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Help a Reader: What to do with unwanted land?

Posted By Jim On 04/02/2013 @ 7:03 am In Personal Finance | 12 Comments

Today’s question is really intriguing because it’s a problem I probably won’t ever experience but it does pique my interest. Cyndie emailed me to say that she had a large piece of land that she no longer wants and isn’t sure what she should do with it given that it’s likely difficult to sell. It’s costing her quite a bit each year in property taxes so she’d really like to be rid of it.

Here’s the question from Cyndie:

About 10 years ago I bought a piece of land. Was going to build on it but that didn’t happen and at this point I don’t really want to. So, it is up for sale. Now, I highly doubt that it will sell, it is a beautiful piece on a hill overlooking a creek, but building there would be more expensive. As soon as I bought the land the taxes went sky high. I have worked with the county to get them lowered.

So, what my dilemma is that I feel it is not going to sell (similar piece has been for sale for 10 years) and I basically need to get out from under it. I have thought about donating it to the city, but don’t know if they would want it. Any other suggestions would be wonderful.


The land sounds beautiful, it’s just unfortunate it’s too expensive to build on it. What really hurts is that she owns this land and has to pay property taxes every year even though she can’t live on it. So the key here is to get rid of it and to hopefully get something out of it. We don’t know how much she paid for it but it sounds like she owns it outright and just needs to get rid of it. I see two solutions:

  • Sell it at a discount – Figure out what a reasonable $ per square acre is in that region, give a good discount, and try to sell it fast that way.
  • Donate it

If you do opt for the donation route, find a good tax professional to work with before you do anything. He or she will be able to structure it in a way that provides the greatest benefit to you. Since we’re going to be talking large dollar amounts, you want to make sure it’s done properly.

Has anyone had any experience with this type of thing before and has some suggestions for Cyndie?

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