Purchasing a vacant lot can be a great investment or a total waste of money. It never hurts to look around and check out unoccupied lots, but consider the purchase seriously before you buy. Here are a few of the things you need to know about and think about in advance of buying a lot.
Location is just as important when buying a lot as it is when purchasing a pre-built home. On top of that, it may be much less obvious where the great locations are. Notice where the lot lies in relation to employment opportunities, restaurants, shopping centers and grocery stores. Even if you plan to use the lot as a wilderness retreat, this information will be important to know.
Find out if there are utilities running to the property. Learn about all the different types of utilities so you will know what your options are. For example, you will obviously need electricity, water and sewer lines. Also think about utilities that are not used by everyone, such as cable TV and natural gas lines. If the land is not hooked up with utilities, do your homework to find out how hard and expensive it will be to bring them in.
Assuming that you know what you want to use the land for, take the time to find out about the zoning restrictions covering the land. You may not be able to build a business there, or a home. In fact, you might not be allowed to build anything at all. Depending on your hopes for the land, it may be important to know whether you can quarter livestock on the land. A thorough understanding of the zoning laws governing your intended lot purchase is essential no matter how you plan to use it.
If the lot you are thinking about buying does not have direct access to public streets and roads, you may have to deal with easements. In simple terms, an easement allows you to access your property through the private road of a neighbor. However, easements can be complex contracts, so it is wise to hire a real estate lawyer to help you arrange the deal. If you want to avoid dealing with easements, look for a property with that direct access.
Many times, people buy lots with only a vague description of the property lines. A seller might tell you that the land goes from one fence to another or along a natural border such as a river. This information helps you get an idea of the lay of the land, but do not discount the value of knowing your exact borders.
Never buy a plot of land without knowing whether it is on a flood plain. No matter how you intend to use the land, it will do you no good if it is regularly under water.
The mineral rights of a property may or may not be valuable to you. In any case, it is good to know. You may need or want that knowledge in the future to fully take advantage of all the resources of your land.