Top 9 Things to Consider before Buying a Plot of Land

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If done right, purchasing a plot of land can be the smartest investment you’ll ever make. There are numerous benefits to building a property from scratch instead of buying an existing one. Think about it as a blank canvas — you can get creative and construct a building that caters to your unique needs and goals.

Whether you’re looking for the ideal plot to build your dream home or you plan to develop it for commercial purposes and resell it later, there are certain precautions you need to take before you close the deal. Purchasing vacant land is a capital investment. However, without in-depth research, you might be signing up for negative surprises along the way. 

How to Buy a Plot of Land? 

The first step before starting to look for vacant land is to determine the intended use of the land. Decide whether you need residential, recreational, commercial, or other types of land as this will give you a foundation upon which you’ll set your search.  

It is crucial to confirm that the land’s surroundings align with your goals. Consider whether you want to be in a more rural area with greater privacy or be closer to the city center. Determine if the location should be close to vital areas inside the town. These can be schools, businesses, attractions, and more, and whether you want it to be close to freeway access or close to the shore. Last but not least, establish the minimum size lot you will need to build your home. Think about what’s essential for you before you start looking for options. 

After you’ve come up with these guidelines, you can start searching for available lots online. Another choice is to collaborate with a real estate agent that specializes in land sales. Both options are great for finding the best locations according to your specific needs. You could gain access to listings that haven’t hit the market yet. Once you narrow down the list of potential land lots, follow these steps.  

Check the Zoning  

Every city has zoning restrictions. Zoning regulates all aspects of the building, including its size and shape, additional structures such as garages. So prior to purchasing land, you need to be sure that you can build what you want there. When researching the land’s zoning, pay attention to the long-term use and planned construction for that area, as these can affect your ability to build the property you want. 

Consider Other Building Restrictions

Building restrictions can go beyond zoning. For example, if the land is part of an already developed community or a subdivision, a homeowners association will probably govern the area. The HOA can set rules for everything from the property’s paint to the looks of the front door. Additionally, subdivisions might have private agreements between the landowner and buyer. These agreements called deed restrictions might prevent you from removing trees, building fences, and more. So make sure to get copies of the HOA’s rules and regulations and deed restrictions before making the purchase.  

Don’t Forget About Potential Environmental Issues

Not researching potential environmental issues is one of the top mistakes to avoid when buying land. For example, contaminated soil or water, or chemical storage tanks can be issues that will negatively impact your ability to build the desired property. Consider getting a soil engineer to examine the land’s quality and ensure the land is stable and good to build on. Also, gather information on whether there’s anything you should do to the land before building on it.  

Ensure There’s Access to Utilities

Before you invest in a plot of land, you should confirm that there’s access to utilities. This includes sewer, electricity, running water, gas, cable, telephone, and Internet. Verify that the utility access won’t interfere with the property’s placement. However, if the land doesn’t come with utilities, confirm that you can get them to the land, keeping in mind that it might become a significant expense.  

Assess Setback Requirements

Property setback requirements are governed by the state, local, and federal laws. Depending on the location, there might be a code that will require your property to be built a certain distance from the neighboring property lines. These setback requirements refer to the main structure but also to any other permanent structures such as the deck or garage. Depending on the land’s lot, this could affect the size of the final property. 

Do a Feasibility Study

A feasibility study might be costly but conducting one might save you a lot of trouble and money later. Such a study can help you understand whether your planned project is doable and practicable. It will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your building plan, informing you about all important aspects of the parcel. This includes land evaluation, cost analysis, zoning information, and more.  

Find Out If There Are Liens  

Liens aren’t a decisive factor when buying lots but you should be aware of them in order to avoid potential troubles along the road. A lien is a legal notice attached to the property’s title due to unpaid debt. You should ensure any such debt is resolved prior to completing the purchase. You can easily check whether there’s a lien on the property you’re eyeing by searching on the country’s recorder website. 

Keep an Eye Out for Easements

An easement gives a third party the right to access your property without asking for permission. Some easements might benefit you as a landowner but others might negatively impact the ability to do some things on the land. Make sure to do thorough research so that you’re aware of any easements beforehand in order to protect your investment. 

Verify the Documents

Doing your due diligence with paperwork might seem daunting but it can save you a lot of trouble later. First, ensure you get a clear title deed from the landowner. Check if they are the sole owner of that piece of land and ask to see the original deed. To inspect whether it is legitimate, search on the registration website of the state government. Additionally, make sure you also verify the legitimacy of other important documents. Such can be encumbrance certificates, property tax receipts, release certificates, and local approvals. 

Final Thoughts

Buying land can be a great and hassle-free investment if you carefully follow the above-mentioned steps. It’s crucial to conduct proper research so that your investment doesn’t become a burden. If you need additional help in finding the land you desire, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Discount Lots team. We can match you with the ideal lots for your needs!

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