The Williamson Act
(The California Land Conservation Act of 1965)
If you are considering purchasing 100 acres or more in California, you should be aware of California’s Williamson Act.
The California Land Conservation Act of 1965–commonly referred to as the Williamson Act – enables local governments to enter into contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. In return, landowners receive property tax assessments which are much lower than normal because they are based upon farming and open space uses as opposed to full market value.
State of California, Department of Conservation
One of the first questions you should ask of the real estate agent or land owner: "Is the property in the Williamson Act?"
If a property is presently under a Williamson Act contract, than any subsequent purchaser of the property will be bound by the provisions of the contract. This can be a good or bad thing! Your intended use of the property will determine whether or not the Williamson Act will be of a benefit to you.
If you are intending to purchase the property and basically continue with an agricultural or open space type use, the Williamson Act will be of a benefit to you by providing a lower tax rate.
On the other hand, if you intend to develop the property into a subdivision, retreat center, have multiple residences, etc, then any property under the Williamson Act will generally not allow these (non-agricultural) uses. You will want to shop around for a property that is not in the Act.
For additional information, please refer to the following website: Williamson Act
Buyers who are interested in purchasing land in the Williamson Act should review AB1492 and check with the County where the property is located to determine what they can or cannot do with the property.