To own your own piece of land is important because it is where your ‘family roots’ take shape and grow. Whether you are looking for a postage-stamp size property or 100 acres, you need to do your homework. When you buy a home, you get a home inspector to look at the roof, wiring, plumbing and heating. Buying land is a little different, but there are a few things to take into consideration when purchasing land. Although there may not be a house on the property, there are things you need to check out thoroughly.
A few things to take into consideration when purchasing land – location
As with any real estate, location is number one. If you want to live in the city, suburbs or a rural area, there are things to look for. Remember, if you are buying land where you plan to build a home, do you mind that the railroad tracks are so close that you may think the train in running through your house? Is the property on the side of a mountain and only goats can climb to the top? Is it in a flood zone? Twenty acres with a few of the mountains, but in a flood zone isn’t a good choice.
A few things to take into consideration when purchasing land – Contingencies
You need to cover your bases. Whether you are buying land to build your own home or in the hopes of selling it in the future, you don’t want to be stuck with a piece of property you can’t use or sell. Anything questionable needs to be included in the written offer.
There are several contingencies you should include in your offer, such as:
#1 – A positive perk test
If you are buying property that has water, sewer and electric available at the road, then you don’t have to worry about a perk test. A perk test is necessary in an area where you need to have a septic system for waste removal. If the land doesn’t ‘perk’ you cannot get a permit for a septic system. If you want to build a 3 bedroom home, then your offer should contain the proper contingency for that.
#2 – Financing
Just as purchasing a home, your offer should be contingent on your ability to get a loan for the land. If you do not put that in the offer and financial intuitions turn you down, you are in for a legal battle to get out of the contract.
#3 – Restrictions
Restrictions actually ‘restrict’ what you can do on the land. Many sub-divisions have heavy restrictions including the size of the home, if fencing is allowed or not, if separate garages are allowed and the type and quantity of animals allowed. In a rural area sub-division normally you are allowed one cow or horse per acre. Light restrictions may state that a double- wide trailer on a permanent foundation is ok. If you want to put up a single-wide, then you would not be able to. Many sub-divisions only allow ‘stick -built’ homes and have restrictions on modular homes. Make sure your offer is contingent on being able to have the type of home you want. Understand the restrictions and ask questions.
If you are buying a large tract of land with the intention of sub-dividing it into several lots, make sure you have the legal right to do that. Large tracts of land may allow subdividing the property into 5 acre tracts as the minimum size. On the other hand, the restrictions may state ‘no sub-dividing’.
Falling in love with property that has the perfect view or the perfect location is only the beginning of the process. Make sure to include the necessary contingencies in your offer. If it isn’t in writing, you could wind up in financial difficulty down the road. If the land won’t perk and you can’t build, and you won’t be able to use it or sell it.
We have been looking at property for a while now. After poor results in our county, I expanded the search and after a few rejects we hit the perfect land for us. The initial map test the Tennessee Soil Specialist used to determine if the land would perk came back as ‘inconclusive’. That meant he had to proceed to dig 4 holes which he filled with water and timed as to how fast or slow the water dissipated (perked). The perk test was completed yesterday and passed for a three bedroom home and now we can close on the property. We made sure that ‘perk’ test condition was in our contract. If it couldn’t pass the perk test, the contract was null and void.
If the seller will not agree to your contingencies, then it is time to move on and find something else. Your dream property is out there. Take it step-by-step and be sure to include contingencies in your offer. By keeping in mind a few things to take into consideration when purchasing land can save you time, aggravation and money in the future.
Abby Greenhill’s recent personal experience