Buying Land - Basic Considerations

Real Estate Agent with Real Estate Professionals GMAC

When you are thinking about purchasing land, especially if it has no improvements, there are five basic considerations or factors that you should research before making any commitments.  Each of these factors....or lack of....will greatly influence the desirability and value of the land.  Making sure that you have carefully considered and investigated each will save you a lot of headaches.

These basic considerations or factors include:


ZONING:  "What do you intend to do with the land"?  A simple but very important question!  Whether it is for building your dream home, multiple homes, a ranch, commercial building, subdividing or should make sure the local zoning laws will permit or allow you to do what you want to do.  A personal visit to the local governmental planning department will provide you all the information.

POWER:  "Is there electrical power to the property?"  Do not assume that if there is a power line adjacent to or crossing the property....that you can legally use or tie into it.  Check with the local electric provider as to the requirements and costs.  If the power is some distance away....they can provide you information as to the options and costs of bringing power to your property.  If public power is not feasible or sure to research the use of alternative sources.....such as solar, wind, generators, hydro and such.

WATER:  Naturally, having a source of drinking water on your property is nice!  Determine whether there is a nearby public or community water system that you can connect to OR whether you will have to find drinking water from another source such as a well, spring, creek, etc.  If it is a public water system.....research the costs of hooking into it.  If you believe a well is a choice, you want to know how feasible it is.  Drilling a well can be expensive and sometimes you may not hit you want to minimize the risk.  Check with the neighbors......ask them how good their wells are (depth, production rate and quality).  Another good source of information is to talk to a local well driller who has experience in the area.  They can generally tell you how good the wells are in the area; if there might be any problems and the cost of drilling.  If the source of water may be a spring or creek or any other surface type water....take a sample of the water and have it tested at a water lab.  In addition.....make sure you have a legal right to use the surface water!

ACCESS:  "Do you have a legal right to drive to the property?"  Some properties, unfortunately, are land-locked and the only way to access them is by helicopter.  Unless you have your own helicopter, this can be very inconvenient.  You want to be assured that there is legal ingress and egress to the property.  Although  often a road may not physically do want to make sure you have a legal easement on which to place a road.  Other times, a road may exist....and you will not have a  legal right to use it.  A visit to your local governmental planning department will provide this information

SEWAGE DISPOSAL:  Your research should determine whether you have a public sewer system available OR if you will need to put in your own system....such as a septic tank and leach field.  Again...if it is a public system....check with the local governmental agency to find out the costs of connecting to it.  If a septic system is in order, you want to make sure the soil is suitable for a system and the costs of installing one.  Again, a visit with neighbors may give you some information.  Check with a local septic contractor who has experience in the area.  Also, in some cases you may want to spend the money to have a soils engineer visit and research the site.  Naturally there are numerous things to check out when buying land in California.  However, having informative information on these five basic components will privide you a good basis on which to make a decision for purchasing land.

Having sold land for over 24 years, I have seen numerous problems associated with each of these basic components.  In further blogs, I will discuss each of these in depth.

Please visit my websites for information on land, ranches and special properties for sale.

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Comments (1)

Brian Belcher
RE/MAX Executive - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Realtor

This is a great post. Thanks for identifying some of the things people pass over before buying land.

Dec 20, 2008 12:23 AM