Buying land is a major decision and a huge responsibility. Even though ValuedLand.com has a incredible 90 day money back guarantee and a 365 day exchange policy, you need to deliberate carefully on the decision and make sure the property is the right one for you. There are many factors that must be considered before you make your final choice. In fact,
even to the most experienced land buyer. To get you started in the right direction, below is a list of the most important factors to think about before you make the final decision to purchase a plot of land.
1.Does the land have road access?
Having road access is vitally important. If you have a deed that states you have legal access to your home, no one will ever be able to keep you from getting there. If you do not have guaranteed legal access to your home, it is possible that somewhere along the way you will not be able to reach your front door– neither by car nor by foot. When you look at a property with the intent to purchase it, make sure you have access. While some people want the deed to state these qualifications specifically, you may not need to be that stringent. I have sold recreational land to people that had restricted access. It really depends on what the intended use is. If you are not going to live there and you can drive your jeep or ATV to the area it may not be a big deal.
- Water sewage and drainage
There are often many stipulations regarding water, sewage, and drainage put on parcels of land. These are generally quite specific and can severely limit usage or building capability. For example, if there is a creek running through your property, it might belong to the municipality where you live and therefore not be available for you to use legally. You also must check to find out the areas regulations on septic tanks and outhouses. These issues are particularly important if the property is located on a watershed. It is also vitally important to know if the lot “perks”. If a land does not perk, it will not support a septic tank. Often, you will not be granted a building permit on land that does not perk, so it is important that you get this information before you commit to buying the land.
Easements are rights and privileges someone has on another person’s property. It is important to find out what easements the property you are buying has as well as what easements someone else has on yours. Knowing your easement rights is essential for building access roads, erecting power and telephone lines, and other similar projects that will help to make your home more convenient and make it more attractive to future buyers.
- Availability of utilities
Unless you plan to live entirely off the grid, having access to basic utilities such as electricity, water, sewage, and telephone is important. If the land you are interested is not in an urban or suburban area, there is no guarantee that it has easy access to the creature comforts that come with the utilities many of us take for granted on a daily basis. In more rural areas, you might need to add an electric line to the property, which could cost a considerable amount of money if it is allowed. It would be a shame to purchase a piece of land only to find out after-the-fact that you would have no way to watch your 52-inch plasma TV. In many rural areas, however, people use solar and other self generated power mechanism quite successfully.
- Who owns mineral and timber rights
The rights to materials such as timber and unfound minerals may seem unimportant at the time you purchase a parcel of land. However, you need to look into the future, because they may be critically important some day. If you do not own the mineral rights to the land and coal was found there, you need to know if the owner has the right to legally tear everything of yours down to extract the coal from the ground, and if you would have no recourse. Similarly, if you do not have timber rights to the trees on your property, you will not be able to use the wood at your will. Also, if someone owns a timber contract, find out the specific details of it so you can be protected if something happens.
- Community attitudes
Do some research on the community where the property lies. Talk to people who live in the area and find out their feelings on where they live. The prevailing attitudes of the people in the neighborhood could become the deciding factor on whether or not you purchase the land.
Zoning is another critical factor for buying a piece of land. Zoning restrictions dictate what can and cannot be built on a particular plot. If you want to build a house on the land but it is only zoned for agricultural use, you may be out of luck. Zoning variances will also be able to tell you what permits you will need; restrictions on the property; and any set backs, minimum square footage and frontage rules that must be followed. You can check zoning restrictions at the city hall for the municipality where the land lies. The folks at city hall will also be able to if any zoning changes are in the works and will also help you obtain a building permit when you need it. Counties often put much of this information on the internet, but it is always good idea to call and get clarification. However, make sure that you get something in writing if you begin to do something that is not exactly within the zoning.
- Soil quality
Soil quality is more important than you might think, especially in some regions of the country. Often the quality of the soil will dictate how far you must excavate before you can build a foundation for your home and other buildings. Excessive moisture in the soil can add tens of thousands of dollars to building costs. Also, if you need to build a well for water you also must find out how deeply you will need to dig, which can also be expensive. Getting the information on soil quality so you can factor these costs into your building expenses can be the difference that determines the affordability of buying land.
The presence of hills or dips in the ground might not seem important at the outset. But, they are a huge determining factor when it comes to building on the land. These features can put strict parameters on what you can build and how much it will cost. Topography also includes any trees that are on the property. Do not forget that if you want to build in an area that has lots of trees that it will be expensive to remove them. Topography goes beyond the small hills, dips, and trees that are on the property. If the land is quite large, you also must be mindful of cliffs, mountains, ravines, and valleys that might affect your ability to build on the property.
- Who maintains the roads
This point is particularly important in areas where the roads are not paved. If the responsibility falls upon you rather than the municipality, you must consider that point carefully. Ask yourself if you have the means, ability, equipment, etc. that are necessary to do an adequate job with the maintenance. Also, ask yourself if you want that amount of responsibility. Keep in mind that if it is your responsibility to maintain the road, you may also liable if someone were to get seriously hurt on the road.
- Future development plans
This point is another one you can check with the city hall of the local municipality. It is in your best interests to know how the surrounding land is going to be developed in the future. If you are looking for a quiet and serene location and there are plans to build a shopping center down the block, this parcel of land is not for you.
- Tax obligations
Every property owner is required to pay real estate taxes. The tax base in every area is different, and it varies greatly across the country. You need to consider what your annual tax obligation will be before you purchase land because if you cannot afford the extra costs, you can easily find yourself in deep trouble with the government. Also, some areas have taxes that are exorbitantly high. As a rule of thumb, your taxes should be between 1-4% of the property’s full market value. If it is more than that, find a different property to buy.
- Flood zones
Without question, you need to know if a piece of land you are interested in is in a flood zone. Often, lots are vacant and underpriced because of this reason. Properties that have a high likelihood of flooding are difficult and expensive to insure. So, you will want to know before you purchase the land what the costs associated with buying land that is in a flood zone.
- What is the size and shape of the property
Some pieces of land look good at first. But, when you determine their true size and shape, they are useless for building upon. So, before you make your final decision to buy a piece of land, make sure that its size and shape are adequate for your building needs.
If you are in the market for buying land, keep these tips in mind as you are searching properties. It may save you a lot of headaches in the long run.