Approximately 89% of buyers hire a real estate agent to help them navigate the complexities of purchasing a home. What if you want to buy a lot instead and build a new construction? If there’s no house on the property, is it quite necessary to hire an agent?
At first glance, it might seem that the process is simpler. There is no home inspection, no haggling over repairs, and no need to wait for anyone to move out to close.
While buying a plot of vacant land may seem less intense, is it actually easier?
There may be much more to buying a lot than first meets the eye. Let’s take a look and discover if you feel confident enough to purchase land on your own or if you need the expertise of a realtor.
Buying vacant land is similar to buying a fully constructed home. Aside from the fact that there is much more work involved if you intend to live there, there are considerations that might not even occur to you — unless you have experience buying vacant land.
For example, utilities.
A constructed house will have its water, sewer connection or septic system, electricity, phone, and possibly even Internet and cable TV hookups already available. However, a vacant plot may have some or all of these connections available — or none.
Thus, you’ll need to find out if your prospective property offers community or city water and sewer connections. If these aren’t available, it’s wise to make your offer contingent on the ability to install a sewer system large enough to accommodate the size of the house you wish to build.
Additionally, don’t forget to find out about water rights, as these are not always automatically conveyed with the land and you will not be able to excavate a well without them. Furthermore, unless you’re planning to install a solar power system and live off the grid out in the middle of nowhere, check that you can get connected to electricity as well.
Land Use Restrictions
You may be purchasing land because you wish to avoid restrictive HOAs so the idea of land use restrictions might not appeal to you. However, even rural land often has a few basic restrictions but they are usually a positive thing. Restrictions are typically applied to keep the area looking nice, which will help keep your property value up, so it’s a win for you too.
For example, commercial property, shooting ranges, junkyards or pig farms may be prohibited in the area. Unless you’re wanting to open up one of these businesses yourself, you’ll probably appreciate not having them in the neighborhood.
Another typical restriction limits the type of constructions you can build. Surprisingly, purchasing land doesn’t mean you can build whatever you please on it, certain types of structures (manufactured homes for example) may be prohibited.
Moreover, there may be a maximum home size, particularly if the lot is located in a planned development. There also may be restrictions on building other structures such as barns or other outbuildings on the property.
Access is also an important consideration, particularly when you buy lots of land in a rural area. Not every plot of land is accessible by public roads. If that’s the case, you need to determine if there is a road maintenance agreement in place. This document states that the property owners in the vicinity are responsible for the road’s upkeep and maintenance.
Moreover, you need to have a legal, deeded right-of-way when there is no public road access. This will ensure that you (and future property owners) will always have access to the property via an easement.
Additionally, it’s possible that the land you’re purchasing may have easements running through it. This means that other entities may have access to and the right to use a portion of your land. This isn’t always a negative thing, simply take a moment to read the fine print to ensure this is something you are willing to commit to.
An often overlooked consideration involves buried oil or gas tanks, or other environmental hazards on the property. This type of problem might not be enough to keep you from buying the property, but it’s definitely an issue you want to know about upfront. Discovering this after the purchase will be unpleasant, especially if you’re faced with a several thousand dollar cleanup bill!
Another consideration is ordering a boundary survey to ensure that the property lines are properly marked down. Surveys aren’t typically required, but they are always an excellent idea. The price of a boundary survey can vary but is about $500 on average. For many people, the peace of mind is well worth the $500.
How a Realtor Can Help
Finally, most people know buying a house is hard work. Consequently, they feel unsure about going into the process alone which is why they enlist the help of an experienced real estate agent.
You may have assumed that buying land was simpler than buying an already-built home, but as you can see, it is quite the opposite. Furthermore, there are many details you must sort out to ensure that you’ll be able to construct the size and type of home that you want to build.
The last thing you want to do is make the costly mistake of buying a piece of land that you can’t use because the location is too close to a wetland — or any other of a myriad of reasons why you can’t build.
A professional will know the correct questions to ask to make sure that you’ll be able to use the land the way you want to. Furthermore, even though you might not negotiate over who gets to replace the furnace, there are still plenty of points of negotiation. An experienced real estate agent will make sure that you come out of the bargaining phase with a fair deal.
So How Does One Buy a Lot?
Hire an experienced realtor to guide you through the purchasing process. It’s that simple.
Okay well, not quite that simple, you’ll have a few other major decisions to make when you buy a lot. But having a professional in your corner will make buying a plot of land far easier and more hassle-free.
Looking for the perfect team in the Philadelphia area? Contact us today! We’re happy to put our considerable experience to work for you!