You want to find that hidden gem when buying a piece of land, but we’ve all heard the horror stories where people buy the perfect piece of property only to be let down in the near future. There is a lot more that goes into land than just the layout, acreage and what you can tell from the outside.
We’re going to discuss how you can find information that goes well beyond what’s listed inside of your property description. This will allow you to find the true information about the area, so you know how to reduce your risks when buying land.
Research the Surrounding Area
The surrounding areas of your land have a major impact on your profitability. A good example of this is when you’re trying to rent the property out. You wouldn’t want to buy a parcel of land only to find out that the areas around you will be basically deserted.
You want to see what the local area has in terms of:
* Economic growth
* Crime rate
* Seasonality conditions
* Land opportunities
Also, if you have land that is right near a bustling city but not in the city center, you may consider building rental homes on the property. But if the surrounding area is surrounded by farms, rental homes may not produce as much of an income as actually farming the land or leasing it for grazing purposes. But finding this information will take a lot of research.
What I like to do is the following:
* Go to Google Maps
* Type in your address
* Take a tour of the local area on Google Maps
From here, I would make note of the surrounding cities, and do a little bit of research of each city. What do the cities have to offer? What's the population of the cities? Do the cities have high crime rates? All of this information will help you to know the land around your investment property a little bit better.
Look into Seasonality Conditions
Seasonality is definitely a consideration on the east and west coasts. Any property that is near the ocean is a perfect example of a property that has seasonality conditions. Taking a look at the small town of Belmar, New Jersey is a great example of an area that has immense potential in the summer. Winter rentals in the area are very cheap, even below average in some cases.
But people pay several thousands of dollars per week to rent these very same homes that rent for $800 - $1200 a month during the winter. Owners of these properties will often make $1,000 - $2,000 a week when they rent their property during the summer. People come to this quaint area because there are many boardwalks within 30 to 40 minutes, and Belmar itself has a small boardwalk and a beautiful beach along with many great restaurants. The larger homes can often rent for $5,000 or more a week, but these homes are right next to the water.
Seasonality should be a major consideration no matter what property you’re buying. You can find property near the mountains, for example, in Asheville, North Carolina or in the general vicinity. Many people will go to these towns during the months of September and October because of the Blue Ridge Pkwy., and the beautiful mountain views during the winter.
Skiing is also very popular at this time, and renting out cabins for very high prices is a good option. So, you’ll want to look into the seasonality of the location. A good way to do this is to look at what is popular during both winter and summer. If the area is known for its pristine beaches, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to rent the home for a much higher price during the summer. And if the area is known for its great skiing conditions, you’ll know that you can always rent this property to skiers during the winter.
Discuss The Area with Your Neighbors
I have found that one of the best ways to learn about the surrounding area is to talk to your neighbors, or potential neighbors, for that matter. This will allow you to know how the area has changed, and to get to know the person that will be living next to your property.
I would ask the neighbors the following questions:
* How has the area changed in recent years?
* Do you feel safe in this area?
* Have housing prices risen in the past few years?
* Are there any concerns you have with owning property in the area?
Neighbors will discuss very important information with you. Sit down and talk to your potential neighbors before making a large land purchase.
Think About Schooling and Crime
Sometimes, you’ll find that you don’t have the opportunity to see the land in person. When this happens, you’ll need to use a few online resources to determine the area that you're purchasing land in.
Learning About Local Schools
There are few outlets that you can use to research schools, including:
* http://www.greatschools.org/ - The perfect resource to learn about schools, according to local reviewers.
* http://www.schooldigger.com/ - A great resource that also includes district reviews and rankings.
Learning about the local schools is important if you plan on building a home and selling it because buyers are looking for homes that have great local schools for their kids.
Learning About Crime
Crime is a major concern no matter where you go in the country. You want to learn about local crime statistics, and this information can be found at:
* FBI Crime in the U.S. - This is the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s own website that lists up to date crime statistics.
You can also go to many city forums, and look to see what the neighbors are talking about. I personally like to also look at local newspapers to find out if crime is bad.
Contacting Local Jurisdictions
Virtually every city in the country has their own website. I would search for these websites through Google, and call your local jurisdiction to talk about your plans for your land. The best way to find out if you’ll be able to build a three-story home is to talk to the local jurisdiction, so give them a call and discuss your plans to know what can and can't be done in the city.
All of this information will help you when purchasing a piece of land. The only other thing that I do recommend is that you look into the local real estate market, and see how the market has changed in the last 10 years. I might even go back as far as 20 years because just seven short years ago, the real estate market tumbled, which will skew the figures a little bit.
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