Q: We need to reduce our 5.1 acre property to less than 5 acres in order to qualify for my husband’s employer’s relocation program. It’s been suggested that we gift 0.2 acres to one of our adjacent neighbors. Are there any other options we should consider? If not, how do we begin the process?
A: It seems like the best and easiest solution would be to see if your employer’s relocation program manager would waive the “less than 5 acre” requirement for you. But if they won’t, you have some options, some of which can be complicated, expensive and time consuming.
As you indicated, one of your options might be to reduce the size of your property. However, in some cases this might be impossible. Some local municipalities have minimum lot size requirements. If your town or county has a minimum lot size of 5 acres, you’d be out of luck.
If you’re able to reduce the acreage of your lot you may have other legal challenges. Of the many legal obstacles you may encounter, a big one might be subdivision ordinances and subdivision requirements. In an effort to regulate local land uses, many municipalities have ordinances that require owners of land to obtain accurate surveys of their land, along with water flow studies, before they permit the subdivision of large lots. In some cases these local requirements might even include the review of what you propose and their approval of your division.
If you’re able to overcome these obstacles or they don’t exist in your area, you could transfer that land to your neighbor. Your attorney could obtain a legal description from your surveyor to convey to your neighbor the necessary acreage. You, in turn, would need to make sure that the local real estate taxing authority thereafter taxes your neighbor for that acreage.
In a nutshell if you can’t get your husband’s employer to waive the requirement, seek out a real estate attorney in your area to guide you through the process.