Without doubt, the upper Mississippi River Valley is home to a lot of hunters. From turkeys to deer and bears to waterfowl, it’s a sportsman’s paradise. But what is their bliss may become your woe if you’re not careful.
Real property ownership in our neck of the woods dates back 150 years. That’s six generations ago and plenty of time for property owners through the years to make all kinds of arrangements affecting later use of their land.
It may be a farmer who retained the right to hunt on the 150 acres he sold in 1947 or the landowner who sold hunting rights on his property to make extra money in the 1980s. Such practices were common at one time. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and property buyers today wonder how (unless the seller discloses) they’ll ever know if someone else owns the right to hunt on their land or if there are any other deed restrictions.
They can find out through a title search. Title searches will turn up issues that limit your rights as owner to a property, referred to as “exceptions to title.” In addition to hunting rights exceptions to title may include deed restrictions, easements, and tax liens, among others. Standard exceptions include rights of parties in possession (the rights of tenants on the property with unexpired leases), undisclosed easements and liens, and mineral and water rights.
Knowing the history of the property you want to purchase, including any exceptions to title, allows you to enter a transaction with your eyes wide open. You may be fine with some or all of the restrictions, but if you aren’t, your knowledge of them will put you in a position to negotiate a satisfactory outcome with the seller.
Your best bets for dealing with hunting rights and other exceptions to title are (1) use a knowledgeable, professional sales agent who understands property rights and rules and is a solid negotiator; and (2) choose a professional title company with significant experience in title searches.