Buy Land

11 Things to Know Before Buying Land

Are you thinking about purchasing land? These eleven items should be on your due diligence checklist before submitting a contract to buy vacant or rural land.

1. Define Your Goals

Depending on what your goals are for a piece of land, it'll dictate what should be on your buying checklist. Whether the vacant land is near rural communities or urban areas, there may be different restrictions or infrastructure the land could utilize. 

For instance, in most rural communities, you'll need to drill a well and install a septic tank, while urban areas may have municipal water and sewer to tie into. The cost of a well can significantly vary depending on the water table level. It'd be wise to call a reputable well drilling company to get a ballpark idea of the possible cost. 

2. Understand Financing Options

When purchasing land, there are many viable options to buy a property. Connecting with a land-friendly lender or understanding other financing options is crucial for buying land.

3. Connect with a Vacant Land Real Estate Professional 

Each state and rural area has its nuances. A buyer's agent can be an excellent resource in buying land. Typically, a buyer's agent will provide a service to you at no cost since the seller pays the commission when it's listed on the MLS (multiple listing service). 

The MLS feeds to popular land websites where you can find land for sale, like our platform or, Zillow, and many more.

By working with a buyer's agent familiar with land buying, you'll have someone in your corner to help you work through this checklist and ensure you find a parcel that fits your goals. 

4. What Can You Do With the Land? 

Likely, the most important thing to consider is if the vacant land will allow you to do what you intend. It's essential to understand the zoning and ordinances that are in place for the parcel.

If it still needs to be zoned to what would achieve your goals, consider calling the county zoning and understand the process and likelihood of petitioning for it to be rezoned or getting a variance for the property. Also, ensure no recorded easements could hinder your goals, such as a conservation easement. 

5. Percolation Test for Land

A percolation test, also known as a perc test, assesses the water drainage characteristics of various soils. This assessment holds significance in multiple applications, including designing a leach field for a septic system, architectural planning, and evaluating the land for agricultural purposes.

6. What Utilities are Available? 

If you plan to build on the property, it's essential to understand the possible cost of having electricity run to the property. If power is nearby, it may not be an expensive undertaking, but if electricity would need to be installed for hundreds or thousands of feet, it could be a costly endeavor. 

As mentioned previously, it's important to consider if the land could support a well, septic or if it could be tied into existing municipal utilities. 

7. Determine Boundaries 

As a starting point, using an online tool like Acres will allow you to get an idea of the approximate boundaries from your desktop or mobile device. If there are any questions or uncertainties, it's advisable to get a survey and have the corners of the property staked with iron rods by a licensed surveyor. The survey can be a negotiated cost for the seller or buyer. Typically, it's ordered after a purchase agreement has been executed. 

8. Are There Any Risk Hazards to the Property? 

Understanding any hazard risks to raw land will significantly impact the value and what you could do with a property. Confirm the property is out of the FEMA floodplain and has no EPA hazard risks. A professional opinion or a land inspection can expedite this due diligence phase. 

9. What Rights Will be Conveyed With the Land? 

Depending on the part of the country, mineral rights could be valuable and ultimately impact the property's value. 

10. Understand Property Limitations 

Neighborhood covenants are the house rules for your community. These guidelines cover various aspects, including the style and design of your home, the distance it should maintain from the property line (setbacks), parking arrangements, and more.

11. What are the Costs for Capital Improvements? 

If the property needs a road installed or improved access, it's crucial to understand the cost and the process to establish a 'cut-out' or entry lane.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the crucial questions every land buyer should have on their checklist for buying land. Whether you're new to real estate investment or purchasing rural land for the first time, having clear answers to these questions improves the chances of your investment being a success. You're ready to proceed with confidence once you have answers to all these questions.

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