Purchasing a vacant lot, like any other real estate acquisition, is a major undertaking. There is a lot of critical thinking that goes into the process.
The things you should look for when buying vacant land are the location of the land, its zoning and topography, the costs involved, permits that you’ll require, access to utilities, road access, restrictions, and other factors that we’ll discuss in this article.
Buying vacant property brings with it a slew of challenges that you won't ordinarily encounter when purchasing a home. A vacant lot may be subject to a variety of limitations. Moreover, it isn't easy to come by, with everything from leases and zoning limitations to environmental issues, which might turn your dream property into a nightmare.
Our experts have worked in real estate for a long time, and everything from basic costs and city rules to site surveys and restrictions is covered thoroughly through their experience. So you can count on us to provide you with expert guidance on what to look for when buying vacant land.
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There is nothing more crucial than the location of the vacant land, regardless of why you're buying it. If you want to invest, it's critical to purchase land that has good resale value. If you're looking to establish a business, don't go for land that's far from your potential customers, and if you're looking to build a home, don't buy land that you can't build on.
You should have a broad idea of where you want to buy land before you go out looking for it. You can go to survey some locations and use internet tools to assist you. Google Maps will help you review the area and nearby amenities. You must pay attention to the community while you shop for land because they are both critical for whether you're looking to invest, start a business, or build a home.
2. Zoning and Topography
Understanding what land can be used for and the greatest possible use of the asset is critical. Most offices can assist you with this matter with a couple of calls to their local planning and zoning division. You can quickly evaluate if the land you're looking to buy will meet your needs or the interests of the people you hope to sell it to in the future.
The property's topography is also crucial. In many circumstances, the geography of the land has a serious influence on the property's usefulness.
You should conduct a preliminary study to determine the location of your property as well as the land's condition. One of the most effective methods of doing this is to use Google Earth to map out all of the potential peaks and troughs on the vacant land you want to buy.
3. Finances and Costs Involved
Before looking at vacant pieces of land, you should know how much you can afford, just like you would with any other purchase. Land purchases are mostly made in cash since lenders are hesitant to lend money for undeveloped land. Examine the amount of money you have or can acquire to determine your budget before you buy your land.
Keep in mind that utilities and construction costs will be high. In some situations, you may have to pay for the installation of power and water.
4. Availability of Utilities and Services
You'll need utility accessibility to any vacant lot you're planning to buy for a home or company.
Some of the fundamental amenities include electricity for power, gas for heat, telephone service for communication, and clean water for sanitation and drinking. When construction starts, you'll want most or all of those incorporated into the property. Purchasing unoccupied land with utilities already connected is one way to completely avoid all this hassle.
If a property lacks exposure to any of these basic essential services, it may not be the best place to build a home or start a business.
5. Usage Restrictions
Most of the vacant land you'll come across will have some sort of restriction on its use. Restricted usage isn't always a terrible thing, but you must know what the property can be used for.
If you aren't informed of property restrictions before making a purchase, they may interfere with your plans for the land. Even though most property investors don't do this, you should always take the time to learn the restrictions before purchasing a piece of vacant land.
This will prevent you from buying a property that demands upkeep you shouldn't have to do or can't be used for the reason you anticipated.
6. Environmental Tests
A patch of land must be inspected as it allows you to understand what you're purchasing and whether you'll be able to construct a home or building on it.
Environmental examinations look for pollution from earlier uses in the soil. A previous gas station or automotive body shop, for instance, is more likely to have toxic soil, making it impossible to build residential houses there. The land's likelihood for flooding, as well as inadequate soil conditions for construction, are also issues to be concerned about.
Even an accomplished real estate agent lacks the technical competence to guarantee that the study makes the property a sound investment; hence, a specialist should analyze these results for your peace of mind.
7. Road Access
Although road access may appear to be something that can be easily determined, it is a complicated problem when purchasing vacant land. It's unlikely to be an issue in cities, but in the countryside, rural lands for sale might be shut off from the main road and only accessible through private access.
Millions of properties around the world have no connection to the road. They are surrounded by other individually-owned land, and the site is legally unavailable because there is no means to get there without trespassing on someone else's territory.
If the land is truly inaccessible by public roads, it may be without water pipes or sewage. To manage those essential utilities, you may need a sewage tank and a well, which will only add to the cost of construction. This problem can be solved if you can secure legal access to the property by one of your neighbors allowing you to pass through their land to your property. This isn't an enormous obstacle, but it's something you should know before making a purchase.
8. The Presence of Endangered Animals on the Land
A variety of endangered species and their ecosystems are protected by both the national and provincial governments. Some exotic animals, such as the bald eagle, are well-known, while others, such as gray wolves, are disputed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers maps that show where federally recognized endangered animals can be spotted near you and the kind of safeguards that the government will enforce.
During new housing, the government provides funding or loan schemes to finance the preservation of endangered animals and their ecosystems. Property enhancements that preserve endangered ecosystems can also contribute to enhancing storm drainage and preventing soil erosion impact.
Almost every government agency enforces endangered species legislation by issuing or refusing licenses for specific construction or other activities. Before proceeding, you may need to seek one or more permissions if your property is home to an endangered animal.
Constructing without permission on land inhabited by endangered species can be a huge disaster. Contact an environmental engineer or an environmental biologist if you're unsure whether you'll run into any problems with the government due to the presence of endangered animals near the vacant property that you're planning to buy.
9. Flood Zone
Property is practically flooded in some areas of the country, leaving chunks of land unoccupied. There may be residences near a body of water in other locations that are at a higher risk of flooding. A high probability of floods is bad news unless you're purchasing a block of land to move it into a marshy disaster. The devastating force of a flood will destroy structures completely or cause a loss of thousands of dollars in water damage.
Examine the plats to see if your lot is in a flooded area. Previous land research may already have performed the legwork for you by sketching out the property's altitude and identifying probable flood zones.
Property near bodies of water can be incredibly valuable, but its closeness can also cause a slew of complications, so be sure you understand the consequences of your decision.
Almost everything you construct will need a permit. Before you start building, you'll need to deal with political zoning and secure permits for building, burning, and other activities.
Construction permits safeguard the property and keep you accountable to construction rules, which ensure you don't build something that will crumble like a stack of cards.
The entire construction process will involve several permits. For instance, you'll need a permit for installing a septic system. Electrical work will need a separate permit, and plumbing will also require that you get a permit before any work can begin. The process can be hectic and time-consuming, especially when you have to take permission for each and everything. However, the good thing about it is that all the documentation will ensure a solid, entirely legal commitment at the end of each day.
Purchasing unoccupied land could be the best way for you to build a home or building that suits your needs. It can also be a wise real estate investment as you can make the required modifications and sell the property at a higher price when its value increases.
Collaborating with knowledgeable professionals, doing environmental studies, obtaining a survey, and being aware of all the permit work required will allow you to get the right piece of land that meets your needs. The realm of real estate can be tricky, and navigating through uncharted territory can be difficult for you.
Therefore, before you decide to invest in real estate, make sure you know what to look for when buying vacant land. Pay special attention to everything we have listed above and get in touch with a knowledgeable realtor who can assist you in the best possible way. This will eliminate the guesswork and help you make the right decision – one that doesn't hurt you later.
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