An option for land trusts is to buy land outright, but it’s rare that the Trust can afford to buy and hold land in Northern Virginia’s real estate market. As a nonprofit, we seek to use our supporters’ resources as efficiently as possible, so land more often comes to us through gifts or bargain sales.
Gifts of land
- A gift of land for conservation is a generous legacy a landowner can provide to future generations, as well as to honor those who came before them.
- Landowners wishing to retain maximum flexibility during their lifetimes might consider a bequest, life estate, or other remainder interest for carrying out their conservation plans.
- Donating land can have tax benefits for the donor, including income tax, capital gains tax, and estate tax benefits. The Trust recommends that landowners discuss gifts of land with their financial advisors to make sure they’ve considered all possible outcomes.
Part-gift, part-sale of land and conservation easements
- In some projects, land or an easement may be sold to the Trust at less than appraised value, or in other words, partly a sale and partly a donation. This is also sometimes called a bargain sale. For the donation portion of the land’s value, the seller may be eligible to claim a charitable tax deduction.
- There are governmental grant programs that make it possible to sell land or conservation easements. These programs have varying criteria and purposes. Often, the best way to complete the project is to combine the grant funds with a partial donation.
- It’s rare, though not impossible, for the Trust to raise funds to purchase land or easements through private or public sources.
- When the Trust receives a gift of land with conservation value, it may place a conservation easement on the property and sell the permanently protected land to a conservation buyer. The Trust uses the proceeds to protect other lands in Northern Virginia.
- In cases where land can provide important public access, the Trust may convey the property to a public agency such as a local parks department, so the public will own and enjoy the property.
- Occasionally land trusts receive gifts of land without conservation value, and these are considered gifts of assets, much like philanthropic gifts of stock. These properties may be re-sold without conservation easements.
If you’d like to learn more and see whether your land is a good candidate for conservation or other transfer of title, please give us a call or send us an email.
- We’ll discuss your goals for the land, its special resources, and what steps are needed to complete a transfer of title.
- Landowners and the Trust each have specific responsibilities.
- The Trust’s Board of Directors has final say in whether to accept a property.
- Landowners agree to make a financial gift to help cover the costs of perpetual stewardship of the property.