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Must Read Land Buying Tips

Land Buying Tips for a Future Home

When searching for the right land to build your home it is important to know what you want before you even start looking. Then, when you find it – act fast, or you may miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

1.    Make a List

As simple as this sounds, it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run if you just write down what you need and want. Do you want a view of the water? Do you want to build in a subdivision or in the country?  How much land do you want and most important, how much can you afford? It is also important to keep in mind the style of house you want to build when looking for property. The size and style of house needs to be taken in consideration because later you may want to put on an addition, add a swimming pool or plant a garden and you will need that room to grow.

2.    How to find Land

Real Estate Sites: Keep your eye out for new listings on the local real estate websites. Most listings are listed by price so look at all the sites in your budget so you can get a general idea what the going price of land is in the area you are looking to build. Also, you can call the real estate agent and ask them more about the history of the land and find out if there is any future construction planned in the area.

Online Sellers: A lot of times a good piece of land is listed by an individual and not through an agency. A lot of times the pricing is better too since you are eliminating the “middle man.” When purchasing anything online, be sure you are dealing with a reputable person or agency. One word of advice, once you find a listing that peaks you interest, jump on it. A good piece of property sells fast, and you don’t want to lose an opportunity because you waited too long.

Drive Around: Check out the area you want to live around for any For Sale signs. It’s also smart to see what other houses, businesses and attractions are in the area to be sure it is what you want to have as your neighbors.

3.    Questions to Ask Before You Buy

Because Future Homes is a fully-licensed general contractor – we can help you develop the land you choose for your new home. Our experienced Project Coordinators work with a team soil scientists, surveyors and landscape companies to assist with all your land prep needs. We also help with the proper processing of permits and paperwork to keep your construction process on track and moving forward.

Here are a few important questions you will want to ask the land owner prior to purchasing the property.

Is the land under any conservation easements?
Conservation easements can prevent land owners from planting, clearing or even hunting on certain areas of the land to protect the natural resources.

What are the taxes on the property?
Different states and counties have different rules about what types of land qualifies for a tax break program. Check with your local tax office to learn about the tax breaks your land may qualify for.

What is the property zoning?
Municipal or local government laws dictate how real property can and cannot be used in certain areas. Zoning laws limit commercial use of land in order to prevent oil, manufacturing or other types of businesses from building in residential neighborhoods.

Has the property been surveyed?
Most mortgage companies require a property survey to make sure the property is worth the amount of money they’re providing in the loan. However, the property survey is not always legally required. Some mortgage companies will be satisfied with title insurance so check with your insurance company to see what they require. You can call one of our knowledgeable project coordinators at Future Homes to help you with this step. We are a full-service company that provides help with each step of your building process.

What environmental hazards should you be aware of?
These can range from toxic runoff in the water, leaking underground pipes contaminating the soil, and improperly stored chemicals from previous owners. The seller is not obligated under law to volunteer any information about environmental issues UNLESS you ask.

Electricity and utility accesses?
It’s common for properties to have “dead zones” with no electricity or Wi-Fi because the owner did not ask before purchasing. Just because the property has access to a powerline does not mean you can use it, so make sure you are aware of where your power is going to be connected.

Has it had a Percolation test?
The soil percolation rate lets you know if the land can absorb water from a septic system. If the land has not been tested, it is important to hire a soil scientist to study the topography, types of soil, and the soil’s ability to absorb the water. Future Homes can help you with this important step since we are a full-service company.

Does it have existing septic or do you need to apply a permit to put in a new one?
In areas without municipal sewage systems, each home must treat its sewage on its own land using an “on-site sewage disposal system,” more commonly called a septic system.  A typical system consists of a waste pipe from the house, a large concrete, fiberglass, or plastic septic tank, and a leach field. The most common type of leach field consists of a series of perforated distribution pipes, each set in a gravel-filled absorption trenches

How do you access the property?
There are two main ways to access a property. A frontage road is a local road that provides access to private properties. These add to the value of a property. A deeded access is two-party system where the land owner (who does not have reasonable access to his property) and a nearby neighbor (who does have a means of access) reach an agreement about right of way. If your property is accessed by a deeded access, you need to find out as soon as possible what the agreement is and if necessary, talk with your neighbor to see if anything about the deeded access has changed.

How is the water drainage on the property?
Most homeowners do not fully understand proper drainage. The key to good drainage is simple: water flows downhill. When it collects in a large area or flows a great distance, it has the potential to create significant problems.

Soggy, poorly graded ground is certain doom for lawns, shrubs and plants. Poorly drained runoff from roofs can enter your basement, or flow inside your home through foundational cracks or leaks, where it can warp floorboards and turn finished rooms into mildew messes. During a heavy rain, visit the site and observe how the water flows. You’ll then be able to discuss any drainage concerns with the builder and get his plan for dealing with potential problems.

What other properties are nearby?
It’s a good idea to scope out the properties around the land you are looking to purchase. Are they in the process of development? Have there been any environmental or hazards with your neighbors? How is the area zoned? Some areas allow home businesses so it might pay to see if any neighbors have a business that will bring in extra traffic


4.    Final Tips on Buying Land

Financing:  Unless you are paying cash, you will want to be pre-approved, that way if the perfect piece of property comes up, you will be ready. Great deals go super-fast sometimes It’s also helpful to have a deposit to put down on the land as well – the more the better.

Water System: Where will your drinking water come from? Will you connect to city water or will you have to drill a well? Water development can cost you a significant amount so be sure to include it into your budget.

Stick to Your Budget: Remember, the more you spend on your land, the less you have for building your dream home. If you are going to have to do a lot of costly work on the land, it might be better to see if there are other options.

Once you have the land you want, Futures Homes can continue to help you design a beautiful, custom-built home on your perfect property.

Happy Land Hunting!