Going through the purchasing process of a piece of land is most of the times more vexing than buying a house. The reason is that, while the house it’s literally a “what you see is what you get” type of deal, the land is different. The most important things are those which you cannot see, such as the soil underneath the surface, the water conditions, the effects seasons will have on it, zoning ordinances, murky titles or even deed restrictions. All these can greatly impact your successful use of the land. Therefore, here is a list of 7 tips and pieces of advice which will serve you well when deciding to buy land.
Things to Consider When You Buy Land
1. Is the land buildable?
If your goal is to build a house or any other building after you purchase the land, then the very first question you need to ask the seller is if the land is buildable or not. Keep in mind that it is not illegal to sell a piece of land unsuited for building. Therefore, once you signed the deeds, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. The laws on what can or cannot be built on a certain piece of land vary greatly depending on the area it’s located in. Remember you need to ask detailed questions. For example, it might so happen that your envisioned land is suitable to build a two-bedroom house, while you want a four bedroom one. Ask your seller specifically about that.
2. Determine if you can handle the septic systems
In urban areas, the water supply is handled by the responsible authorities, so it just comes to the tap in your house. In rural and demi-rural areas, however, you might have to deal with the water supply yourself, literally in your backyard. This is why, if you ever have problems with septic systems, they can lead to serious health hazards as well as huge repair bills. Make sure the land you want to buy has an easy accessible and risk-free water supply, which you can easily harness yourself.
3. Assess the sites preparation beforehand
If you are an unexperienced builder, chances are any piece of land could look gorgeous to you. But that doesn’t mean it’s free of any problems. The best way to avoid those problems is by taking an experienced builder on a site visit. He or she will be able to correctly determine and tell you if there are any issues such as: ledge presence, soil type, high water tables or poor drainage.
4. Make sure you have road access
When buying land to build on it’s probably impossible to stress enough how important road access really is. Mainly because people take it for granted and never stop to think about it twice. Roads are roads, right? Wrong. The authorities don’t normally build roads in areas with bare pieces of land. Because there’s no one there to use them.
If there is a road there all the same, it was built by a private person. This means it’s private property, because it’s, probably, on their land. Never sign any deed if it doesn’t clearly state permanent, legal and transferable access to your piece of land. Don’t make your purchase based on the goodwill of the neighbor who owns the road. If you’ve signed the papers and you two have a fallout, there’s not much left for you to do.
5. Find out all you can about easements
Easements are the rights and privileges a person has over someone else’s land. You first need to find out what particular easements you have over other people’s lands. For example, should you not be located on a county road, you will definitely want to know if your easements are wide enough to match county specifications and allow you to put in a road.
The same goes for power and telephone lines. If your easements don’t cover the lines, you will not be able to put them in over lands that belong to others. Another tip here is to think of your potential buyers. Maybe these things are not important to you, because you don’t need them. But should you ever wish to sell the lot, they will increase your property’s value and attract much more buyers.
6. Are all the utilities available?
Another important aspect to consider before signing the buying papers is utility availability. If you’re buying land in a remote area, the power, cable and internet companies have the legal right to refuse to plug you in. It doesn’t matter if you have the money or not. They might consider that it’s simply not worth it to spend so much money on wiring you to the network. And even if they do agree to do it for you, given the fact that it’s only you, it will cost a stupendous amount of money. Therefore, always check to see if all the utilities are available before you buy.
7. Where do you stand on mineral rights?
All pieces of land have some type of mineral in them. A good tip is to learn where you stand on the rights to these minerals. And, after you found out, the advice would be not to purchase the land if you don’t have the rights. It doesn’t really matter what your realtor is telling you. Even if important minerals haven’t been discovered yet on your land, they might be one day and that will lead to disastrous consequences for you.
Since you don’t have the rights, they will tear down your house and everything around it because the owners of the minerals have the legal high ground. Building on the idea that no important minerals have been discovered on your land, keep in mind that you might house petty minerals that could, one day, be deemed important and worthy of digging for. And you’re back to square one.
It’s not easy to decide how to buy land to build on. As you might have noticed, there are many little things one wouldn’t normally think about that could ruin your entire purchase. This is why the best advice of all is to seek professional help. They will be able to point out all these details and correctly assess the land. Make it someone trustworthy and not someone that is trying to sell you land on the moon.