Listening and Finding the “Win-Win”

Helping Clients from
“What They Think They Have to Do”
to “What They Really Want”

Ofen the assignment a client asks us to do isn’t really what they want. Our job is to listen and figure that out. Here is one such story.

When Jocelyn Van Bokkelen called to say that she wanted to sell her house, I was surprised. I knew she had just built a beautiful round horse barn and indoor arena on her 146-acre hilltop farm. Seemed odd.conservation

What Jocelyn explained was that it was the land that she loved. The house had come along with the land, and she really wasn’t crazy about it. She’d live in a yurt, she said, if she could be on this land.

The house was built in 1978, and was way too big with a series of wings and a lot of space Jocelyn didn’t need, including an indoor pool. It was also sited right in the middle of the property, with great views, commanding the top of Kinney Hill. So, not easy to sell without compromising the rest of the property. And with its odd floorplan, not really easy to sell, period.

conservation image 2Some thinking ensued.

We walked the property. It was gorgeous, prime working farmland, abutting other conserved land.

An idea emerged: how about selling a conservation easement on the property, ensuring its protection forever, and using the proceeds from the easement to rationalize the house, making it smaller and more functional for Jocelyn’s needs. No need to go all the way to living in a yurt; how about just less house?

conservation. extra farm shot_CCLandVest’s Nick Pratt and Jim Monahan came up with a conceptual plan and values for the property to help Jocelyn think through her conservation options. Nick then managed outreach to the local and regional land conservation organizations and assisted in structuring the conservation easement and managing the sale process. The result, three years later, was a bargain sale of a conservation easement to the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (SELT). Funding was provided by the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) as well as other public and private sources.

Conservation. Sunset at Kinney Hill, now conserved_CC

We were grateful to be a part of this wonderful conservation project, with thanks to Jocelyn who said, “I’m glad that I asked LandVest to come up and visit that blustery day. I really thought I had to do something I didn’t want to do, and because of their experience and skill set (and ability to listen between the lines, I guess), they were able to help me figure out a way to get what I really wanted done. The land is conserved, I love the way my new house fits. We all win.”

If we can help you figure your way through a real estate dilemma, we are here to help.


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About the Author

Ruth Kennedy Sudduth

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