Deciding to build a house can be both exciting and overwhelming. But before you can start designing your dream home, you need to select a piece of land that will suit your needs. It can be a long and arduous operation, but by the end, you’ll be glad that you invested the time to make the right choices.
To help you out with the process, here are 5 crucial steps to follow when trying to find a plot of land to build your home:
1. Determine your requirements
This is a good time to separate out your wants and your needs. Start by thinking of the areas where you might want to build. This includes investigating specific communities. You should also consider if you want to buy urban, suburban, or rural. Be realistic about your desires. You may want a sprawling five-acre plot that has room for horses. But if you don’t have horses, and you’re 5-10 years away from obtaining some, you may not need such a large plot. It makes sense to take the long view on your purchase, as well. You may love the idea of buying a small plot in the city center, but will wish you bought something bigger long-term.
2. Thorough early search
Now that you’ve got a general idea of where you want to look, it’s time to actually start the searching. One of the easiest and most comprehensive places to start is by checking MLS listings in the area. MLS covers all different types of properties for sale, but you can filter your search to include only land and lots. There are also search engines, such as LandAndFarm.com, that are limited to undeveloped land and farms.
3. Watch for scams
There are many ways to buy land, and not simply through a traditional realtor. But when you take a different route, you should be wary of scams. There are two types of property scams that are particularly popular nowadays. The first entails a “seller” attempting to sell or rent property that s/he does not own. S/he will:
- Refuse to put transactions on paper
- Avoid actions that call attention, such as broad Internet advertising
- Ask that you wire money or send a check
The second scam is a real property sale. However, the land has been zoned a particular way that you will not be able to obtain planning permission for many years, if ever. In both cases, the sale seems like an excellent deal. In short, if it feels too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Make sure you can build
Once you’ve settled on a particular plot of land you’d like to buy, it’s time to do some research. You will want to examine the land’s zoning ordinances and any environmental considerations. That charming little creek that runs through the back of the property might not be so pleasing when you learn that it comes with hefty environmental regulations. Some properties have been restricted from building for various reasons. You should also have the soil tested for its load-bearing capability and for serious environmental toxins
5. Find a lender
Finally, unless you’re prepared to pay cash, you should look for a lender. It is more practical to seek a local community lender who is receptive to land loans. You can show them the zoning report that shows you can build on the property. If you’ve chosen a builder or an architect, you can use the plans to demonstrate that you will be making a useful addition to the property.
By the end of your search, you will have completed a significant part of the home-building process. You’ll have an excellent plot of land that you can use to build the home you’ve been waiting for.
Nicole has been writing about home buying and home building for years, including everything from finding the closest land sales in your area to how to choose the best materials for your home.