Steps to Take When Purchasing Vacant Land

Real Estate

Purchasing vacant land is completely different than purchasing a home. Buyers will often walk a lot and if it meets their criteria as far as level, wooded, position on the street, etc. then they are ready to purchase. When a buyer is considering a vacant land purchase though, they should do their due diligence to make sure there are no hidden defects or obstacles that could affect the future value, the possibility of building, the cost to build, future liabilities, etc.

1.) Soil Evaluation: Evaluate soil suitability, grading, drainage and other soil matters.
2.) Zoning and Land Use Regulations: Check with the local zoning department to see what is permitted to be built on the land.
3.) Survey: Have property surveyed for lot size, boundaries, easements and encroachments.
4.) Water Supply Inspections: Is it public or private water? What is the distance to hook up to the city water line and the cost? If well water is required, is it available on the property and what is the cost to put the system in?
5.) Sewer and Septic Inspections: If the property has sewers, how far is it to connect and the cost? If septic, what type of system is allowed? Has a qualified contractor conducted a Perc Test to see absorption rate of water to ensure a septic system will function properly?
6.) Utilities: What utilities are available and what are the costs to connect?
7.) Environmental Survey: Have an environmental survey conducted to ensure there are no pollutants in the soil.
8.) Neighboring Properties: Consult with local zoning for any disclosures of possible changes to neighboring properties that would affect the value of the lot. Inquire about any current or future hazards they know of such as high tension power lines, railroads, airports, etc. that may affect the value.
9.) Homeowner’s Association: Is there an HOA? If so, review their documentation prior to purchasing so that you are aware of building requirements, restrictions and fees.
10.) Split Potential: Consult with local zoning to see if there is an option to split the lot should this be an option of yours now or in the future. This may affect the placement of the home and any outbuildings.
11.) Permit Records and Code Compliance: Consult with the local building department to see what permits are needed to build and any other factors that could affect the building process.
12.) Appraisal: Have the property appraised to ensure value of the vacant land.

Taking these steps when purchasing vacant land is key. These contingencies can be written into the contract to tie up the property while doing your due diligence. It is important to make sure you know what you are buying and of course working with a real estate agent who is knowledgeable with vacant land sales is key!