Have you bought a house and are considering whether to expand the acreage? Are you planning on creating your own business venture and a large space for it? Or are you looking for a piece of land to build a house on? Buying a house can be complicated, but buying vacant land is another headache entirely. There is a lot to consider when looking at land: what you are going to do with it, water drainage, utilities and even neighbors such as farms or pre-existing neighborhoods. Vacant land is also a large financial purchase and, unlike a house purchase, there isn't a lot of options when it comes to loans or grants. If you do decide to buy a large plot of land, you should do some in-depth research and discuss options with a realtor. This is a list of a few things to consider when buying a large acre plot of land.
1. Location is Key
Just as you would look at the neighborhood when buying a house, location is absolutely key when looking at vacant land. Are you looking at a piece of land surrounded by farm or pasture? Or is it located near a highway or interstate? Does the surrounding land have the potential of being turned into a neighborhood? Understanding what you want to do with your acreage plot will answer several of those questions when you are looking at location. For example, you may not want to buy large acreage for a small farm if the surrounding area has the potential of becoming a neighborhood in 2-5 years. Similarly, if you are buying a large plot to build on, the livestock on a nearby farm can be smelled up to 2 miles away.
2. Water Drainage and Weather
Water drainage is always a concern when looking at land, whether it's large or small. In regions where flooding can be an issue, knowing whether the land is usable is important. For example, some areas in the Deep South are marsh or swampland. Even if the top half of a plot looks dry, the bottom half could be a swamp. Alternatively, the property could buffer against wetlands, which will cause part or all of the property to flood during a good rainy season. This can even happen if a creek runs through part of the property. If drainage isn't that great, then one good rain storm could render a portion of the land unusable. Check flood-zone and watershed reports of any property looked at.
Weather should also be considered when looking at property. If a house is being built on top of a hill, will the wind make it unbearable to enjoy the view? Waterfront property can bring about flooding concerns and if on the coast, hurricane problems as well.
3. Resource Rights
Depending on where the property is, there will possibly be resource rights that need to be researched prior to purchase. Water, mineral access and even timber rights can affect who is able to come on the property and even what can be used on the property. A creek that runs through the middle of the land can be part of the county or city watershed, and thus, restricted up to a certain distance. Oil companies that buy mineral rights on someone's property can start exploratory drilling. Timber on a piece of land can be owned by a third party. Even access rights, such as a neighbor's driveway cutting through part of the property, can affect how much land is usable or if any disagreements and headaches will be in the foreseeable future of property ownership.
4. Property Maintenance
While maintenance of the initial property is up to the owner, who is responsible for the maintenance of access roads and surrounding area? Driveways leading to the property are, of course, up to the property owner to maintain. Access roads, whether paved or dirt, can fall under different jurisdiction though. Sometimes it's up to the property owner to maintain the road, while sometimes it can be worked out with surrounding neighbors. Most times, it's up to county or state to maintain any roads or back routes. Doing the research and knowing who does the maintenance will solve a lot of headaches and surprises in the future.
5. Environmental Tests and Surveys
Finally, don't skimp on getting environmental tests and surveys done. If a property has exchanged hands even a couple times, it's a good idea to make sure the soil isn't contaminated. A survey can show where the property lines are truly at. If there are neighbors on one or more sides of a vacant property, sometimes gardens or fence lines get pushed past property lines. This is especially true if a piece of land has sat vacant for a long time. Surveys also can reveal potential flood zones or resource issues.