7 Best Questions When Buying Vacant Land

7 Most Important Questions to Ask When Buying Vacant Land

You may be considering where to invest your money and land seems like a good choice. It is also possible that the homes you are viewing just don’t fit your current home needs and/or wants. That’s why many people invest in land, so they can build exactly what they want and invest their money wisely!

Purchasing land is quite different from buying an existing home. Here are a few questions to ask before making this big purchase.

1. Does the vacant land have a clear title?

When buying real estate, it is important to check whether the title is clear. Liens and/or injunctions against the property can make a title “dirty.” These can include liens from entities like the IRS or construction companies, divorces, succession, or even mishandled paperwork. To determine whether the property has clear title, title companies perform a title search through the purchase process and can uncover encumbrances on a seller’s property before the deal is closed. You may also investigate this without a title company, but the process can be very time-consuming. You can search Bayfield County’s records here. Before beginning this process talk to your Buyer’s Agent as they may already have access to this data or additional resources.

2. How is the vacant land zoned?

A property’s zoning status determines how it can be used. In other words, you may own the land, but that does not mean you can do whatever you want with it. Rural, residential, and commercial land have very different planning and infrastructure requirements. In addition, if the lot is located near historical or ecologically significant sites, there are restrictions.

Bayfield County’s zoning code also protects wetlands, preserves shoreline and prevents overcrowding of any natural resource. You can see the zoning code in its entirety here. It is also a common misconception that a property needs to be re-zoned if it doesn’t “match” what your desires are. It is important to look at permitting as well such as special use or conditional use permits that may exist in the area.

3. How is the surrounding land?

Don’t just look at the lot you intend to buy, but the surrounding land as well. A stream at the foot of a neighboring property might become torrential when it rains, resulting in periodic flooding of your property. Some GIS systems can provide floodplain visuals and other topographical information that is useful to your decision making. In addition, it would be beneficial to learn if any future developments are planned – will something be built in the future that may impact your property?

4. Can vacant land be subdivided?

There are some investors who purchase land with the intention of subdividing it to multiply their profits. However, not all properties can be subdivided. Make sure to clarify this with your agent before purchasing land if you intend to develop the land in this way.

5. What about utilities on the vacant land?

You may wonder if/or how utilities will be available when looking at land outside the nearest city or township. Moreover, utility companies usually struggle to service secluded land. If it’s beyond their service area, you may need to pay more for a well, a septic or to get connected to electricity. The title commitment will also come in handy for this step of the process, as it will show any utility easements already existing to service the property.

6. Is the vacant land accessible?

On a related note, often times land is located in an undeveloped area and access may be an issue. If the land does not have frontage or access to a public road via a deeded easement, you may be landlocked. Some properties may provide access only through public land or by foot, and may not provide vehicular access or utility easements for electric. It is important to find out how the property will be accessed before making the purchase.

7. How much are surrounding properties valued?

Lastly, check with your agent on the going rate for the properties surrounding the parcel. Has the market value increased or decreased over the past few years compared to similar parcel sales? This is a good indication if the land is worth investing your money in.

There are many rewards to buying land, but it is important to keep these questions in mind to keep up with the challenges or complexities involved.

Still have more questions about your land purchase? Check out our Buyer’s Guide or give us a call today.  (715)779-5000 or e-mail agent@windseekerrealty.com

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