Buying Land

Regulatory Road Blocks

Regulatory Road Blocks

Private landowners are subject to numerous regulations at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels. There are so many various agencies and issues that most people need a team of qualified professionals to help them with land transactions.

Last Thursday about 75 land professionals, foresters, and lenders met in Mobile, Alabama at our spring Realtors Land Institute meeting. We spent 6 hours hearing from various speakers on numerous topics about how government regulations affect everyday landowners. Today I reflected on all of that information and other regulatory hurdles I have encountered in land transactions.

Below is an incomplete grocery list, in no particular order, of various governmental regulatory bodies that could have a direct effect on you as private landowners.

  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Department of Environmental Management (state)
  • Advisory Council of Historic Preservation
  • County Health Department
  • County Tax Assessor, Appraiser, and Mapping Office
  • US Fire Service
  • Local fire departments
  • Coast Guard (for river properties)
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Board of Engineers and Licensed Surveyors (state)
  • US Forest Service

Each of the 18 agencies mentioned above has their own set of regulations and rules that pertain to private landowners. Even the best land professional will not be familiar with every possible issue that could arise during a land transaction, but an experienced land agent will be aware of common things to look for.

For instance, landowners who want to build a pond on their property could need permitting from their local NRCS office, the Army of Corps of Engineers, their state Department of Environmental Management and the EPA. If you don’t know that going in, then you open yourself up to all kinds of expensive liability issues and possible fines.

Selling land has all manner of possible tax implications. An experienced land professional can generally recommend a CPA who is familiar with the sale of timberland, ranch land, or other rural properties. This CPA can help you structure a deal so that you can maximize your profits and limit your tax liability.

The point of this article is that Big Government has all sorts of implications for landowners. When participating in a land transaction you should seek the help of a competent land professional who can help you navigate the murky waters of our regulatory bodies. You will eventually need the services of a good attorney and an accountant who is knowledgeable in land transactions. Hiring competent professionals can help you avoid unnecessary regulatory road blocks.

This content may not be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, in part or in whole, without written permission of LANDTHINK. Use of this content without permission is a violation of federal copyright law. The articles, posts, comments, opinions and information provided by LANDTHINK are for informational and research purposes only and DOES NOT substitute or coincide with the advice of an attorney, accountant, real estate broker or any other licensed real estate professional. LANDTHINK strongly advises visitors and readers to seek their own professional guidance and advice related to buying, investing in or selling real estate.

About the author

Jonathan Goode

Jonathan is passionate about helping people buy and sell land. He is an associate broker with Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. Jonathan is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC), working with Southeastern Land Group (AlaLandCo) since 2008, serving Alabama and Mississippi. He is a member of the Alabama and Mississippi chapters of the Realtor’s Land Institute (RLI), and is currently serving as Vice President of the Alabama Chapter. Jonathan specializes in marketing rural properties online, and is a contributor for, writing articles focused on helping people buying and selling rural land.


Click here to post a comment

  • I sincerely hope the Realtors Land Institute is aware of and fighting UN Agenda 21 as from my study it appears to be the single biggest threat to private land ownership. The topic of this article lists many of the very things Agenda 21 is doing to us. I encourage you and all real estate professionals to educate themselves and do what they can to educate others and combat the evils of UN Agenda 21.

    Jim Owen

  • Counties around Houston charge roll-back taxes if the status of land is changed from “agriculture-tax-exempt” to something else. Immediately upon the change, 5-years-worth of taxes at the new rate are due. Counties also deny the 1st application by new owners. New owners are required to apply to keep tax exemptions.
    Counties assume legit tax applications will be re-submitted, but, by the time 1st applications are rejected, taxes at the non-exempt rate are due (and not reduced for that year, even if 2nd applications are approved).

Pulse Question

If you were buying land, how likely would you be to choose owner financing if it was offered?


Subscribe to LANDTHINK

Get the latest land articles and news sent to your inbox. Get land smart!