While some people may think that buying land is easier than buying a home, that is not always true. There are just as many, if not more, things to consider when purchasing a vacant lot or acreage. When starting the hunt for land to buy, you should know what you intend to do with the land:
- Are you planning to build your dream home?
- Do you want to put a modular or mobile home on the lot?
- Need space for livestock or horses?
- Are you purchasing for personal recreation?
- Do you want to use it for commercial purposes?
Since the purpose of land purchases widely varies, we’ve outlined some of the top considerations when buying land.
What is the Zoning?
Knowing the property’s zoning before buying is essential to ensure you can legally execute your vision for the property. Your real estate agent will be able to help you identify the property’s zoning and how it can affect your building plans. Talk with your agent and the local planning commission about future plans for the surrounding land of the piece of property you’re interested in buying. Doing your homework before purchasing will help you make a more informed decision and whether it fits your plans.
Developed vs. Undeveloped Land
As you probably guessed, developed land is often ready for you to start your building process with roads and utilities on site. On the other hand, undeveloped land will require buyers to build roads into the property, bring in utilities, drill a well, or install a septic system. It’s important to know the cost of making these needed improvements on undeveloped land to help you decide which option best fits your budget.
Are There Any Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions?
Often found with land within a subdivision, planned community, or complex, covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) are rules governing the use of a certain piece of real estate. CC&Rs will be recorded in the county clerk’s office and run with the land. The HOA, builder, or developer commonly enforce these rules, and these restrictions can affect your building plans. Check with your real estate agent if there are any restrictions attached to the land you are interested in, and if so, ask to see a copy of the CC&Rs. Property restrictions can vary greatly, so it’s important to review them to ensure it does not hinder your future plans with the land.
Does the Property Have Any Easements?
While it does not apply to every piece of property, some land you are thinking about buying may have easements attached to the deed. An easement is when someone has the right to use your property for a limited, specific purpose and transfers with an ownership change.
Common easements include:
- Driveway access to or through the property
- Utility easements to place power or gas lines on the property
If the land you’re purchasing has any easements attached, they will be identified during the title search. To avoid surprises during the buying process, you should do your due diligence to ask about any potential easements with properties you’re looking at.
Conduct a Survey
Even when purchasing residential property, it’s important to know where the boundary lines are. Ask your agent if there’s an existing survey available to see the property lines. If there is not a survey available, you can call a surveyor to identify the boundary lines of the land and help ensure you build in the correct spot on the property. Surveyed land will have iron pins marking the corners of the lot, so you may be on the lookout for markers when looking at a piece of land.
Will the land Perk Properly?
If you are planning to build on land that will require a septic system, you will need a perk test completed to ensure the property will be compatible with the size septic system needed for your desired house size. Since not all land will properly perk to meet your building needs, it’s essential to set up a perk test as part of your contingencies when making an offer on vacant land. This will help ensure the property is ideal for your dream home site before reaching the closing table.
Know the Topography and Soil Conditions
While any land may seem ideal for constructing your dream home, the entire land may not be suitable to be built upon based on the topography or soil conditions of the property. Preparing the land for safe building conditions is essential, and poor soils or unlevel land lay can greatly increase the construction cost before you even start the building process.
Understand the Permitting Process
If building a structure on the land, you’ll need to understand what permits are required before getting started. Check with the local county or city offices where the land is located to determine the required type of permits for your project and their costs. Understanding these requirements will help you prepare for the building process and ensure you set a proper budget and realistic timelines. Your real estate agent will help refer you to the right offices and departments to help you get the ball rolling for building your dream home.
While it’s not an exhaustive list of considerations when buying land, the list above will help you make a more informed decision when searching for vacant lots and acreage. If you have any additional questions about buying property in Southwest Virginia or Northeast Tennessee, contact our local professionals. We will walk you through the process and ensure you find the right land to build your dreams.