For most aspiring homeowners, buying a plot of land is the commitment of a lifetime and it needs to be approached with careful consideration.
When choosing a plot of land, the most important factors to consider are your budget and your ideal location. However, there are so many other variables attached to a plot of land to consider such as permits, easements, property size, and also your end goals for the property.
The most common reason people buy a plot of land is to build a home for their future. This approach comes with so many benefits, as you are able to essentially design your home from scratch and build the living space you’ve always dreamed of. However, many landowners also purchase plots of land with alternate goals for their property such as building a business or converting the land to a conservation easement. No matter the reason, buying a plot of land is something that should be approached with due diligence and can wind up being an incredible investment opportunity.
The United States General Service Administration encourages thorough evaluation of any property that consumers are considering purchasing. They highlight the importance of researching the local policies of any state, city, and district that you plan on pursuing development so that there are no legal violations taking place.
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The most important thing to consider when on the market for a plot of land is your overall budget.
Property values vary greatly depending on so many factors, which can make it hard to determine what you can afford right now and what you’ll be able to afford in the long run.
If you have adequate savings and have the financial backing to commit to buying a plot of land without a downpayment or loan, then you are in a rather fortunate position and can likely begin hunting down your perfect property immediately.
This, however, is not normally the case for most people on the market, which means that you’ll have to weigh out some financial factors regarding your budget. Here’s what you should consider:
- Savings - having reasonable savings to start off with, will give you a great safety net and foundation to comfortably start your search.
- Income - sitting down and calculating your income and long-term job security will give you a realistic figure for what you can expect to pay off on your property.
- Mortgage and loans - in combination with your overall budget based on your saving and income, you will likely need to opt for a mortgage on the land. After sitting down with a banking professional, calculating the interest rates on your loan will need to be carefully considered.
Financial commitments in regards to land purchases are some of the biggest choices most people make in their entire lives, which is why a thorough analysis of your budget is absolutely crucial.
One of the biggest determining factors of the cost of your plot of land will be its location.
It goes without saying that most people want to live in an area that either has some sort of natural beauty surrounding it or is in - or near - an urbanized environment that can be conveniently accessed.
With that being said the more appealing attributes there are in regards to the location of the land you’re after, the more you can expect to pay in the long run. However, parcels of land located in very rural areas such as deserts, which have limited access to urbanized environments and don’t have significant natural aesthetics are often a very affordable and viable solution to budget-friendly consumers.
Let’s take a look at some of the location factors you should consider when purchasing a plot of land.
If you aim to buy land located within a city, town, or close to an urbanized environment, you’ll likely end up spending a bit more on your property.
The appeal of living close to an urban environment stems from the convenience and practicality of having access to regulatory needs such as:
- Shopping - having access to everything from grocery shopping to clothing outlets is always within arms reach.
- Schools - convenient access to schools is a major selling point for families. In addition, urban areas also have a variety of school options for parents to choose from.
- Public transport - having public transport as an option for your mode of transport lowers your dependency on your vehicle for everyday travel and contributes to greener living.
- Hospitals - if there is one thing you want to have nearby in an emergency situation it’s a hospital. This is also a matter of convenience for casual doctors visits - especially if you are required to go regularly.
- Better roads - roads are generally maintained far more routinely and often held to higher building standards than many rural roads.
- Better job market - your option to pursue or continue your career will be far more realistic when living in a city.
- Amenities - having the ability to go out for a meal at a restaurant, a night out with friends at a bar, or seeing a movie at the cinema are the little things that urban living offers.
These qualities are particularly appealing to younger generation buyers, as well as families that need to have daily access to urban resources. However, there are also some negative aspects to consider when living in an urban environment:
- Busy streets - the business of city life can be chaotic, which can cause increased and unnecessary stress in your life.
- Less access to nature - your escape into nature can be confined to your local public park or require a long drive to reach otherwise.
- Less living space - most urban areas have limited living space, which results in confined properties and restrained potential for development projects.
- Increased cost of living - due to the job market of cities and towns generally being quite good, the overall cost of living shoots up significantly.
