Questions To Ask When Buying Land + Download Free Land Buying Checklist
What are the risks of buying cheap land? And how to find affordable land to build your Home? In this article, I am going to discuss every single risk-factor you need to know as a first time land buyer. The Most important questions to ask when buying land to build a house!
Buying Cheap Land can be very challenging. And a tight budget doesn’t make it easier. But the good news upfront: it’s definitely possible to buy cheap land.
Questions to ask when buying land to build a house!
Firstly, learn how to buy cheap land with a tight budget and don’t fall into any money pit. Secondly, use my comprehensive CHECKLIST below to avoid any mistakes before buying land!
Always try to consider as many checkpoints as possible. The right zoning, utility connections for water, sewer, power and internet. You name it.
No matter what you do. Before buying rural land you’ll need to make sure you’ll get all mandatory permissions for building your home.
How to find Cheap Land without falling into a money Pit?
Now let’s get started. There are a lot of questions to ask before buying a house. My comprehensive list contains 48 check-points you should consider when searching for cheaply land. It’s absolutely possible to find inexpensive land. But of course, you need to do your homework.
If you plan to build your home and your budget is tight you’ll need to have the right action plan for locating and buying cheap land.
No matter if you are considering a 100% DIY project to build your home, or if you are going to hire an architect plus a general contractor who is doing all the work for you. Getting the land is the first step when starting your house project.
And it’s the most important foundation. Therefore, you need to know what questions to ask when buying land to build a house!
Don’t fall into any money pit. Take 5-Minutes reading that article that will save you thousands of Dollars. Never forget the most important questions to ask when buying a home.
How to find land that fit’s within your Budget
Allright. I can tell you from experience, that you just don’t have to ask three, four or five questions when buying land. Nope. It’s not even a dozen. It’s almost 50 questions you should check before buying a property.
But what are these questions to ask when buying land to build a house? Well, let’s get started.The first point is your budget itself. It’s very obvious, that you need to have some money to kick start your project.
Best case scenario would be, if you don’t need any mortgage at all. And you have savings and you can afford buying land without any financing.
In other words. Before you even consider buying any land, make sure you have some savings. Next, determine your Budget. What’s financially feasible for you? It doesn’t make any sense if you are looking for a land that is for sale and cost $500k if your Budget only allows you to spend $10k.
What Questions to ask if you want to Buy Land for Cheap
Let’s face it, a lot of people think that you are nuts if you are trying to buy land under $10k . The most common answer you’ll get: It’s just impossible and quite frankly: Just forget about it.
Or people come up with a lot of other creative excuses. For example, if you’ll ever get any land dirt cheap, then there must be catch. Like, who got 40 acres and a mule and can buy dirt cheap land, right?
And yes, absolutely. There is some truth in it. You need to be very careful when buying land. Especially if you are a first time buyer, you need to know all sorts of different questions to ask when buying land to build a house.
I already have proven a lot of people dead wrong on that. We are in the United States of America. In other words, this country is still full of opportunities. But, also full of pit falls. Knowledge and experience is key when it comes to buying cheap land.
That’s why I can’t stress enough about my comprehensive checklist, that contains all important questions to ask before buying land.
On the contrary of some pit falls, there are still many options available. For everyone. Even if your Budget for buying land is just $10k.
But let’s keep one thing in mind. Your Budget determines your buying location. Why? Well, to illustrate that point more clearly, let’s chat about a simple example. And right after, let’s focus on what to ask when buying land!
What you need to know before buying land
If you don’t want to fall into a money pit – you have to know all the important questions to ask when buying land to build a house.
If you follow the mass you’ll have for sure a hard time to find real cheap land. You need to think outside of the box. Most Land Buyers use the most common platforms. There is also nothing wrong about it. Besides the fact, that there is a lot of competition.
In addition to the online search, I highly recommend also doing an offline search. If you know already a specific location, then it’s 100% worth it to get on a few rides. Checkout your location by car. Drive around and check every corner to find any signs saying: For Sale by owner!
