If you’re shopping for a little slice of country life, you may think that buying land that’s undeveloped will be much simpler than buying a typical house in the city. But it’s likely you’ve got surprises in store. Here’s why it’s crucial to use a real estate agent who knows the lay of the land.
You are your own developer when buying land
When you purchase property in a subdivision, the developer has already spent months getting the community put together. The developer obtained permits for roads, utility services and subdividing lots, as well as zoning approval for the particular type of housing, amenities and more.
If you buy raw land, you must do all these things yourself. Regulations on these matters can vary from state to state and even county to county. An agent experienced in buying land can walk you through the steps you need to take to develop your property. Here are some of the key things your agent can help you navigate.
Watershed and environmental issues
A good agent can help you find answers to important questions such as these when you are buying land.
- Is the land in a designated floodplain? Is there is a nearby body of water that could overflow during heavy rain and flood your land?
- Could runoff from your land contaminate nearby water sources?
- Was the property exposed to dangerous chemicals during a previous use? If so, you may need to have a study conducted to see if it is contaminated.
Surveys and subdividing
A knowledgeable agent can assist you with these sorts of issues that arise when buying land.
- Just like suburban property, rural land needs to be surveyed. A survey may show that long fences and road and utility easements stretch for many acres across the property.
- It’s important to know whether local zoning or deed restrictions impose requirements such as minimum required distances between structures and land boundaries or between septic systems and water supplies.
- If you plan to subdivide, you need to know the county and state rules you must comply with as well as permit fees.
- Building a driveway that connects your property to public roads requires a permit from a county or state agency.
An agent experienced in land purchases will know the ropes when it comes to utilities such as electricity, telephone, Internet providers and, if available, natural gas.
- Your agent will know the local providers for utilities, which will require you to obtain permits. You will pay costs to run the supply lines onto the property for service.
- You may be responsible for providing a well and septic system to handle your land’s water and waste disposal.
- Wells usually require permits from state or local agencies. A septic system is typically permitted by a county agency such as the health department.
- Installing a septic system also requires a “perc test” to determine the land’s ability to disperse wastewater.
Negotiating price when buying land
When you are buying land, a savvy agent who’s expert in these matters and knows the area’s property values will know instinctively whether the sellers are asking a fair price for the property and will help you negotiate to get the best deal.
Related – How to Develop Your Own Land