Need tips about buying land.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cathanna, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. cathanna

    cathanna Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    New York
    Want to buy land but have no idea what questions to ask of realtor and/or owner-seller. Anyone have guidelines on what to ask when making this type of purchase?

    What do I look for in the soil? Is there good or bad soil?

    Some "land for sale" ads state that the land is is 'ideal for hunter'. Does that mean it is not ideal for living?

    What does "power at road" mean? If "power is at road" how is it accessed? What should I ask about septic? Heating? Water? Sewer?

    What do I need to know about "right of way" onto property?

    If I find a property with stream, lake or river on/near property, what questions should I ask?

    I plan to buy the land first and put a cabin or trailer on it. Some ads say "building site." If it does NOT say building site does it mean it is not suitable for building?

    Also appreciate information on anything that I neglected to ask.

    Thank you.
  2. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2003
    Missouri, Springfield
    Here goes :)

    Lots of questions here. I'll address what I can. I would suggest the book "Ruralize your dreams: a comprehensive guide"

    This means that it is being sold as recreational land. This can mean its inaccessable during times of the year, flood land, or maybe just to rural for most folks. The thing to remember here is that you probally won't be able to get a loan from a bank(or if so you'll need quite a bit down).
    power at the road means just that. If your parcel much off the road(ours is 1 1/4 mile) then it could be quite expensive(or maybe impossible) to get it to your parcel depending on right of ways and such.

    You will most likely have to have a septic system put in(have a perc test done before you purchase if possible) as well as a well (check with neighboors to see how deep their well is and if possible have a driller come out and drill, otherwise make it part of the contract that no water = no sale) this will be expensive)especially if they don't find water because you have to pay the driller(normally)

    heating of course will depend on the electric avaiability as well as what you choose to heat with. I'm assuming there isn't a house on the property your looking at
    right of way is called ingress and egress. If you have to cross ajoining property to get to yours, make sure there is ingress and egress across that land also, otherwise you may have problems getting to yours. You can find this info on the legal description. The agent should be able to give you enough info to be able to find the deed at the county courthouse. Things like section, range etc is the info they should have to find the parcel. A legal description would say something like north 1/2 of South half .... section 15 township 10 range 20 for example.
    you can look up flood maps as well as looking at the land itself. look for marshy areas as well as flood markings on trees etc.
    not always. You will want to look at a topographic map as well as the land it's self. I can always tell more from looking than looking at a map. You will see if the land is steep or flat, etc just by looking. If in doubt, find a friend who can check the slope.

    Be sure to also check the job market in the area if you plan to live there full time or work outside the homestead. What good does a house on land do you if you can't keep it because of taxes or the payment ? :)

    I know there is a lot of info to digest here. Don't fret though. We all learn as we go and all pay some fools tax along the way.

    Good luck and good hunting.

  3. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Northern Wisconsin
    Here's my $.02 worth.

    Good soil/bad soil Most of the concern on the soils has to do with percolation for ones septic system. Sandy soil is great for septic systems.
    Of course clays are better suited to gardening.

    Ideal for hunter As stated, these lands are generally (not always) not suited for residencial purposes. The land quite often is lowland and swampy.

    Power at road means electrical service runs along the road. If your property borders the road, this is great, as all you need to do is contact the electric company to provide you with service.
    Septic/water is far more complicated. Most country homesites are not hooked into city septic & water. This means you have to have your own systems built. Drilling a well is a roll of the dice. You never know how deep the well will actually be. You can consult the neighbors to get a "ballpark" idea, but this can backfire on you.....with the neighbors buying the property right out from under you. Its common for the buyer to conduct a percolation test on the property before the sale, with the buyer paying the costs ($300 - $500). The percolation test will determine if the property is suitable for a conventional septic system or a mound system. Huge difference in prices. Conventional systems are generally $4000 - $5000, mound systems run $10,000 - $15,000. You as the home builder will be paying these costs when you build your house.

    Right of way into a parcel of property is extremely important. These issues commonly wind up in a lawyers office, where you will be bled dry by the lawyers, that have little desire for a quick resolution of the problem.
    The absolute best access to your property is where you own the property right up to a public road.
    Access across a shared road is quite often a nightmare. Things such as responsibility for road maintenance, winter snow plowing, culverts, etc are often a gray area, and not all people using the road are willing or able to financially contribute to its upkeep.
    Know exactly whats involved in the shared road before you even think about buying property accessed by a shared road.
    If you have a right of way through someone elses property, its quite possible you'll have to pay the costs for building a road. This can get very expensive.

    Property that has a lake, stream or river on or near the location will likely have far more restrictions regulating its usage. Some areas allow public access along river banks. Know from the start that you'll have far less control of your property when you purchase waterfront property.

    The inclusion or lack of the word "building site" in the real estate ad means nothing.

