NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — When you buy and sell land in North Dakota, it’s important to be able to navigate that process, especially if you’re a farmer.
As you would expect, there is a difference between residential land and agricultural land.
“The primary difference is that residential property has already been plaited. So, it has been broken out into Lot 1, block 1 whatever the name of the addition is. Agricultural property has usually not been plaited. So you are dealing with a lot of legal description,” said Attorney Chris Nyhus.
Farmland is usually passed down from family member to family member which could make the process a whole lot easier.
However, if you are a new and young farmer looking to start your own farm you may face some obstacles. One such obstacle you may face is evening finding the proper land in the first place.
“I don’t think the obstacles are legal, it’s more market. A piece of land may not hit the market for a generation,” said Nyhus. “I think a lot of the farmers own a lot of land, but they also lease especially the younger ones. They start leasing out some land. A good tactic I’ve seen for some of my clients is when you sign the lease, ask the owners if they ever do decide to sell would you consider giving me a first right of refusal.”
Another question people may ask is: how do you know that the seller you’re dealing with owns the land?
“It’s with one of these. This is an abstract and it has hundreds of pages. The abstract tells the story of the land. And it goes back to the very beginning,” said Nyhus.
The attorney will review the abstract. The abstract will have everything recorded when anything that impacted the land was recorded by the county recorder’s office.
An interesting topic that tends to pique people’s interest is adverse possession.
Adverse possession is when someone who doesn’t own the land can acquire the title of the land by taking it. And sometimes, if they take and use that land for a long period of time, that land becomes theirs.
“These cases don’t happen frequently, but they do happen. We have had some go through our office. In order to successfully adversely possess land from a different person you have to do it openly. You have to not be hiding the fact that you are occupying the land,” said Nyhus.
So what should farmers and future farmers do?
According to Nyhus, the succession and the future of a farm is extremely important.
He suggests farmers should sit down and review the title of the land — because sometimes it’s easy to forget whose name is on that piece of paper.