Buying Land for Your New Home

Buying land doesn't have to be stressful.

Buying land may seem intimidating at first, but it really isn’t difficult at all if you plan a course of action and stick to it.

Know Your Budget

Talk with a loan officer to find out how much you can afford. Both down payments and interest rates can be higher for land than for homes, so it’s important to get the facts before you go shopping. If you plan to build soon, the loan officer should explain construction loans, including the closing procedures you’ll encounter while the house is being built.

Target a Location

If you’ve already looked at homes in the area, you may know where you want to build.

Your Wants and Needs

Make a list of all features that would exist on the ideal piece of land. Review the list, highlighting your must-haves, such as a great view, privacy, or a waterfront building site.

How Much Land Do You Need?

What’s the minimum size lot or tract of land you are willing to consider? Keep in mind that a heavily wooded, 1-acre lot may be more private than a 3-acre lot that’s all lawn. Tour a variety of neighborhoods and pay attention to the settings.

Consider Restrictive Covenants

Developments are governed by guidelines called Restrictive Covenants. Some dictate paint colors or have an architectural review committee that must approve your home plans. Study covenants carefully to determine if you can live with them.

Start Your Search

  • Look for ‘For Sale’ signs as you browse the area.
  • Search for properties on the Internet.
  • If you see interesting tracts of land, note their exact location. A visit to the county tax office is usually all it takes to find the owner.
  • Find a real estate agent who likes to work land sales. Talk with the agent about all of the categories above, and any others that might help her locate the perfect tract.

Development of the Lot

When considering a lot make sure that it has good drainage and does not hold water. Check with neighbors, if possible, to see what happens to the lot during long hard rains. Home sites with lots of topography can add to the cost of your home due to differentials in the foundation. It is a good idea to find out if the lot is in a flood plain.