If you think finding the perfect house is hard, try finding the perfect land for that house. Finding a property that is in your budget, near your place of work, has passed all the necessary tests, is zoned for the type of house you want to build, and is not cluttered with restrictions can drain a person. We’ve created a checklist of questions to ask to make sure you get the perfect plot to build your dream house on.
1. Is The Lot Buildable?
You’d be surprised how many people don’t ask this question. It’s easy to assume that if vacant land is being sold in a residential area, it is automatically buildable, but that’s not true. Be sure to run a soil test to make sure the (especially recommended if your lot is located near gas stations, body shops, or anything where toxic liquids might be present). Read through all the paperwork that comes with the land to make sure there are no hidden non-building clauses.
2. Are The Other Houses In The Area Within My Building Budget?
If you want to build a $3 million home in a neighborhood of $1 million homes, you are going to run into serious trouble. Building houses with values different than the neighbors can throw the local land values out of whack.
In an article in U.S. News, Neville Graham, a real estate agent with Partners Trust, recalls a client having her construction loan denied because the $2.2 million building and land cost was far more than the average $1.5 million houses in the neighborhood. The client had just finalized buying the land, but now can’t do what they hoped with it. That’s a true land horror story!
3. What Utilities Do I Have Access To?
Different properties have different rules about what utilities you have access to. This includes:
There’s nothing worse than someone who buys their dream property, but finds out too late that they don’t have legal access to necessities like water and power.
4. What Are The Zoning Restrictions? / Is This Neighborhood Under Consideration For Re-Zoning?
Local governments establish zoning ordinances to regulate land use and determine school districts. If zoning regulations are changed, they can drastically change what you can build on your land. Zoning restrictions are also important for families wanting to get their children into the best local public schools. Keep a close eye on the local news and government to get a sense of changing zoning laws.
5. Is The Property Close to X?
Location, location, location! We went in-depth into this popular saying in our previous residential real estate article, but it’s so important we had to add it to this list as well. X stands for whatever matters most to have near you. For some people, it’s their place of work. For others, it’s schools for their children. Nature lovers often put gorgeous views above all else, while culture vultures will prioritize being near great restaurants, theatres, and museums. It all depends on what is most important to you.
While finding the perfect property is difficult, knowing which questions to ask will make the whole process a lot smoother. Another way to make the land search easier is by working with an Accredited Land Consultant (). ALCs know everything there is to know about land, and you can use the Find A Land Consultant tool to find one in your area.
About the Author: Laura Barker is the Membership and Communications Specialist for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.