Managing Complex Transactions

Landscape is designed specifically to capture complex land transaction details.  When figuring out how to enter these transaction details, keep in mind one fundamental rule: In Landscape, 1 Property = 1 Conveyance Document that you hold/held/might hold in the future.  While the interest conveyed may be complex (see this article on Managing Complex Interests), an interest can't fundamentally 'change' -- there is no way to transform an easement document into a quitclaim deed or vice-versa.  Interests are only acquired and disposed (in part or in full) and perhaps replaced with something else (another Property record).  Therefore multiple Property records are often necessary to record these complex transactions accurately.   You can amend a property record/interest by adding an amendment property asset, but usually this just involves restating the terms or adding acreage, it does not involve changing the fundamental relationship between the Grantor/Grantee. 

Say you (Leafy Greens Land Trust) purchase a property in Fee in 2010.  In order to partially fund the purchase, you grant an easement on a portion of it to another conservation organization (Grow Big Trees Land Trust).  Then, in 2012, you divide the property into two parcels and sell one parcel (the parcel unencumbered by the Grow Big Trees restriction) to a private landowner.  At the same time, you place a permanent conservation easement on that parcel to ensure its protection.  You now have 1 parcel in fee and one next door that you hold as an easement.  The Fee parcel has an easement on it monitored by Grow Big Trees Land Trust.


In this example you start with a single Property record in 2010-- the original Fee property. In 2012 you subdivide the Property into "A" and "B" and then Dispose of "B".




Parcel "B" does not 'become' the easement property record in Landscape, since "B" is a part of the Fee property record and you are technically disposing of your Fee interest in the property through sale to the new landowner.  The Fee Property record will only show that you disposed of parcel "B" in 2012.  The easement you granted to Big Tree Land Trust on Parcel "A" is captured by adding a '3rd Party Interest Held' category to the Property and Stewardship Site record, and also (optionally) by adding an encumbrance asset.   

Next, you create a new Property record for the Easement you hold (the one granted to the Landowner who purchased the fee parcel). This is much simpler, and is represented by a single Property record and a single Stewardship Site:



"But if these are two different Property records, how do we connect Fee Property A with Easement Property B, to make sure that everyone knows they were all a part of the same transaction?"

This is one very good use of the 'Property Group' field.  By adding both Properties to the same group, you can easily navigate between the related Property records and see the details of each transaction.  Also, you should include a narrative description of the land transactions in the 'Description' field of each Property.  At each step of documenting the transaction in Landscape, try to be as clear as possible in your names and descriptions.


Let's walk through what entering this example in Landscape actually entails:

First, create the 2010 Fee Property record.  Create a new Property record using the (+) button on the left side of the dashboard.  Enter the name of the Property at the top of the page, then fill in as many details as you can before setting the status to 'Current Holding':

If you are entering historical property information, it's easiest to add additional parcels and parcel information before you set the status to 'Current Holding' however in this case I haven't added the additional parcel yet so I can show you what it's like to divide and dispose of a parcel in real time, and also to create a more accurate record of when the property was subdivided:




You can capture who the seller/grantor was as a contact record. If they are no longer affiliated with the property add an end date (the date they sold the property) to place them in the 'inactive contacts' list.  Here I've also captured property purchase funding information by adding a two disbursals -- one from 'Easement Sale' funding source, and the other from the 'Internal Acquisition Fund' funding source.




Next, set the status to 'Current Holding'. The 'Acquired On' date will appear. Make sure it's accurate.


Next we need to divide the one parcel into two, and then dispose of the new parcel.  Click on the three dots next to 'Parcel Details' and select 'Divide This Parcel'.  If all you see is 'Add New Parcel', it's because you haven't changed the status yet.




A message appears informing you that a Parcel Division Asset will be created.  Note that your changes won't take place until you mark this asset as 'Completed'. 

Fill out the details of the subdivision:



In this case we're creating just one new parcel. The acres entered will be subtracted from the existing parcel (Parcel "A") acreage, but the overall property acreage would stay the same.  I chose not to add it to a new Stewardship Site because this parcel will be disposed of (not managed).


Click on 'Not Started' and change it to 'Completed'.  Then Confirm the status change.





Back on the Property details page, we see that the Property is now comprised of two parcels.  You probably want to update the map data, as well. Here I've added a grey shading to Parcel B:





The last step will be to actually dispose of the sold parcel. Select the parcel to dispose of and click on the 'Dispose' button:




You're taken to the Disposition Asset screen. Enter the details of the disposition, including, name, type, and date. You can record the amount you received for the disposition (sale), as well as further details. When you're done, be sure to mark the status as 'Completed':



The parcel has now been disposed:




To finish recording the full transaction, we still need to enter the Easement Property Record (Property "B"). Follow the steps to enter a new Property Record, filling out all of the necessary details and adding the parcel boundary to the map:




Note that I added this Property to a new Property Group 'Complex Transaction A', which I also added Fee Property "A" to.  When I click on the groups icon to the left of the screen, it displays the other Properties in that group:




Next you'll want to create Stewardship Sites for the parcels which you manage.  The remaining Fee parcel and the Easement parcel will likely need to be two different Stewardship Sites.  Follow these instructions to create new Stewardship Sites.

Finally, since the disposed Fee parcel and the new Easement parcel overlap, the acres may be double-counted in our organizational 'total acreage protected' count.  To correct the error, go to the disposed parcel and change 'Count in Success' to 'No'.




"What about phased easements?"

It depends -- If each 'Phase' is represented by its own conveyance document, then each phase should be entered as its own Property record (grouped together through 'Property Group').  Recording things in this way has the added benefit of tracking each phase independently as an 'Active' property record.  If the phases are added by amending the original easement, then you can add additional parcels at each phase by using Amendment property assets.  Finally, if each phase is its own conveyance document but the final step is to 'amend' the final document to combine multiple interests, then you would add an amendment asset to the final Property record which added multiple parcels and then dispose of the now nullified original property records.

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