Owning Land In South Carolina: Pros & Cons | askBAMLand

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Before owning land, it’s essential to consider the ups and downs of becoming a landowner. And if you’re looking towards South Carolina, we’ve got you covered.

Land in South Carolina is appealing because you have so many options for finding the right property for you or your family. You can find land near big cities like Charleston and Columbia, or that's more secluded and quiet, like out in the country or on a lake or river— there are so many choices!

The pros of owning land in South Carolina include affordable land prices, low property taxes, and potential investment opportunities on the parcel. The cons include dealing with zoning laws and large deposit requirements.

South Carolina is one of the easiest states to settle. If you plan to build your dream home, farm, start an equestrian ranch, or relocate here for business, you will benefit from the hospitable nature of South Carolinians.

If you've been considering owning land in South Carolina, you are not alone. We have researched far and wide to bring you the pros and cons of taking this move. Stick around to see if it's worth getting a parcel in The Palmetto State.

Table of Contents

What Are the Pros of Owning Land in South Carolina?

Whether you plan to turn the land into a commercial hub, build a dream home, or use it as agricultural land, find out about the pros of owning land in South Carolina. Having this information will give you a clear picture of what to expect.

Affordable Prices

This southern state has one of the lowest land prices. It is also one of the best places to build your dream home, retire, farm crops, and set up an equestrian development.

From Cherokee, Union, and York in the north, Georgetown and Horry to the East, Edgefield, and McCormick in the West, to Beaufort and Charleston down south, many affordable lands are available throughout South Carolina for sale.

As of 2021, the price of farmland per acre stood at $2,830 per acre. And if this is the price for arable land, we can safely assume that it’s possible to find even lower asking prices for other types of plots.

Property Tax Exemption Laws on Land

Anyone purchasing land for use by a church or nonprofit organization will be exempt from paying property taxes on that land. However, the exemption does not apply if you have purchased the land for use as residential or commercial properties, even if the church or nonprofit organization runs them.

Additionally, legal residents of South Carolina who have lived in the state for at least 12 months can also apply for a property tax exemption on your property. To be considered, you need to apply for this exemption every year.

Potential Investment

Owning land in The Palmetto state is a great investment as you can use it to diversify your portfolio. Owning land is a good investment as it’s a finite resource with unlimited demand. And thanks to a high appreciation rate and low property taxes, owning property in South Carolina can be a valuable investment.

For instance, as the top producer of tobacco, poultry, and eggs in the country, South Carolina is a fine place if you plan to start a farm. Not only will you be putting the land to economic use, farmland appreciates at an average rate of 2.4%. So, if you pay $2,830 per acre, the resale value increases to a little over $3000 per acre in about five years.

South Carolina is a popular destination for hunting wild boar, deer, quail, and even wild turkeys. Owning hunting grounds could generate viable income come hunting season. You could lease out the land or collect fees from outdoors people looking to hunt on your property.

Low Property Tax

One of the biggest reasons to consider buying land here is that it's one of the most affordable states. The average property tax rate in South Carolina is just 0.55%, with a median annual property tax payment of $980—one of the most affordable in the U.S.

Another great advantage is that all counties do not charge property tax on landowners aged 65 and above or if you're declared totally and permanently disabled.

South Carolina also has a very low sales tax rate of 6%. It's among the lowest in America. It’s another reason you should consider investing or retiring in South Carolina as your home state.

Cons of Owning Land in South Carolina

It wouldn't be complete if we only looked at the pros. We also have to consider the downside of owning land in South Carolina.

Zoning Laws

Different regions have varying zoning regulations. The municipal or local laws govern how real property can and cannot be used in particular geographic areas. Ensure that the zoning restrictions don't interfere with your plans.

Additionally, some properties have easements, meaning that another individual or organization owns the right to use your land somehow. If there are any, it may restrict you from using your land however you want to if it interferes with the easement guidelines.

Larger Down Payment

Purchasing land will cost you big bucks. And even when the payment terms are flexible, you still have to make a down payment of about 10% - 25%, in additional expenses like surveyor and fees.

If you plan to develop and sell the property sometime in the future, you may have to pay tax on any profit you make from the residential or commercial plot sale.

How to Buy Land in South Carolina

The process for buying land in South Carolina is very similar to buying land in any other state. You should contact a broker or realtor specializing in land sales to guide you through, especially if you're a non-resident of SC or a non-US citizen.

You'll need to perform a few tasks to ensure you're buying the right property and getting the right financing for your purchase. This guide will help see you through, from scouting to the final purchase.

Step 1: Research and Scouting

Finding the perfect piece of land is probably the most daunting and time-consuming aspect of the process. Before settling on a piece of land, consider factors like:

  • The location of the property.
  • The intended purpose of the land.
  • Geographical features within or nearby.
  • Access to roads and other utilities.
  • Local zoning laws and restrictions on the property.
  • Your budget vs. asking price.

If you reside in South Carolina, the best way to scout for land is in-person. For non-residents, the online market will allow you to access available parcels. If you don't have the time to scout by yourself, hire a realtor or broker to do so on your behalf.

Once you locate an area you're interested in, contact the selling company or realtor to express your interest.

Step 2: Surveying

We have all heard tales of people who fell victim to unscrupulous land brokers and shady deals. To avoid wasting your time and money, never rely on what the seller says or posts in an advert. It is up to you to practice due diligence.

Hire a surveyor to determine the boundaries of the land. They will use maps to detect any property encroachments and explain zoning restrictions if any. It’s the best time to inquire about statutory licenses and permits.

If you plan to construct buildings or use the land to grow crops or rear animals, you may also have to contract a geotechnical engineer. They will test the properties of the soil to ascertain the land's fitness for such activities.

Step 3: Price Negotiations

By the time you're getting to discuss the final selling price of the parcel, the land has already undergone valuation. At this point, the involved parties negotiate until a tentative agreement is reached.

A down payment is made as a deposit. It’s usually a percentage of the purchase price.

Step 4: Closing the Deal

When you complete the payment or sign a binding contract to pay the balance within a stipulated period, plans to obtain a deed follow suit. If you follow this process, the transaction will be smooth and binding.

Can a Non-U.S. Citizen Own Land in South Carolina?

Yes, it is possible to own land in South Carolina even if you are not a U.S. citizen or resident alien ( green card holder). There are no laws or restrictions that prevent an individual with foreign citizenship from purchasing or disposing of property in the U.S.

The key is to be familiar with the state's taxation and property ownership system. For instance, aliens are barred from holding more than five hundred thousand acres of land at a time. Well, unless the land is acquired on foreclosure of a mortgage. However, you cannot own such massive acreage longer than five years. But you can apply to be considered for an extension of five more years.

If you're a foreigner, the Surplus Property Office is an excellent source of credible information concerning the purchase or sale of land. They are the official department that handles the sale and disposal of land in South Carolina.


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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