- More pollution - the amount of pollution caused by vehicles results in poor air quality and can affect your long-term health. In addition, noise pollution caused by everyday city life is also something to consider.
Urbanization comes with as many advantages as it does disadvantages. You should also be aware that the scale of these factors is greatly dependant on the type of urban environment; cities tend to exacerbate both the good and the bad of these factors. While on the other hand humble small towns and small cities tend to strike a balance in the pros and cons.
Be sure to carefully consider what kind of urban environment best suits your needs when making a commitment to a parcel of land.
Aspiring landowners that are looking for plots of land in rural environments will be pleased to find that oftentimes properties in these areas are significantly cheaper than cities and towns.
This is due to the fact that your land will be further away from most urban resources and job markets, which drive up the price of the cost of living. While many people are wary of living in rural areas due to this, for some it’s actually a major selling point.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of buying a plot of land in a rural environment:
- Access to the outdoors - while many people living in cities have to drive to the outdoors, for rural inhabitants, the outdoors are often in your back and front yard.
- Privacy - when having land in a rural area, you can enjoy the solidarity of living on your own without the business and often chaotic nature of a city.
- More space - having more space on your property means you have the freedom to be creative with your land. You can grow food, set up recreational activities, or simply enjoy the satisfaction of having a huge backyard.
- Freedom to own pets - owning pets in a city can become quite a challenge. Having a bigger plot of land means that your pets are able to roam free without being confined to a home or apartment.
- Peace of mind - urban living often comes with stress, which results in being less happy. You can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having a plot of land away from the hustle and bustle.
These factors are often a huge selling point for individuals on the market that don’t want to deal with the hassle of living in a city. In addition, rural living does not always mean that you need to live in the middle of nowhere. There are plenty of options for buying a parcel of land that is within a reasonable distance between towns and even cities, which comes with all the benefits of rural living without the urban commotion.
Here are some of the disadvantages of living in a rural area:
- Lack of schools - families tend to struggle more with this, as there are limited options for schools and methods of transportation of reaching them.
- Accessibility - since rural areas tend to get less maintenance and upkeep throughout the year, the road conditions are less looked after. This can be particularly problematic in areas that experience harsh winters with heavy snow, which results in road closures.
- Poor connectivity - it’s quite common to experience issues with connection to the internet and TV in rural areas due to their remote location. In addition, these areas are often harder to reach by tech professionals that deal with these issues when they need to be solved.
Rural areas are a phenomenal place to buy plots of land for so many reasons, but they do come with their disadvantages. Depending on your needs, they may be the most affordable option for purchasing land.
It’s also important to remember that the location of your land, regardless of whether it’s in an urban or rural environment, can prove to be an incredible investment opportunity for re-sale. With that being said, hopping on profitable property investments early on can prove to be a cash cow for the future.
Other Factors to Consider
There are so many variables to evaluate and consider when hunting down that perfect plot of land. While it goes without saying that budget and location should be at the top of your list when weight out land specs, you should also keep in mind all aspects tied to land purchases.
Let’s take a look at some other factors you should consider when choosing a plot of land.
Your End Goals
Buying a plot of land as opposed to buying a property with pre-build development offers so much freedom to the owner of the land. The versatility of a plot of land gives you the ability to build and design a development project with minimal restraint and obstacles.
To really seal the deal with a land purchase, you should always have an end goal for the property in mind when considering a property. While most consumers on the market are aiming to buy land with the intention of building a home, many have alternative ambitions for their land use.
If your intention is to start a business from scratch, buying a plot of land, whether in an urban environment or rural environment, offers a lot of benefits.
You are often able to have a complete creative vision of your business and can design it the way you see fit based on your business goals. Given that the purpose of any business is to make a profit, you will need to carefully consider the budget for your plot of land and your business.
Additionally, the location that you choose for your plot of land can wind up being detrimental to the success of your business. The location of your property should be weighed out based on the product or service you are selling in relation to where your likely customer base will be.
