Owning vacant land has been an overpowering concept in America since the early days of its history. Land sales still abound and investing in vacant land can prove profitable -- if sufficient research is done before money passes hands. Investigate thoroughly, speak to local landowners and banks and contact all local utility companies before investing in a parcel of land.
Know how you intend to use the land once you own it and then meet with the local planning and zoning commission to determine if your plans fit into the area’s growth pattern and zoning. Understand the future uses of local roads so they won’t impede on your concept. Recognize what easements restrict your use of the property, if any, and what building plans for surrounding parcels have been submitted or discussed.
Hire a land surveyor to draw the physical map of the land and identify all legal and physical boundaries. Ask the local assessor’s office if the property is located in a registered subdivision. If so, find out what the restrictions are. Learn if any wetland restrictions and building standards are in force for the land. Study the land during different seasons to understand how it accommodates water runoff. View the land during winter, when trees are bare, to grasp what surrounds the land.
Speak with utility providers to determine if water, electricity, gas, sewage and road works can be provided and at what cost. Know your neighbors – an adjacent garbage dump may not make the best neighbor and the lights of a nearby athletic field may flood your property with light and noise throughout the evening.
Speak with a local land sales real estate agent to get comparisons of vacant land costs. Contact a local bank, one that is not part of a national chain, to get the best financing advice for the area. Arrange a construction loan that wraps the land purchase into the loan, if that's your intent.
Arrange financing with the seller, to avoid closing costs and fees. Be prepared to offer a substantial down payment and agree to a short payback term. Get clear title, allowing you to refinance or resell as long as you are current in your payments.
Speak with a general contractor to determine construction costs on your projected development. If the overall costs are extreme and out of your budget, rethink the vacant land purchase.
Jann Seal is published in magazines throughout the country and is noted for her design and decor articles and celebrity *in-home* interviews. An English degree from the University of Maryland and extensive travels and relocations to other countries have added to her decorating insight.