The Paperwork You Need to Buy and Sell Land in Vermont

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The Paperwork You Need to Buy and Sell Land in Vermont
By

Bart Waldon

Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State, with its picturesque landscapes of rolling hills, quaint villages, and abundant maple trees that put on a spectacular display of fall foliage. Over 75% of the land in Vermont is forested, making it one of the most rural and least populated states in America. This pristine environment along with a relaxed way of life attracts many people looking to own a piece of Vermont by buying land here.

If you too are considering purchasing or selling vacant land in Vermont, it’s important to understand the paperwork needed to successfully close the deal. Proper documentation goes a long way in establishing ownership rights, preventing disputes, and ensuring a smooth transaction process. This article will guide you through the key documents required when buying or selling land in The Green Mountain State.

Buying Land in Vermont - Paperwork Needed

Purchasing vacant land or acreage in Vermont opens up exciting possibilities - you could build a vacation home or permanent residence, lease out the mineral rights, harvest timber, farm the land or simply hold it as an investment. But before realizing your Vermont land dreams, you need to complete certain paperwork. Here are the key documents you’ll work with:

Purchase and Sales Contract 

This contract spells out the terms and conditions between the buyer and seller when transacting a Vermont land deal. Key details will include legal property descriptions, purchase price and payment schedule, closing procedures and possession details, contingency clauses, and more. Work with a knowledgeable real estate attorney to draft a purchase and sale agreement that protects your interests when buying Vermont land.

Mortgage Details 

If financing your Vermont land purchase, your lender will require you to sign a mortgage note and deed. This paperwork formally records the loan made to buy the property and the timeframe for repayment. It also lists the legal penalties for defaulting on the mortgage loan, including potential foreclosure and auctioning of the land.

Homestead Declaration 

To qualify for property tax breaks as an individual homeowner in Vermont, you’ll need to submit a Vermont Homestead Declaration form (HS-122). This document declares your intent to occupy/use the vacant land for residential purposes after closing. Submit your homestead declaration to the town clerk where the land is located.

Transfer Tax Return

A 1.25% Vermont Property Transfer Tax must be paid on land sales, typically by the seller. As a buyer, you’ll need to sign the Property Transfer Return filed along with this tax to the town clerk within 30 days of closing. The transfer tax funds state conservation projects.

Water & Wastewater Permits 

If building a home on your vacant Vermont land parcel, you may need potable water and wastewater permits before development. The Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division issues water source permits for wells, while decentralized wastewater disposal systems require separate permitting.

Timber Harvest Notifications

If planning commercial timber harvesting on your land, provide a Notification of Forest Products Harvest to Vermont’s county forester before extraction. This helps monitor conservation practices in the state’s woodlands.

Selling Land in Vermont - Paperwork Checklist

Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to that Vermont woodland or acreage you’ve treasured for years. Or perhaps you inherited vacant property in The Green Mountains that no longer fits your lifestyle. Either way, accurately documenting the land sale is key for everyone’s protection. Before listing your Vermont land asset, compile these essential paperwork items:

Proof of Ownership
Locate the original property deed, land survey, plat map or other documents evidencing your sole legal ownership of the Vermont real estate. These are crucial for verifying your right to sell the property through a purchase and sales contract. Stake any boundary lines clearly on the actual land site too.

Liens & Judgements
Purchase professional title research or title insurance to uncover any potential liens, judgments or other encumbrances attached to the Vermont property you’re selling. These debts tied to the land must be settled and removed before closing.

Mineral Rights 

Determine who owns the below-ground mineral rights (e.g. metals, oil, gas) on your land holding through the original deed. If others hold these rights, it impacts property value and usage. Disclose this clearly to buyers upfront.

Homeowners/Condo Association Fees
If selling land with a residence, provide copies of bylaws, fees, community restrictions and other homeowner or condo association documents to prospective buyers early on. This spells out costs and limitations for owners.

Property Tax Documentation
Gather records of property taxes paid on the land over recent years. Vermont property tax rates vary across municipalities so this helps buyers estimate carrying costs.

Asbestos & Lead Disclosures
For improved land parcels, testing and disclosures for asbestos and lead may be required. This identifies any environmental hazards on the site that buyers should be aware of.

The buying and selling of land in Vermont can be complicated, but the appropriate paperwork lays a solid groundwork for every deal. Now let’s explore the step-by-step processes and professionals who help smooth transactions on either side of the table.

Key Steps to Buy Land in Vermont

While Vermont conjures up pastoral images of covered bridges, independent coffee shops and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, buying property here requires hardheaded precision. Follow these key steps when purchasing Vermont land to avoid headaches:

Hire a Buyer’s Agent 

A knowledgeable local real estate agent represents your interests as the buyer, advising you on paperwork specifics in Vermont property deals. They’ll also tap their insider networks to discover off-market parcels that suit your wishes.