For example, just today I was driving in my neighborhood and a new sign popped up on a wonderful lot. The title of that sign:”2 acre land for sale”. I was very excited and called immediately the sellers number. The zoning of the land was residential. And I was informed, that I could potentially build five different homes.
City utilities have been all setup for connection. However, the sales price for this wonderful land of 2 acre was $750.000. I knew immediately. I would love to get this land. But this land is in a price range I simple can’t afford.
What determines the sales price of a land?
Why is some land so incredibly expensive? And why can you get another land for very cheap? Firstly, it’s the location that matters. Secondly, the zoning restrictions. And thirdly, all the mandatory utilities to use the land.
If the location will provide already an established infrastructure, like roads, shops, public services, schools, hospitals, everything close to your location. All that matters for the price. Well, it’s very obvious. The price will go up. And if the environment doesn’t have to offer anything. The price will go down.
Equally important is the city economy that also influences the sales price of a land. A bigger city brings more job opportunities. Therefore, more people are attracted to the city.
The demand will go up and long term less land will be available. Now, knowing all those factors it’s time to take a closer look tho the most important question: How can you find cheap land online?
How to find cheapest land for sale?
If you want to buy an affordable piece of land, you need to look further away from developed cities. Increase your search radius. In other words, you should understand that chances to find cheap land in major cities of the US will be very low.
Unless you are very very lucky. But chances to buy a land under $10k in any of big cities of the United States – it’s nearly impossible.
So what can you do? And what’s the solution, especially if you have a limited Budget? The answer is simple. You need to look further outside of those major cities. And you should also consider states where the cost of living is cheaper. Of course, you also should pick a state you want to live in.
Depending on your own wishes and circumstances. Do you like hot weather? Or do you like cold weather? Are you more a beach person? Or more a mountain guy? Continue reading and find out now all the important questions to ask when buying land to build a house.
What questions to ask when buying land?
Okay, let’s stay positive and keep one thing in mind. The options to buy cheap land in the US are huge. And I am going to show you right now how to start your search to find an affordable land.
The most important mistakes to avoid before buying land. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for 10 acres of land that’s for sale, or just 1 acre. With my comprehensive Checklist called DD-Checklist or DOOMSDAY CHECKLIST you can avoid any unforeseen surprises when buying cheap land.
Make sure to go through every single point. Read carefully and take your time. I know it’s a lot to consider when buying an affordable land. But trust me. It’s worth it and you don’t want to regret your purchase afterwards. So here you can find all the questions to ask when buying land to build a house.
That comprehensive checklist includes also questions to ask when buying a lot in a subdivision. Or when having multiple parcels with different types of zoning.
Questions to ask when buying land to build a house
Land Buying Checklist
Things to know before buying land:
Here are the most important checkpoints you should always consider when searching for a land you want to build your homestead.
Land Buying FAQ
What should I look for when buying land?
Check for HOA Fees
Make sure your land doesn’t belong already to a community that charges you Home Owner Association Fees – or short HOA Fees. Needless to say. If that’s the case, your restrictions what you can do and can’t do on your land will be pretty restrictive.
Annual Property Tax
First you want to check how much the annual property tax is just for the land before buying and building a home. But additional to that, you also want to make the proper research and get an estimate how much you’ll have to pay on property tax after you built your new home. I recommend to hire a title company. The title company will make the proper research and will send you a report in exchange for a little fee.
No Lean on the Property
It’s also important that there is no existing lean on the land. If you hire a title company, they will send you the report and let you know. Also don’t forget to investigate, if the property owner owes any property tax.
Direct access to county maintained road
Often times non county maintained roads don’t get permits for a septic tank installation. If that’s the case, you will not get any permission to build the septic tank.
Direct access to the city utility connections for sewer, water and electricity
Even if you have access, you still need to consider all the additional costs for the connection. If you are planning to built your home further away from the connections, the trench that needs to be built will become more expensive.
As closer as you built your home to the connections as cheaper it will be. If city water is available, you also need to install a water meter. The cost varies from city to city. But you can estimate about $1000. The city will not provide a water meter for free. You need to pay for the installation.
