at play (I've already got it, might as well keep it).

Bearded Man

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Re: What to do with 17 acres of flat land?
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2015, 09:54:19 PM »
Thanks for all the responses, they are greatly appreciated.

We are in Alabama, outside of Birmingham. It was a very rural community about 30 years ago when grandad bought it, but grew from 2,000 to about 25,000 in that time, and developed a very solid school system and tons of McMansions. It's hard to find such acreage here now, so the property has grown in value.

I will investigate the grazing land and hay opportunity further with them. It's certainly ideal for animals.


Hmmm...based on this additional info, do not sell the land, whatever you do. The development I live in was owned by the guy that lives behind me. He sold the acreage, I dunno, 5 acres or so, for 5 million or so? He recently sold off another 1.5 acres for 2 million, and they built 650K luxury homes as an addition to my development. That land you are sitting on may very well be worth BBIIIIG money to a developer now, but even more so in a few more years....