Buying Land

Washington Gives & Washington Takes Away

Several new and re-energized federal programs are “pulling more land into the public sector” and thus restricting its future use, Frank Parker, professor of real estate at Boston College, told an audience at the recent REALTORS® Land Institute meeting.

One program that should be of concern to land brokers, said Parker, was the Department of Defense Conservation Partnership, which  works with public agencies to convey BRAC properties not deemed suitable for economic development—such as wetlands and land with environmental issues—to public entities. This program can affect some 200,000 acres of Army and Navy property, he said.

Parker also expects that the revival of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act will result in less surplus federal land being sold to private owners. This act, which is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, gives organizations providing housing for the homeless first priority in purchasing any federal land not needed by government. Again, Parker says, such a practice will take land out of private hands that might have a different highest and best use.

One federal program that can help private landowners is the Forest Legacy Amendment, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This program assists states in improving and preserving environmentally sensitive forest land by purchasing conservation easements. “The program not only helps private owners preserve forests, but can also increase the value of nearby properties,” noted Parker.

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Realtors Land Institute

The REALTORS® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land,” continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. RLI endeavors to remain the essential membership organization for the extraordinary real estate professionals who broker, lease, sell, develop, and manage our most precious resource: the land. RLI provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business. For more information, visit or call 800.441.5263.

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