If you are about to enter the real estate market for land, you may be wondering, “what is a parcel of land?” Let’s look at that definition and more.
The simple definition of a parcel is an extended area of land. When you are talking about buying or selling a parcel of land, it is the area of land that is on a certificate of title or registered with the city, county, or parish’s assessor’s office.
With the help of reliable dictionaries, encyclopedias, plus government websites, we will help you learn everything you need to know about land parcels. When talking about parts, parcels, tracts, and lots it can get a little confusing, so let us help you figure it out.
Table of Contents
Definition of Parcel of Land
As we have seen by the definition above, a parcel of land doesn’t have exact specifications. It is a property that is cleared or wooded. It can have rectangular or circular borders. A parcel is simply an extended area of land that has defined, legal borders.
What is the Difference Between Tract, Part, and Lot
We already talked about what a land parcel is, so let’s look at the other types of land. The tract, the part, and the lot.
Tract of Land
A tract of land is a large area that has been surveyed and has fixed boundaries. A tract of land can be broken down into lots and parcels. A large tract of land may have a wooded area and an open area.
A good way to think of it is my grandparent's farm was a tract of land with 58 acres. If we wanted to divide that up and sell it, the smaller areas are called parcels.
Part of Land
A part of land is an area in the tract that isn’t a demarcated area. It is an area of agriculture used like a farm. It isn’t a legally defined area.
My grandmother’s farm is a tract of land. The north pasture is a part of land.
Lot of Land
Lastly, we will touch on the lot. Several people use the term lot and parcel interchangeably, but there is a slight difference. A lot is also a legally defined piece of land, that is usually smaller portions of a land parcel or a tract.
My grandmother’s farm is a tract that was divided into parcels. Someone bought one parcel and made subdivided lots.
Can I Divide Up My Land Parcel
When a parcel of land is divided up, that is called a subdivision. How your parcel of land is divided up will depend on any rules and regulations of the area where the parcel is located.
Property owners need to go to their county, parish, or city offices to see what laws will govern how their parcel can be divided. It is possible they will have to file for a zoning hearing to divide up their property.
Do I Have to Buy a Full Parcel
If you don’t want to buy a full parcel of land, you have to approach the land owner about selling you a smaller portion called a lot. Whether or not this can be done will depend on regulations for the area the parcel of land is located.
If the landowner agrees, and it isn’t prohibited by local regulations, you can just purchase the lot. To prevent issues down the road, make sure you have your lot surveyed. You want your area to be legally marked from the parcel of land and filed in the appropriate offices.
How to Buy a Land Parcel
Types of Parcels
If you are looking to buy a parcel of land, the first thing you need to do is learn about the different types of parcels.
- Raw Land - Raw land is an area composed of trees, weeds, and bushes. It has no roads, no water, and no sewage. The parcel is in its natural state.
- Unimproved Land - This type of parcel may have some roads and electrical lines connecting close by. There could be a few or no trees, but there is still work to be done.
- Improved Land - These parcels of land are ready for use. They are like the land you see near a city center. There is easy access to water, electricity, and sewer.
Once you pick the perfect parcel of land for you, it is time to buy it. If it is already for sale, then you can just call the number on the sign. If it doesn’t look like it is for sale, then you will need to track down the owner and make an offer.
How Much Should You Pay for a Parcel of Land
The amount of money you offer to the land owner needs to depend on things like:
- Is the land prepared for development?
- Is the land cleared?
- Is it grassy open land?
- Is it low muddy land?
- Are there any buildings already on the land?
All these things will factor into the amount of money, time, and effort you have to put into the parcel before it is ready to be used.
Get Your Finances in Order
Before you approach anyone about buying a parcel of land, you want to make sure you are financially ready, especially if you are going to convince someone to sell their parcel of land.
This isn’t something you want to be scrambling for when the offer has been accepted. You need to know how much cash you are able to spend. If you can’t pay for the entire parcel in cash, then get pre-approved for financing at your bank.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
When buying parcels of land, you will need to look at zoning regulations, environmental concerns, and maybe even the water table! Educate yourself about the area you are buying in.
When you start development, you may have to build up your land, dig a well for water access, leave an area for the local wildlife, or get an easement to put in a driveway. Look into all considerations before purchasing your parcel.
How Do I Find the Borders of my Land Parcels
The last thing we will discuss is how to find the borders for parcels of land. This will depend on if you are in an urban area or a rural area.
If you have inherited a parcel, or you don’t have the paperwork for some other reason, you will need to go to your city or county’s tax assessor’s office. Many of these offices also have online portals you can use.
If you are having trouble locating your borders after using these offices, then you will need to hire a title company to help you pinpoint the exact location of your parcel. A title company can research the area and find the exact borders of your parcel as well as learn the history of the property.
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