Solid Footing – 5 Steps To Buying The Right Vacant Lot For Your Home

If you're looking to buy some real estate, it may seem that buying a vacant lot in order to build a home can be easier than buying an existing home -- with all its pros and cons. But the two projects aren't quite the same, and buying empty land can have its own challenges. If you're thinking of doing so, here are 5 steps to ensure you find the right property. 

Make a List. Whether you build a house in a new construction community or create a new home in an existing neighborhood, the area you choose should match your personality. Make a list of the things that are important to you -- both in your home and in the surrounding community. This may include such aspects as being kid-friendly, having good schools, being within walking distance to your favorite activities, boasting easy access to main commuter routes, featuring an active night life, or simply finding a remote and quiet location. This list will help guide your shopping. 

Research the Property. You can find out a lot about a proposed lot purchase before you step foot on it. Go online and examine the property and surrounding area from all angles, including satellite overviews and street level angles. You can often look up public information on lots in older neighborhoods to determine the property's history, such as easements, environmental conservation requirements, HOA covenants, and its past ownership.  

Walk the Land. Before signing on the dotted line, be sure to walk around the property and look it over carefully. It may look great from the curb, but problems can hide in the underbrush. Look for things like elevation changes, signs of pooling water or erosion, indications of underground problems, existing structures that will need to be removed, and utility hookups. 

Be Sure About Access. If the land hasn't been lived on before, you'll want to ensure that you and your builder are on the same page about making it livable. Discuss what utilities are already in place and what fees there may be for hooking up to any others. Find out what type of sewer system is involved, and have it inspected if necessary. And make sure the property has proper access to main roads.

Hire Help. The best way to handle any real estate purchase is to hire a professional real estate agent to work as your broker -- with only your own best interests at heart. In addition, you may want to consult a civil engineer to assess the property itself. Other useful professionals you might want to inspect the property include a historical consultant, architect, landscape designer, or utilities locating service. It may require a little investment of time and money, but having things overseen by pros can save you a lot of headaches later on.

By following these few steps. you can approach your land purchase with confidence and less stress. And then, you can move on to the fun part -- building the home of your dreams on your new property.