Buying land can be a great way to invest in your financial future, especially if you’re building a custom home or development. But buying a vacant tract of land or acreage for development can have a few pitfalls if you don’t know what to watch out for.
Why Buy Vacant Land?
Sometimes the search for your dream home can take you down a lot of dead ends. Whether you can’t find a home with what you need, your ideal home is in the wrong location, or you just can’t seem to find a piece of property that speaks to you, enough disappointing showings can ultimately lead you to consider buying land and building your dream home yourself. Likewise, if you’re a real estate investor or interested in investing in a development, buying land can sometimes be a better option than purchasing a property with existing structures. With vacant land, you have a blank slate, ready to be crafted and customized to your specifications. However, not all pieces of land are created equal, and sometimes one wrong step can spell trouble.
What to Avoid When Buying Land
Before you dive into a major land purchase, try to avoid the following scenarios:
Talking to the Neighbors
Not everyone will be pleased with your plans to purchase and/or develop a tract of land–especially the people who live nearby. If you start mingling too much with the neighbors and tell them your plans, this could lead to organized opposition. The last thing you want is a neighborhood dispute before you’ve even broken ground.
Presuming the Property Can Be Rezoned
Don’t make the presumption that a piece of land can be rezoned to suit your plans. The local government will have very specific zones, codes, and ordinances that you will most likely have to follow. You may be able to get an exception to the rule, but it won’t be easy, or fast.
Neglecting the Survey Process
Identifying boundaries and property lines is a must. Always plan to have your property surveyed, especially if the land has been vacant for a long time. Recorded surveys as well as soil and geology reports may be outdated. Neighbors may have encroached on the property, intentionally or not.
For a seasoned investor with years of land buying experience, this may not be such a big deal, but for the land buyer who’s new to the process, working without the aid of an experienced real estate broker, or other professional could be a struggle at best and disastrous at worst.
Don’t hesitate to partner with a licensed, experienced real estate broker who specializes in vacant land in your area, or the type of property you are searching for, such as a farm or hunting property. They can access resources and data that may be more difficult for you to find, plus they can help guide you through the process and act as a liaison between you and the seller.
Keep in mind, this is not a fully comprehensive list of things that could complicate your land purchase. It’s always a good idea to do your own research and cover all the angles before you decide to buy a large plot of land.
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