First Time Land Buyer?: The Top Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land

When buying land, there are some mistakes that you definitely want to avoid. Read on to learn about the top mistakes when buying land.

first time land buying

Wheat fields. Sunny, cloudless skies. Warm breezes.

These are why owning rural property appeals to you, and it's a great dream, if you can escape the risks of the buying process.

It's true buying acreage can be better than buying a vacation home, and you can make those dreams reality.

Avoid possible pitfalls of buying land and find your dream acreage by using our ultimate guide for what to consider when looking at property.

Check Zoning Requirements

If you're hoping to buy land for a good price and put a tiny house on it to save money, you may need to check into zoning and ordinances. Be sure to check the requirements before you make the decision to buy because some areas aren't zoned for houses below a certain square footage. You can call the county where the land's located to find out who to talk to about zoning.

When you're planning to use the site for business, make sure the property's zoned for that industry. Some municipalities keep hotel-type businesses a required distance from residential areas, so you have to make sure all your plans will work with the legal restrictions of the area.

Other ordinances and mandates can include strange rules you're not familiar with, like having to build a seawall if you are close to the water, or to build far enough back from the property's edge.

Sometimes you're lucky enough to get properties rezoned, but a lot of times that depends on the city council. Assume you'll have to work hard to get that outcome, in particular, if you have big business plans for that recreational ranch or other business.

Find Out If You Have Legal Access

Check to make sure that legal access to the property comes with the title deed. Sometimes pieces of land that are listed for sale come without the legal right to access it. That can cause problems with the people who own the land surrounding it.

Even if it does come with legal access, it may not mean there is already a road. You'd have to build one.

With the need to build a road might come the need to add infrastructure. If you have to pay to have utilities like gas, sewer, water, and other utilities run to any buildings you plan to install, it gets expensive.

Know the facts before you buy so that you can have a proper budget for installing these upgrades.

Consider the Financing

Speaking of budget, take into account your available cash and your chances of getting a loan. Mortgages for existing homes are different than financing for property or build loans, and some banks will only approve you for 40% of the final cost. This isn't the same as a home mortgage where you can get 80% or more covered.

You may have to pay cash for the property, followed by a construction loan for the structure. Talk to a loan specialist before you get excited about the properties you see. Make sure you know what you can afford before you fall in love with the land.

You also need to know what the land's actual value is before you can decide if the asking price is fair. Some of the best states for farming and acreage still have buyers who list what they want to get for the property, not what its true worth is.

You can find out what a home's value is by checking out other similar properties in the area and comparing prices. Make sure to look at features, like access to water, existing outbuilding, and other aspects of a property that can affect the value.

Visit the Property More Than Once

You'll only be sure about the property after you check the place out at different times of day. It's different than buying a house where you can check things like whether every light switch works or how strong the water pressure is.

With property, you can still investigate the land. Learn about invasive plant species that are native to the area and search for it on the land, most of all in the area where you are considering building. Check for possible trespassers or places where you'd consider installing fences.

Ask your realtor to take you out there at different times of day so that you can listen for noise from nearby highways or railroad tracks at commuting times. You'll see if people use the area for dumping or drug deals that you'll have to deal with after you buy the land.

Do Your Research

Make sure you do a thorough job researching the property, without skipping the environmental testing and surveying. 

Google the address to see if it's been in the news, and what for. You can also visit a nearby town and ask the locals at the five-and-dime or the diner about the land.

Be careful to keep most of your plans to yourself if you're going to build or change zoning. If some residents aren't happy about your ideas, they can make the task even harder.

Why is the owner letting go of the property? People may be hesitant to tell you too much. If you sense they're not being honest, try to get your realtor to help you find out the real reason.

Find a great realtor you can trust to help you during the process. Realtors want to make money, too, so find someone who has your best interests in mind is a key player.

Buying Your Dream Property

You are ready to start searching for your dream property. Buying land can be a challenge, but with these tips, you're up for it.

Make sure you check the zoning and legal access, consider the financing, visit the property more than once, and do your research.

To search for rural properties and find your dream acreage today, visit RuralOnly's property section.