With that being said, if you are opening a business that needs a lot of space such as a car dealership, buying a plot of land in a rural area outside of city limits is generally a safer bet, as this requires significantly less investment for the land.
However, if the customer base for your business is centralized to urban environments such as boutique stores and restaurants, opting for a plot of land located in a city or town will be the way to go.
It’s becoming ever more popular to buy land for the purpose of conservation use.
Many landowners that aim to pursue sustainable living for the planet and want to protect natural areas are taking it upon themselves to buy plots of land with environmental value for the purpose of converting the private plot into conservation land.
These kinds of land purchases are almost exclusively done within rural areas, as most urban environments have not been designed in a way that encourages green living. With that being said, buying any plot of land located in a rural area is not always worthy of conservation use.
To assure your plot of land has some sort of ecological value, you are going to want to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment on the land before purchasing it. To do this, you will need to hire a third-party evaluator or seek assistance from a land trust organization.
Here’s what you should evaluate in a plot of land that is intended to become conservation land.
Wildlife and Habitat
If your intention is to protect wildlife and habitat, you are going to want to ensure that the plot of land has significant ecological value for the local environment.
Finding a plot of land that has an abundance of natural species ranging from wildlife to plants, will be a safer bet for beginning your search.
Once you feel you’ve located a plot of land that meets these criteria, dispatching someone to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment will confirm the ecological value, so that you can begin the conversion process of turning your private lot into conservation land.
Another key reason why some individuals purchase properties is to protect the natural resources that exist on the land.
Over a century of land degradation, pollution, and deforestation has led many property owners to try to protect the environment by purchasing plots of land with significant natural resources on them.
The common resources that can be found on environmentally valued lands are:
- Freshwater - freshwater is a scarce resource that many conservationists are trying to preserve for the sake of habitat protection, outdoor recreation, and community utilization.
- Forest and vegetation - to mitigate the level of deforestation, conservationists will commonly buy plots of land that have a significant amount of forest and plant life.
- Soil fertility - land degradation has plagued our nation and jeopardized food production. Many conservationists combat this by purchasing fertile plots of land with the intention of preserving the fertile soil for future food growing.
An additional factor why individuals choose plots of land with conservation intentions is the tax incentives that come with the property. The conversion of private property into conservation land generally means that the value of the land will go down in price, but with the upside of receiving tax benefits from the government.
A factor that will likely determine the cost of your plot of land will be the size of the property itself.
When hunting down your ideal plot in relation to the end goals for the property, having an idea of how much land you will need to achieve this goal will help narrow your options down. In most cases, you want to opt for buying just what you need with a little excess space.
However, there are benefits to buying more land than you initially need. Buying a larger plot of land offers some benefits and some potential opportunities. Since the common trend of real estate is to increase in market value, the prospect of buying additional land can turn out to be a wise investment for the future.
This can be achieved in a number of different ways without the necessity of even selling the land you’ve designated for your home or business. By having a larger plot of land you can essentially divide the property into different sections and self them off independently to individual buyers.
In addition, there are some other benefits that come with buying a bigger plot of land such as:
- Outdoor activities
- Landscaping opportunities
- More privacy
Regardless of the intentions for your land, having a little extra space rarely hurts. You should, however, consider the market trends of land prices in the area you are evaluating to ensure that buying a larger plot is a worthy investment.
Permits and Restrictions
Before you commit to purchasing any plot of land you should thoroughly research the different types of restrictions that are associated with the property.
Zoning regulations play a huge determining factor in what you can do with the plot of land based on the state, city, or district you aim to pursue your development.
The zoning regulations in place can vary greatly from plot to plot, which is why it’s essential that you reach out to the department of city planning of your local government, which enforces these restrictions and grants approval for development projects.
The different types of zoning classifications will include:
In addition, you will want to be aware of any sort of conservation easements that may be placed on the property. As mentioned above, a property that has been established with this classification means that there can be a bulk of restrictions relating to how you can modify the land and what you can develop on it.
About THE AUTHOR
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.Read More About Brittany Melling