What To Do After Inheriting Land in Colorado

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What To Do After Inheriting Land in Colorado

Bart Waldon

Inheriting property or land can certainly come as a welcome surprise for many, but also presents unique considerations for new owners unfamiliar with real estate matters. For those set to receive Colorado land plots through an estate or trust, the necessary homework spans from verifying mineral rights and title status to evaluating parcel zoning, terrain and encumbrances that dictate prospective value alongside ideal usage. Given the vast 63% of state land yet undeveloped, inherited acreage could prove either a lucrative holding ripe for rising valuations or a problematic burden dragging personal balance sheets without next step planning. 

Fortunately, trusted Colorado land advisors stand ready to help inheritors navigate critical actions like confirming access rights, accounting for carrying costs, settling debts tied to parcels and deciding whether to develop, sell or hold inherited land based on legacy intentions and financial situations tied to an estate. Here’s an overview of key steps to smartly handle new Colorado land assets courtesy of patient benefactors as inheritors determine the ideal trajectories for new property now in hand.

Getting to Know Your Land Inside Out 

Perhaps the most crucial foundation is understanding exactly what land you have inherited and its unique characteristics. Locate any title paperwork to clarify acreage size, parcel boundaries and whether additional structures like barns or equipment storage exist. Tracking down warranty deeds, plot maps and related records provides immense clarity.

You’ll also want to trek to the actual land site in person - there are always nuances that paperwork glosses over. Walking the full perimeter, taking photos and gauging natural resources proves invaluable. For example, one inheritee discovered their land encompassed a small pond by visiting - a major perk for cattle grazing. Ensure fencing appears intact and equipment functional as maintenance issues tank value quickly.

If deceased family leased out the land, track down current lease holders for their perspective. Those running cattle or hunting clubs often keep close tabs on the land over time. Their insights help assess condition versus paperwork and county records.

Tackling Taxes and Getting Finances in Order 

Before deciding whether to keep or sell, the prudent move is handling tax implications and paying off any existing loans, liens or mortgages against the land. At the county level you’ll pay approx $100-500 for transferring the deed from deceased parties into your name. Review if federal estate taxes apply based on the overall value of assets inherited.

For any outstanding debts on the land itself, you cannot fully assume ownership until handling these. Banks get wary lending on vacant land so interest rates typically hit 7-15% for land loans. If keeping the land, write-offs for mortgage interest don’t apply without active commercial use for farming or mineral rights.

Given constraints on financing land, paying off encumbrances upfront in cash (via personal savings or early sales) provides most flexibility and lowest risk moving ahead. Grind through admin to open your options, even if tedious!

Weighing Whether to Keep or Sell Inherited Land

On one hand, inherited land represents a connection to family origins and Colorado’s frontier history that can personally resonate for some. Holding physical land also provides inflation resistance as populations and construction material costs rise over time. And you need not personally farm or ranch to benefit - leasing usage rights can generate income for minimal oversight once set up.

However for inheritees lacking deep ties to the land itself or residing out of state, the property can feel like an anchor dragging finances and bandwidth down. Key considerations around keeping versus selling include:


  • Land ties the family’s Colorado legacy & early homesteading roots
  • Leasing to hunting groups, farming partners etc provides revenue
  • Land values often appreciate over full market cycles
  • Property tax increases capped unlike other assets


  • Ongoing maintenance, taxes and expenses burden inheritees
  • No leading emotional connection to the land or location itself
  • Desire to liquidate asset into more diverse financial portfolio
  • Lack of expertise in rural land management or leasing

This balance is deeply personal depending on motivations - there is no inherently right or wrong path. Taking emotion out though, a key litmus test is whether you can generate leasing income exceeding holding costs. Without a solid business plan, land risks becoming an unused burden.

How to Optimize Marketing & Sale Price for Land 

If choosing to liquidate land, thoughtful pricing and marketing is essential to success. Colorado has seen 27% population growth since 2010, fueling demand for housing plots, commercial builds and agriculture. However profitable sales still require planning and reasonable expectations on timing.

Most inheritees lack experience pricing rural land since sales data is limited and comparisons imperfect. The acreage’s unique attributes like water access and mineral deposits make valuation more art than science. As a starting point, check county tax assessments but know they severely undervalue land, being 30-70% less than true value.

Getting pricing input from multiple local real estate agents and brokers helps establish a fair market asking price, aligned with both property potential and your timeline goals. Lower prices garner quicker buyer interest, though agents push for higher sales driving bigger commissions. Finding alignment and casting a wide net improves odds of lucrative deals.

And in Colorado specifically, beware of overestimating land values due to occasional astronomical sales, like the recent $31 million listing for just 126 acres in Conifer! prime location and luxury estate build potential skewed that figure.

How Land Buying Companies Streamline Sales 

Selling land yourself via agents or For Sale By Owner listings requires patience and savvy negotiation skills...especially for vacant acreage versus livable homes. Conversely, Colorado land buying companies like Land Boss offer a simple way to liquidate property for cash without the hassles of traditional sales.

By specializing in land transactions, these buyers accurately value acreage and make fair cash offers to owners. They have funded acquisition pipelines, handle title paperwork internally and close deals in weeks not months. This avoids inheritance assets weighing you down at already challenging times.

For properties with constraints like damaged fencing, existing liens or land use restrictions, cash buyers also have more flexibility on serious offers where banks balk on financing. Of course research multiple land buyers and compare offers - but the cash for land model has advantages in the right situations.

Final Thoughts

Inheriting property in the picturesque state of Colorado stirs up mixed emotions and tough decisions. But by methodically assessing what you have, planning taxes and options, and tapping specialized help if opting to sell, you honor legacy connections while doing what’s best for your own financial future. Whether you lease long-term or sell outright, exercise due diligence as both a responsible new land owner and savvy real estate investor. The inherited land itself represents your family’s roots in one of America’s most iconic frontier states - make it an asset not a burden!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

My relative left me 10 acres of land in western Colorado. Do I have to immediately pay inheritance taxes?

No, Colorado does not charge state inheritance taxes, just a small $100-500 recording fee to transfer deeds into your name. But the overall estate value may trigger federal taxes later, so keep documentation on what you inherit.

I just inherited 40 acres with a big barn and small cabin outside Denver. Should I keep it or sell the property?

That's a very personal decision! If money is tight or you live far away, selling may be easier long term. But leasing buildings to horse owners or hunting clubs can generate income if you want to retain it. Weigh emotional connection vs the effort to manage an out of state asset.

We inherited 200 acres in southern Colorado last year but have just let it sit unused. Is this risky?

Yes, absolutely put it to some use! Unused land with taxes going unpaid risks being seized through adverse possession laws over time. And it's missed income if you don't lease access rights to farming, drilling companies, etc. Treat it like any investment asset.

My siblings and I disagree on selling my late father’s 6 acre parcel near the Rocky Mountains. What’s fair when inheriting jointly?

Great question - inheritance often complicates family dynamics. Sit down openly and see if a compromise like partial quick sale then long term leasing might suit all interests. Or if selling fully, use funds to do something memorializing your dad.

I’ve inherited 50 acres of Colorado prairie land but live in Florida. How can I estimate the property's actual value?

County tax assessments often severely undervalue land, so they’re just a starting point. Reach out to 3-4 local real estate brokers familiar with sales of large vacant acreage - they can provide price guidance based on land usage, mineral deposits or other special assets that boost value.

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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