Finding Your Perfect Piece Of Land In The Smokies
East Tennessee has nearly every type of land imaginable. The variety of the topography and the abundance of water and other natural resources are prominent in the Smoky Mountains. The beauty of the land draws people from across the United States to purchase land for retirement, investment, or as a place to call home with a family. If you are looking for a particular type of property that does not include sand, Sevier County probably has that type of land. The variety of trees due to the varying elevations can make you feel like you are in a New England hardwood forest or you can find yourself encompassed in rhododendron and hemlocks. The land includes rolling pasture and farm land, steep mountain property, rock outcroppings, lake property, cascading creeks, large and small rivers, flat bottom land, and dense forest.
The scenic value of the land can bring you back in time with old cantilevered barns, telling the story of yesterday. Still, you can be in prime shopping areas, activities, and attractions in minutes.
With the Smoky Mountains National Park as a backdrop, a large portion of people enjoy the unobstructed views of wilderness and the mountains. Others enjoy being secluded in a hollow with a flowing stream nearby or the view of rolling pasture land with picturesque barns and livestock.
The land in Sevier County and the adjoining counties widely vary depending upon the portion of the county you are located. For instance, in Sevier County, Gatlinburg consists primarily of heavily forested property, much of it with good views of the mountains. New Center, however, features rolling pastures that have been farmed or are currently being farmed. A great portion of Pittman Center is made up of creeks and the Middle Prong of the Pigeon River (also called Greenbriar). There is such a variety of different property, it is likely there is some land it the area to suit your needs. Jay will assist you in every aspect of the purchase including determining the value of the land, obtaining permits such as septic (if applicable), assistance with zoning, and determining the best location for a homesite.
General Prices For Land And Acreage
Jay can help you look for a lot in a subdivision or an acreage tract for development or a private estate. Prices range significantly depending on what you plan on purchasing. Generally speaking lots range from $20,000 to $120,000. Some upscale developments with spectacular views have lot prices from $150,000 to $500,000. Acreage tracts range from about $10,000 to $30,000 per acre depending on how the land lays, its access, location, and if the land can be developed. Larger acreage tracts can be purchased as low as $2,000 per acre, but typically have limited access and its use would primarily be as a private estate.
The value of land has seen significant increases in Sevier County, but the economic crisis in 2008 has slowed the growth of land sales and in many circumstances the value of land has decreased.
Land Beauty and Cabin Development Impact
Searching for and walking land is probably Jay's favorite aspect of real estate in the Smokies. He enjoys being out in nature and not knowing what he may find. While walking land, Jay has found old chimney's from an old homestead long gone, seen a considerable amount of wildlife, old native american artifacts, and absolutely amazing views from ridgetops after walking for seemingly hours. It is a rewarding experience for Jay to walk property and find the perfect spot to build a home and then analyze the best way to gain access to the building site.
Taking into consideration the preservation of the land is among Jay's priorities when considering how to obtain maximum view potential. Some places in Sevier County have become an eyesore to visitors as developers have placed PUD's with as many as 50 cabins on a single ridgetop. The original reason people visited the Smokies was for its natural beauty. Saddened by the eroding visual pristine aspect of land in the mountains, Jay strives to lessen the impact by man in the mountains, while still finding excellent views.
River, Stream, & Creek Property
Although it is becoming more difficult to find land on trout streams and rivers in the Smokies, the land is still obtainable. Jay, an avid fisherman, also enjoys helping clients find land on streams and rivers. The Little River in Townsend and Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon in Pittman Center are the two primary trout rivers where an individual can buy property. Many streams and creeks in the area provide excellent fishing opportunities, such as Cosby Creek. Finding property with frontage on a trout stream is rare, but very exciting to find when it comes on the market. Lake property is more common and has excellent opportunities for fishing, boating, and great views of the water and surrounding mountains.
The lakes in East Tennessee include Douglas Lake, Cherokee Lake, Norris Lake, Fort Loudon, Watts Bar Lake, and Tellico. Douglas Lake is located primarily in Jefferson County with portions in Sevier and Cocke Counties. Cherokee Lake is located north of I-40 almost due North of Douglas Lake. Fort Loudon, Watts Bar, and Tellico are located in the Knoxville and West Knoxvlle area. Norris Lake is well North of the other lakes, close to the Kentucky border with easy access off I-75. The South Holston is located in both TN and VA off I-81. Jay's expertise is primarily with Douglas Lake and doesn't often sell real estate in the other lakes in East Tennessee.
Conservation easements present an excellent opportunity for land owners to accomplish several goals. Among these are preserving the land for future generations, ensuring the land does not become developed, federal tax deductions, potential lower property taxes, and a lower estate tax. The tax deductions can be quite substantial and very beneficial to high income earners. Especially those looking to own a large private estate or farm for privacy and a buffer zone from other homes.
For example, if an individual purchases 100 acres for a private estate at a price of $1,000,000. They can then place a portion of the property they deem as a conservation easement into a Land Trust. In this situation, the owner uses 5 acres for their homesite to build a home. The remaining 95 acres can be deemed as a "Conservation Easement" where the land cannot be developed in the future. The owner can deem what the Conservation Easement involves and can retain certain rights to do things such as farm the property, hunt/fish on the land, build a private airstrip, create walking and riding trails, and more. The 95 acres are appraised by a qualified appraiser to determine the value of the land in the market without a conservation easement (the value of the land if it could be developed). The value of the land with the conservation easement in place is also appraised. The difference between the two is the amount allowed for a tax deduction.
||Number of Acres
||Price Per Acre
|Value of conservation land without easement
|Value of land with conservation easement in place
|Total Taxable Deduction Allowed
|Additional incentives include a reduction in Estate taxes and a likely decrease in property taxes
|*The above is just an example scenario and does not imply value or guaranteed results from a conservation easement.
The value of an easement gift varies with each easement. Generally, the more the easement restricts the uses of the property, the higher the value of the gift, and hence the higher the tax deduction.
To determine the easement value, the land must be appraised at both its fair market value without the easement restrictions, and its fair market value with the easement restrictions. The difference between these two appraisals is the easement value, from which the tax deductions are derived.
If this value is 30% or less of the landowner's adjusted gross income, it may be entirely deducted in one year. If the value is greater, it may be spread over as many as 6 years. Tax laws change periodically over time, so please consult a tax professional for accurate and timely details.