How To Secure Land From Township (Buying Guide) | askBAMLand

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If you are wondering how to secure land from a township, there are several steps you must take to make this happen.

Oftentimes we may find a piece of land that we want to buy the township owns that. Navigating through the process of buying such a piece of property can be challenging, but it can be done if you follow certain steps in a certain order to make that happen.

To secure land from a township, you will need to do the following:

  • talk to the township’s assessor
  • determine the process for the sale
  • get your finances in order
  • get your documents in order
  • work with a reputable real estate agent
  • make sure this is really what you want

Buying land that is owned by a township can be tricky. There are often politics involved and you may not be the only person interested in the land that you have your eye on. Because you may be buying land that is historical or was gifted to the township, there can also be certain rules or regulations around the property that are unique to that plot and need to be well laid out and understood before any money exchanges hands. But the procedure can run smoothly if you research the rules ahead of time and understand the process that you need to take.

I am a big fan of real estate, especially land purchases. I’ve done my due diligence and have laid out a buying guide that will help you know what needs to be done in order to secure land that you are interested in purchasing from a township.

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How Do I Secure Land From a Township?

Townships are small, geographical areas that house a certain number of residents as well as provide them with necessities like grocery stores, hospitals, libraries, and schools. A township will have its own rules and regulations that govern it and are usually places where many of the residents who live there are actively involved in decisions that are made for the whole.

A township is similar to a small city, with its own political leaders. Unfortunately, townships can at times be difficult to work with or buy land from, because of the hoops one must jump through to get the deal done.

Following are some pointers to help you secure the land you’re interested in with as little frustration as possible.

1. Talk to the Township’s Assessor

If you’ve found a piece of land that you are interested in, the first order of business will be to reach out to the town’s assessor and ask the questions necessary to start the process moving forward.

A township assessor is a person who has been elected into office to assess property values and decide a fair market value for each one.

This is done by looking at comparable properties to the one they are currently assessing. A good assessor will know the importance of gathering as much data as possible when determining what a property is going to be worth.

When you have found land that you are interested in purchasing, you will contact the township’s assessor first and let them know your intent.

They can then review the property with you, give you the exact size and boundaries of it and let you know if it’s indeed for sale, how much the asking price is, and what next steps are to be taken in order for you to secure the sale of the land.

A township’s assessor is a valuable person in this whole process. Forming and maintaining a good relationship with this person will only benefit you while you are going through the different steps needed.

2. Determine the Process For the Sale

This is an important step and will be different in each township, based on that town’s laws and way of handling land sales. Again, a good relationship with the assessor will go a long way in helping you navigate this part.

Each township has a certain way of handling land sales. Most will not offer to sell you a piece of public property until it has been announced openly to the general public.

This is usually done through the local newspaper, television, or radio ads, or by an announcement on the township’s main website. The assessor may also decide to list it with a real estate broker, though this is less common, as it could be seen as being unethical, especially if the assessor has a personal relationship with the chosen broker.

Public property almost always has to be made available to any of the town’s residents. It is very common for these land deals to be done through an auction, to which everyone is invited.

The township’s board of directors will be involved as well. They will be the ones to ultimately approve the fair market value of the land and what price it will be set for. Though the assessor may make suggestions based on his or her knowledge, the Board will ultimately approve them.

3. Get Your Finances in Order

Now that you’ve determined that the land you are interested in is definitely up for sale, and you know the process by which it is going to be sold, your next job is to ensure your financial situation is in good shape.

Oftentimes in a land deal through a township, you will need to have the cash upfront for the purchase, as the township won’t accept a land loan and you won’t be able to get a mortgage for a piece of property on which there is no structure.

If you don’t have the cash on hand, work with your bank or a reputable credit union to apply for a personal loan. A good, local banker will also understand the process of buying land from the township and can answer questions specific to your area.

If the land is to be sold at auction, decide ahead of time how much you are willing to pay for the property, then don’t let yourself be swayed into going over that price.

You can also find out ahead of time if you will need a cashier’s check at the time of the sale and who it is to be made out to.

Finally, take a good look at your overall financial situation and make sure that purchasing this land isn’t going to put too much stress on your monthly budget. You will want to factor in any property or sales tax as well.

4. Get Your Documents in Order

Similar to your finances, working to ensure that all your documents are in order before the sale of the property is a crucial part of the success of securing the land you want.

Documents that may be needed will include things like a government-issued identification card, bank balances or statements, proof that you live in the township and are not delinquent in any of your bills, a past utility statement, your most recent tax filings, and maybe proof of your citizenship or marital status.

As I mentioned earlier, each township is going to have its own governing laws around what they are going to need in order for you to buy public land. Knowing what those laws are, and having all the appropriate documents is going to make a big difference when it comes time for the final purchase.

5. Work With a Reputable Real Estate Agent

Though the township may not be working with a realtor, that doesn’t mean you can’t.

In fact  –  in most cases, I would highly encourage you to do so.

Land sales can be confusing and complicated, and when you are working with a land sale through any governmental body, more issues can arise than when you are buying land from another private citizen.

Having a reputable real estate agent who has done land sales like this one before could end up making a huge difference in how smoothly everything goes, and that all documents are recorded and filed correctly.

A real estate agent may charge you anywhere from 3 to 6 percent for their services. But, the added peace of mind and legitimacy that comes with hiring a professional will be well worth the added cost in the end.

Finding a licensed realtor shouldn’t be hard. There are websites that list local professionals and often word of mouth is the best way to find someone that knows the area and will work well with you.

6. Make Sure This is Really What You Want

Finally, before you make that final bid at the auction, or sign on the dotted line, make sure that this piece of land is really what you want.

Like I said earlier, buying land from a township can have a lot more different rules governing it than buying privately-owned land.

Even after the sale, there may be certain laws you must abide by that center on that once-public owned land that could prove to be more of a hassle than they are worth long term.

Make sure this is definitely the property you wish to own if it is, great! Follow these steps, and your purchase should be a happy one.


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.

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