How to Assess Land Before Purchasing - Northern Title Blog
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How to Assess Land Before Purchasing

How to Assess Land Before Purchasing

Purchasing land can be a real dream come true for many owners and builders. But how do you know what property is best for you and your needs? Nobody wants to purchase land that isn’t livable, or worse– land that’s unable to be developed due to zoning or other hazardous issues.

Purchasing property doesn’t have to be a nightmare. When following these guidelines to assess land, you’re guaranteed to find the land you’ve been dreaming about:

1. Survey the Area:

Inspect the land in person and get a survey of the land. Doing this can help you envision what trees may need to be cleared, what areas need excavating, how durable the plot is, etc.

Check to see if utilities are hooked up. Some properties aren’t developed yet, or have an old, outdated home on its premises that requires updating like electricity, gas, and plumbing.

In addition, survey the surrounding areas and look for concerns like landfills, noisy highways, or industrial uses. You can even use maps and aerial surveys (FEMA or Google) to investigate potential concerns.

Having a clear vision of what the property entails upfront will help you envision potential costs down the road.

2. Investigate Regulations

It’s important to check the zoning, grade, and soil quality, to determine if any buildings can be constructed on the property. Although there may be a building already on the land, the zoning restrictions and soil quality could have changed over the time period. But you can’t exactly collect that information from surveying the property on foot.

A trip to City Hall can help you gather a lot of important, and necessary information for zoning. They can also advise you of any stipulations on how much square footage of a building structure is allowed on the land, provide you with information regarding the distance between the house and the road, or provide you with tax information and records about flood-zone boundaries. They will also provide you with information about water and sewer codes, and advise you of any rules regarding building size, style, and materials (if purchasing property in a landmarked district.)

3. Talk with Neighbors

If you’re unfamiliar with the area, it may be beneficial to speak with local people and future neighbors. Get a good idea of how the community is, how the government is run, if there are certain HOA restrictions, or even if you may need specific permits or variances.

Other factors to consider may include: shopping amenities, the school system, transportation availability, nearby medical care, parks, sports and recreation, crime rates, weather, water tables, etc.

4. Plan a Realistic Budget

People often underestimate the costs necessary for buying property. Nobody wants surprise expenses, so it’s necessary to plan accordingly.

If the property you want to purchase has an existing building on it that you plan to demolish, plan to spend some extra money. Demolishing a house, on average, costs about $18,000. This doesn’t include expenses for building a new structure in its place.

In many instances, hiring a professional team may seem expensive, but prove beneficial as it can alleviate the headaches of overseeing several subcontractors.

Aside from demolition, other potential expenses may also include sewer hookups, additional permits, plumbing, running lines, repairing things that were once sound, regulating water resources, removing hazardous waste, possible title issues, or preserving wildlife if it’s considered an “endangered.”

The Final Assessment

Assessing property is a valuable way to ensure you have no hidden surprises on your dream home/ land. When buying land, the last thing you want to discover is that the property has a complication you were unaware of. At Northern Title, we seek to protect buyers from these situations by performing title examinations on real estate records and issuing title insurance policies, in addition to performing escrow closing work. Let us help you get the property you’ve been dreaming about. Contact us at one of our offices today!