Tips for Buying Bare Land & Recreational Properties

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Tips for Buying Bare Land & Recreational Properties

Are you thinking about buying a piece of bare land in Western Montana? Maybe a recreational property or a future homesite? If so, you will want to do your research. Here a few things for you to consider before you buy:

1.) Property Boundaries - are the property boundaries clearly marked? If not, you may want to require that they be marked by the seller during your due diligence period so you are clear on where they are.

2.) Survey - is there a formal survey for the property? Believe it or not, there are still many properties in Montana that do not have a formal survey and that use a "Metes and Bounds" approach. It is important to know what you are getting.

3.) Easements or Right of Ways - determine if there are any easements on the property. This should be available through the initial title report for the property.

4.) Water & Mineral Rights - do all of the water and mineral rights transfer with the property? If there is a creek running through the land, are you able to use that water.

5.) Access - how is the access to the property? Is the property accessible all year? Are the roads maintained? If so, who maintains them. Also, is the access road a County Road or a Forest Service Road? If the road is a forest service road, there may be a concern from your lender.

6.) Power - how close is power to the property? The cost to bring power to a property can be prohibitive in many areas. There are still a lot of mountain properties that are "off the grid" so don't assume that power is available.

 7.) Wells - how deep are wells in the area? Are there existing wells on the property? Many loans require that the well has at least 5 gallons per minute. In our area, it costs approximately $34 per square foot to dig a well and approximately $2,500 for the pump and installation. When you could be talking about 100's of feet for a well, this can get expensive. For more information about Wells, read our blog post about 10 Things to Look For When Buying a Property with a Private Well.

8.) Septic System - has the land been approved for a septic system? What types of systems are required for the area? Systems in our area run between approx. $3,200 and $4,500 and the cost varies by the type of system that is required.

9.) Covenants - Not all properties have covenants but a fair number of even rural properties have covenants now. Make sure you read the details as to what is allowed and what is not to ensure that you can use the property as you intend at the time of purchase.

10.) Flood Plain - Is the property in a flood plain, even a 100-year flood plain? Many riverfront properties are categorized as being in a flood plain, even if they are on a mountain. Find out for sure if your property is categorized this way. Properties on a flood plain may have a higher insurance premium and may have difficulty getting septic approval.


Comments (2)

Rene Fabre
ARFCO Media - Renton, WA
Practicing Philosophical Eclectic of the Arts

Great points... I think many forget, especially in rural areas, that legal descriptions are not always just simple lot 2, block 3, Missoula Valley div. 1 as recorded in Ye Olde Book of Plats... 

When I started out in title I learned how to read (and run out) metes and bounds legal descriptions... A number of times I worked on projects with really old descriptions like: beginning at a point 686 feet south and 200 feet east of the NE corner of the the SW quarter of section 18... etc. Especially one where a Captain Johnson got a land grant from President Jefferson... It used rods, chains, a big rock, and a large tree to a line in the middle thread of a creek and an old indian trail that meandered across the north of the property granting access for neighbors to walk down to the Puget Sound waterfront.

Often we'd be asked, "Why do we need a survey to qualify for title insurance?" 

Jan 23, 2010 03:00 AM
Stacie Wells
Grovetown, GA

10 VERY POWERFUL reasons why everyone should use your services and not go it alone. It's amazing how different real estate sales are from area to area. You guys rock! ;)

Jan 23, 2010 07:53 AM