Finding land to lease can be a very difficult process. Or it can be simple and easy. Depending on your situation you could find some land to lease just by talking to your neighbor. Or, if you are like me, a city boy, trying to find land to lease can be very challenging. Today I’d like to talk about my experiences with leasing land and what I’ve learned.
Here are a few ways you can find land to lease. They are:
- Word of mouth
- Plat Books
- Craigslist or other local publications (electronic and print)
- County Assessor’s Website – They might have a service similar to Google Maps where you can search for land
- Sale Barn/Livestock Auction
The first two are dependent upon who you know and where you live. If you have good connections in your local agricultural community you can probably easily find land to lease. If you live in a more rural agricultural area you can also find land more easily than a city boy like me. Why? Because you know the area and people that reside within that community. You also probably know about the places where people post classified ads or other small, local publications. This is to your advantage, seize the opportunities that may arise!
If on the other hand you are like me and live outside the community, you are going to have a more challenging time. I want you all to know that in order for me to secure my first land lease I literally had to call 200 people. I can’t tell you how frustrating this was, but if you stick with it, you’ll eventually find someone to lease land to you.
This brings us to our next three options which are; plat books, craigslist or other local publications and the County Assessor’s website. Before you dive into any of the previously mentioned resources you need to figure out where you want to lease land and what type of grazing/agriculture you will do on the land. Once you know the general area you want to be, drive around that area and look for idle or unused land. Make a note either on a map or notebook as to where the land is. Come up with a system of documentation that works for you. You need to have good, accurate notes in order to make this process go more quickly.
After you have researched the area and some possible pieces of land it’s time to look at plat books, craigslist (and other local publications) and the County Assessor’s website. Let’s start with plat books.
Plat books are a bit outdated now due to the internet and technology, but many counties still have them. A plat book is a book that has maps inside of it. On that map properties are divided up according to who owns them. The plat book should contain the acreage of a given piece of land, who owns that land and other information. All you really need is the amount of land and who owns it. Some plat books will have the land owners contact information right there inside the book. If the contact info is not there, try google searching or going to the yellow pages website (yp.com) and searching for the person’s name, while narrowing the searchable area down to the county you are living in or want to lease the land in. You can then compare this info you found in the plat book by doing a google maps search. Look at the satellite photos of the land and get a general feel for it. I actually prefer Bing Maps because they provide much more detailed photographs of land, when compared to Google. You can zoom in closer using Bing Maps. From here you can call the landowner and ask them if they might be interested in leasing the land to you. Seriously consider going out and looking at the land if the landowner seems interested. Let’s move on to craigslist or other local publications.
Craigslist or other local publications can be a great place for you to place an ad. You can place an ad saying something to the effect of: “Looking to lease 400 acres for grazing. Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX.” There are also other local publications unique to your area. Consider looking at these publications frequently or place an ad in one. Many newspapers also have online classifieds that are free to place ads in, online only. These local, online newspaper classifieds are also a good place to check for land. Checking these sources frequently can pay off, it’s how I found animals to custom graze.
The next resource I’d like to talk about today is the County Assessor’s website. For example if I wanted to find my county assessor’s website I would Google, “Weld County Assessor.” After I get to the website I would look around for a map function or “property information.” Go here for an example of what I’m talking about: http://propertyinfo.co.weld.co.us . If you play around with this map service the assessors website provides, you can see that the service gives you some detailed information as to the amount of acreage and who owns the land.
The last resource I would recommend would be the livestock auction or “sale barn.” Almost all of the people here are involved in the livestock business. They know each other and might have a lead for you when it comes to leasing land or finding livestock to graze for someone else (if that’s your goal). If you go to your local sale barn and make friends or volunteer time working you will get to know some folks and have more of an understanding of what’s happening within your agricultural community.
Here are some things in which I think you need to find out before you lease land. Information you should be looking for:
- Is the property fenced?
- What type of fencing and how old is it?
- Is there a water source?
- What type of water source? Tanks, windmill pump, stream, river, ponds. Do any of these sources dry up? What is the age of the above mentioned sources of water?
- Road access – Gravel or paved road? Is there a cattle guard or adequate gates?
- Is there an electricity source? This will power your electric fence charger unless you get a portable one which is not always recommended, it depends.
- How long has the land owner had the land?
- What are the lease terms the landowner might be interested in?
- You need to have a written contract and I would honestly recommend getting a lawyer/real estate professional involved especially if you are leasing large acreages (500+ acres)
- What are the landowners thoughts on grazing? Try to explain that your grazing management will help improve the land, over a time (years)
- Last but not least I think it’s important to emphasize the point that you will be making your living by leasing this land. If the landowner has any reservations about leasing the land to you, please ask them to let you know so you can find land somewhere else. There is nothing worse than having the landowner decide they don’t want to lease the land to you while you are grazing livestock on it, believe me I know.
Well there you have it. I tried to be detailed. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Your search for land might not be easy, but with persistence and determination you can succeed.