Search Listings & View in Person
Once you convey your ideal Vermont land specs to your buyer’s agent, they’ll proactively send you property listings to evaluate online initially. But you must also inspect contenders in person on-site to grasp layout, views, condition, accessibility and other intrinsic qualities before making an offer.

Submit Offer & Negotiate Terms 

When you’ve zeroed in on the perfect Vermont land opportunity, have your agent draw up a formal offer letter presenting your price and contract terms to the seller. Expect some negotiating back-and-forth before settling on agreeable provisions.

Conduct Due Diligence 

After reaching consensus on transaction basics, you enter due diligence - a 30 to 90 day period for assessing the property further to confirm it meets your objectives. Order land surveys, title work, tests and inspections at this stage to uncover any deal-breakers before closing.

Finalize Financing
Secure a pre-approval letter from your lender early on detailing the mortgage loan amount they’re willing to finance based on your financials and credit score. Now firm up final lending logistics like interest rates, monthly payments, and deposit amount needed.

Close the Deal 

The closing appointment is your last in-person meeting where you ink all paperwork completing the land transfer, make your down payment, receive the deed, and become the official new owner per Vermont protocols! Record your property deed at the town clerk’s office within 30 days.

Key Partners for a Streamlined Closing

While we’ve outlined the core documents and protocol for buying or selling land in Vermont, it’s wise to enlist local real estate professionals as partners to orchestrate a smooth closing. Here are go-to pros who intimately know area market dynamics and niche paperwork nuances.

Buyer’s Agent - Aligns your wish list with suitable listings and negotiates optimal terms on your behalf throughout the buying journey. They cost nothing directly to buyers.

Listing Agent - Markets the land sale to qualified buyers, provides due diligence paperwork, and coordinates showings and open houses until under contract. Paid a commission split when the property sells.

Real Estate Attorneys - Draft specialized clauses within the purchase and sale contract protecting respective party interests. Also review title work and paperwork filings.

Home Inspector - Provides an unbiased assessment of on-site and off-site conditions impacting the property through an extensive visual inspection when under contract.

Appraiser - Evaluates recent comparable land sales data and property attributes to estimate fair market value for lending and pricing decisions.

Surveyor - Meticulously maps legal parcel boundaries and key physical attributes like terrain contours, easements, rights of way and acreage.

Title Company - Researches backlogged property deeds and probes for outstanding claims impacting ownership rights prior to purchase.

Lender - Pre-approves borrowers, orders appraisals on the property, provides the mortgage loan to finance the deal and handles collected payments thereafter.

Insurance Agent - Once land is purchased, arranges tailored property insurance safeguarding against weather damage, trespassers, liability claims and other unexpected losses afterwards.

Final Thoughts

Vermont balances quaint small town charm with abundant unspoiled vistas as the third least populated state. If the lure of owning relaxed acreage or woodlands among roaming moose calls to you, we’ve mapped the paperwork and partners that ease buying or selling land in The Green Mountain State.

Be sure to enlist a real estate attorney and buyer’s agent upfront when purchasing Vermont property. They’ll quarterback required filings like homestead declarations and water permits while negotiating favorably on your behalf. Take time to traverse every rugged backroad and winding stream on acreages that catch your eye too. There’s no better way to grasp the spirit of the land you hope to own than experiencing this place Mark Twain dubbed “The Switzerland of America” firsthand yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What documents do I need to buy vacant land in Vermont?

The main documents you’ll need to purchase vacant land in Vermont are the purchase and sale agreement, mortgage paperwork if financing, homestead declaration form, property transfer tax return, and any required water, wastewater or timber harvest permits. Hire a real estate attorney to ensure all paperwork is precise and protects your interests as a land buyer.

Does Vermont collect a transfer tax when selling a property?

Yes, Vermont charges a property transfer tax of 1.25% on the total sale price of land deals, paid by the seller. As the buyer, you must sign the transfer return filed by the seller within 30 days after closing to formally record the ownership change.

How can I qualify for property tax breaks when buying Vermont land?

Submit a Homestead Declaration form to the town clerk where your purchased land is located. This declares your intent to occupy the property for residential purposes. If approved, you qualify for property tax reductions in Vermont available to individual homeowners.

What kind of terrain surveys should I order on a Vermont land purchase?

Work with an experienced surveyor to produce elevation contour maps, identify vegetation and water sources, flag easements/rights of way, and mark all parcel boundaries on the actual land site. This accurately conveys site topography and legal property lines to buyers.

Can I build a house myself on vacant land I purchase in Vermont?

Yes, if the land meets suitable zoning, acreage size, road access and other criteria, buyers can opt to build their own home. Ensure proper permits for water supply and septic systems are secured beforehand through Vermont’s drinking water division.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.

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