9 Important Questions to Ask Before Buying a Vacant Lot
At first glance, the vacant lot you’ve just found could seem like the best possible deal. But land buying typically isn’t a short-term investment, so before you go through with it, you must do your due diligence. That way, you can ensure you’re purchasing the appropriate land parcel for your desired use.
To help you prepare before proceeding with any land purchase, here are the top nine questions to ask.
How Big Is the Vacant Lot?
When you start land shopping, there’s a good chance that you already have an idea about what type of property you’re looking for. There are countless choices, such as building a custom ranch-style house, creating a private campsite, or starting farming. In addition, understanding the parcel’s size and shape will inform you how much open space you can access.
When requesting these details, it doesn’t hurt to require information regarding the property’s topography, slope, and elevation. With this information, you’ll be able to see the whole picture, assess the situation, and decide whether the vacant lot suits your needs or not.
What’s the Property Zoned For?
You must consider several factors when deciding what to do with your new parcel. Can the vacant lot be developed? What is additional work anticipated or conceivable on the nearby property? Is this land a residential, business, or agricultural property? Is it unrestricted? Although the seller should be able to explain the lot’s zoning, receiving the information directly from the county’s Planning and Zoning Department is always an option.
Is the Vacant Lot Part of the POA or HOA?
If the property is part of an HOA or POA, there will be an annual charge when you acquire land. They also have their own limitations and guidelines for current property usage that you should follow. If the owner doesn’t know whether or not the property is in an HOA/POA, it’s best to contact the county. They will give you information on whether there are POAs and HOAs in the area.
What’s the Title Chain?
When shopping for land, you might come across people who often advertise and attempt to sell land that they don’t truly own. Although it’s uncommon, you should be aware of it. This usually happens when the prior proprietor is deceased but didn’t expressly pass the property to a new owner in the will.
Always ask the seller to send you a copy of the deed to ascertain whether the parcel of property has a clear title chain. If they don’t have the deed on hand, you can look up the deed history on the county website. You will require the APN (Assessor’s Parcel Number) for this search. Instead of working with the county, you can employ a title company, but they can be costly — usually between $500 and several thousand dollars.
Are There Shared Facilities on the Property?
Occasionally, homeowners or developers have to take care of shared property or facilities such as water, septic, and roads. Typically, only developed areas—such as subdivisions or gated communities—have this problem. However, despite its rarity, the question made our list because, if there are any shared facilities, you need to know how they’ll be addressed and how much they might cost you.
How Much Do You Pay In Property Taxes?
Holding onto land long-term is less expensive than other real estate assets. This is due to the lack of improvements, structures, or additions. However, you still have to check the amount of annual property taxes before you buy it. It’s important to note that even if you do nothing to the property, you’ll still be responsible for property taxes which can be as little as $3 and as high as several hundred a year. Therefore, you should pay the taxes regularly or risk losing ownership.
So, always ask the land seller about property taxes, especially if you plan to hold the land long-term. If the seller doesn’t have information regarding the amount of annual taxes, use the APN and search the county’s online database, or contact the County Treasurer.
How Can I Access the Vacant Lot?
Rural homes are lovely, and many people cherish the privacy they provide. However, some of these plots of land don’t have public road access. That implies that you would theoretically need to trespass on a neighbor’s property or a private access road to reach your property. However, you shouldn’t write the property off just because it’s landlocked.
Ask the seller to provide the coordinates and the address of the property. Then, you can visit the property physically or use a GPS or Google Earth and the county’s GIS maps to confirm that the property you’re buying is what you expected.
Is the Land Located in a Wetland Area?
Wetland areas have marshes and swamps because they are permanently or seasonally inundated with water. As a result, these areas aren’t the best for construction or any other activity that needs a firm foundation. Most wetlands are also protected by authorities, so you can’t do anything to change the environment there. However, if the lot complies with the zoning and property use restrictions, you may be able to camp, boat, canoe, kayak, fish, and hunt there. Other non-intrusive pastimes include taking pictures and observing wildlife and birds.
Who Lives In the Area?
Whether you like it or not, what your neighbors do influences the value of your property. So, learn who lives around your lot in the neighborhood and whether the property you intend to buy is appealing to other possible purchasers if you had to sell it again in a few years. This is important, mainly if the vacant lot is located in suburban and semi-urban settings.
To ensure a smooth transaction and the ability to buy land safely and without regret, be sure to ask these questions before making a purchase. They will provide you with a better understanding of the property you are about to buy. Also, they can prevent you from making costly mistakes, saving you a lot of money in the process.
If you’re wondering how to buy land from a reputable seller, check Discount Lots. We have a vast selection of land at affordable purchase prices. Plus, we’ll assist you in outright land buys and have a forefront rent-to-own program.
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