    The ideal country building site will have:
    Utilities at the property line (phone, electric, natural gas, cable)
    Be in an area where drilled wells are generally under 100 feet.
    Have sandy soil for a conventional septic system.
    An existing road into the property (even an old logging road)
    Land that is high & dry
    Be located in an area with some zoning regulations in place (this will keep Jed Clampette & his 12 kids, 14 junk cars, 9 round the clock howling dogs from moving next to you in his grubby $500 trailer without a septic system)
    Be located next to property that is undeveloped (national forest, paper company land, etc)
    A degree of privacy
    Be located on a blacktop road
  4. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 9, 2003
    Cathanna, Check out ebay. They auction land and many sellers put the downpayment as the auction price. Closing costs are often 99. In some cases you can get into a piece of land for a few hundred dollars and have payments around 100. I've seen land for sale all over the country, including Hawaii. gobug
  5. RAC

    RAC Guest

    If you're looking at anything with streams, lakes, or rivers running through, check the zoning restrictions and water rights--you don't want to buy something that you can't build or have animals within a 200 feet radius of--yet you're paying taxes on this property....
  6. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2002
    South West MI
    Hunting land is often overpriced they figure you can afford to pay more.

  7. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2003
    Dysfunction Junction, SW PA
    yes if you have ANY water running thru, find out if you own the creek and the land beside it. I looke dat a really really nice old place, the house was in need of total resoration but it had a barn and a BIG creek running at a good clip thru it with a clearly defined forest floodplain area . the creek was deep, and fast, so i am thinking "yippee waterwhell power!!" "yippee I can widen part of it and put in a rock rapid line to make a flow thru pond for the ducks n geese!" and I also said "whats that odd smell"
    well, the county said the stream couldnt be tampered with, dammed diverted or anything but the driveway bridge built over it (i dont know why) and i drove upstream along the road to see WHERE the water was coming from, and flowing past, and the smell was from a chemical plant, very small one but they must have been dumping the smell in the water. (wasnt a bad smell, just unnatural) and the water was clear with ducks and fish in it...
    well forget that... i may want to divert a small branch off it or set up a water wheel pump to bring it up to the gardens ect...
    see if the creek has restrictions on it from anyone, and see WHERE that water comes from and runs past.
    in PA they are real picky about the water... more who has rights to it than what they dump in it.

    and check the mineral rights. if there is a gas well on it OR you hit gas while drilling for water, you may not have the rights to USE the gas... and then you have the people who do own the gas/oil rights coming in and well you get the picture. usually if no oil/gas has beef found on the land you can buy the rights from the holder of said mineral rights.
    you may hit a seam of surface coal while plowing, and if you do you may not OWN the coal.... you may even get a 20 yr visit from the coal company who will part an appartment house size dragline in your ffront 40.... :haha:

    and if yor in the right area, and you happen to find a bit of color in your shovel (gold dust) while playin in your creek, you may not own the placer gold you find there either!
    if you have a LARGE place in a mineral rich zone, check into the mineral rights! you may be entitled to a share of them as the landowner, or you may be required to allow full access to the miners/drillers who do own it. in my deeds, I am required to surrender any coal deposits or finds to the coal comapny who owns the rights.... fortunately, the coal is a long way down under my feet and there are active deep mines all over so i dont think they will ever come here to strip, BUT 1/2 mile over the hill they just finished reclaiming the strip mine there SO there is always that possibility.
    you may even not own the timber rights...
    if you can secure a piece with ALL mineral/gas/oil rights, you have a good deal. test the groundwater, some places the groundwater has been poluted by sepage from landfills, waste dumps, deep mine floods/breakthrus, ect. just becaus eit LOOKS clean doesnt mean it is, polution can travel a long way underground.
  8. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

    Dec 9, 2002
    Try to find land which had a mobile burn down on it , should have well ,septic and power there already. Thats what we did then just brought our modular in.
  9. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Have it tested.

    Usually this indicates there is lots of woods and you would have to clear it for living. May also mean there is not mineral or water rights.
    Power is nearby, You have get it to your lot. If your buying land, there is most likely no septic. You have to ask, Can you even get an approved well or septic system. This will need to be valided with the local agency. Dont accept anyone elses word. There was a local parcel of land that a house was built on but they didnt get approval for a septic system. Now they find the land will not perk and they have a 200K home on the land and not legal water or sewage. They had to invest in a $30k pump based septic system and delivered water. Not going to be easy to overcome these problem when reselling.

    Find out who and what has a right of way. Also make sure you have water and mineral rights to the land. You may find you cant put a well on the property if you dont have water rights.

    Find out the 100, 50,25 and 10 year flood plans. Where does the water go, your state or federal waterways people can usually answer these questions.

    Building right will usually mean there is some flat cleared land.