Buying Land: What You Need to Know When Looking For Land for Sale


Created on Thursday, June 05, 2014
Updated on Monday, February 26, 2018
by Land Century

A vacant plot of land can be a great investment, especially when the real estate market is somewhat unsteady. Whatever you want to do with the land, there are pitfalls to look out for and a number of factors to consider before making the leap. Here are a few things that should know going in.

Make Sure That What You Want is Possible

When making an investment it is crucial to have a plan and to know the feasibility of what you want to do. This means that you have to check up on a few things. First, go to the local planning office and look up the zoning regulations for that area. This is important because you may find out that regulations prohibit anyone from building on this land, or place limits on what you can build. If this is the case you can either look into challenging the zoning regulations, or simply find another plot of land. Either way, foster good relations with the local planning and zoning departments well in advance and have a comprehensive set of plans to show them.

While you’re at the planning office, check into the county’s long term plans for this area. This should ensure that you don’t end up living next to a busy highway or tire factory in the next few years.

Depending on where you plan to build, there is also the possibility of deed restrictions. Is the land part of a subdivision? Is there a local homeowner’s association you have to be part of, and does that place restrictions on what you can build and where? Look into this, especially if you have a very specific vision for the property.

Consider Maintenance and Utilities

Land for sale in the middle of nowhere may seem like a good deal, but expenses can mount quickly. Connecting utilities like water and power to a property is a costly process so unless you find a spot with utilities already installed, some research is in order. Get as many quotes as you can and factor these costs into the overall budget as early as possible to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

It is also important to consider the condition of the land when you buy it. Will you have to clear trees and brush from the land before anything can be done to it? You should also go back to the planning office to check that it isn’t in a flood zone. Make sure there is a good level of elevation and that the area is designated as low-risk for flooding. This could save you a fortune further down the line.

Get the Land Surveyed

There are different types of survey, and the cost usually depends on the size of your land and how long the process takes. A standard survey determines the boundaries of your property and its exact size, two things that can be vital from a legal standpoint. A floodplain survey determines the aforementioned flood risk, and a construction survey will highlight the property’s exact boundaries and the best way to plan for construction. Paying for a survey or two at the beginning has the potential to save you a lot of money in the future.

Check with the previous owner to see if a survey has been done already, and how recently it was conducted. If the survey is outdated or the property boundaries have changed in the interim, it’s best to pay for a new one.

Consider the Practicalities

It is worth carrying out some final checks to ensure the land is suitable. For example, is there a road leading to the property, and if not, can you build one or negotiate access to another private road? Otherwise you could have a major issue on your hands when it comes to construction and, later on, quality of life.

You should also consider the neighbors. Are boundary restrictions or easements on adjacent property likely to cause a problem? If so, contact your lawyer and find out if your plans could be affected. It is a good idea to introduce yourself to your potential neighbors as soon as possible anyway, to find out if they will be source of help or trouble in the future.

Finally, consider the area and community in general. If possible, rent a house nearby for a month or two and talk to people in the area. This will give you a much clearer idea of the kind of place in which you are planning to build a home.

Buying land is a great investment if done right. Anyone who follows these guidelines, plans thoroughly, and consults with their lawyer and bank manager before making a decision is on the right track. As long as you do your research and invest carefully, you will benefit considerably from buying land. Here, at Land Century we are always willing to help and get the best advice for you. Contact us today and let us find the best land deal for you.

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