What’s the minimum and maximum square feet size the house can be built?
Ask the city about the zoning restrictions. The city or county requires certain limitations. A minimum and maximum size of your home. For example, your home can’t be smaller than 1200 square foot, and does not be larger than 2200 square foot. Double check with the city especially for the zoning and your buildings restrictions.
Is a Peat Septic System Required ?
Double check if the city requires a peat septic system. And if that’s the case double check with the soil test if you’ll get actual permission to install a peat septic system. Furthermore, get different quotes from companies installing a peat septic system. So you know exactly how much it will cost you.
Do you have Cellphone Service?
Make sure you have some cellphone service. In case for emergencies and in general for any communication needed.
Are natural water sources availalable?
If possible, always look for a property that has any natural water source available. Water is essential for life, for your gardening or farming. Check for lakes, rivers, springs and of course for a water well.
Can you get a high speed internet service provider?
Even if you have cellphone service. I highly recommend to have also an internet service provider. Especially if you are remote and not plan to live in a big city. Internet will be a life safer for many things. Online Orders, Emergency Contact and even a potential online business. If a connections is not established yet – ask how much it would cost to setup a connection.
Can you drill your own water well?
You should also know before buying the land, how the water quality is. If you have a lot of iron in the water it’s not drinkable and it might not be useable for watering vegetables on your land. Ask the seller to provide a water quality test.
Do you own mineral rights, surface rights or none of them?
In many cases, land owners might not own their mineral rights. To illustrate, think about layers. Your land has a surface layer, but underneath that surface you also have a mineral layer.
It could be sand, it could water, it could be gas, oil, gold, silver, iron, copper, etc. It’s very interesting to know that any mineral company that owns the rights of your land for the minerals can potentially knock on your door at any time letting you know they are going to start drilling.
You might need to compromise and in worst case scenarios you’ll have to include a lawyer that will make sure you are’t thrown in front of a bus.
How do you know if somebody owns the mineral rights? There are two different deeds. The surface rights can change many times. But not the mineral rights. If the mineral rights are not mentioned in the deeds, it’s just carried over from the deed before.
What you have to do is to hire a title specialist to be able to track down the deed for the mineral rights. Meaning, if your current deed doesn’t say anything about the mineral rights, you gotta find the deed that does.
Avoid a flood zone
Especially when living close to the ocean. Marsh Land is known to be flooded. No matter where you plan to buy land. Always make sure that the land is not in a flood zone.
Avoid any Wetland
Same recommendation as for flood zones. It’s the same with wetland. Absolutely avoid wetland. Restrictions to live on wetland or even build anything on it are to big of an obstacle. Red Flag.
Check the Deed Restrictions
To sum it up. You need to check the deed restrictions. There you will find the most important restrictions that may limit what you can and can’t do on your property. How to do that? Check the OFFICIAL property deed at your county clerk’s office. The deed restrictions cover all the rules, what you can do, and what you can’t do.
Know how many homes you are allowed to build on the land?
Is your property zoned for one home only? Or can you build two ore even multiple homes on your land?
Is your land big enough to grow some vegetables?
If you consider to live a very frugal lifestyle, you want to make sure that your land is big enough to grow some food.
Can you have some farm animals, like chickens, sheeps, etc.?
City areas are very restrictive. You can’t just hold goats, sheeps, pigs and cows in a city zoned area. Neighbors would complain. If you want to have your own little farm with some animals, always check if the land has the right zoning for you.
Check the Terrain – flat, hills, cliffs, water, marsh, etc?
Besides zoning restrictions, you want to check out the land on location. Yes, that’s right. You need to get on the land you want to buy and check the situation as well as the condition of the terrain.
Is it mainly flat and useable? Or do you have a lot of hills or even cliffs and land you can’t just use at all because of the terrain conditions?
Is it cleared land or treed?
Before buying land, make sure you know what you want. If the land is treed but you want to have it cleared it will cost you extra money to get this job done. Furthermore, before you can also clear the land, you need to double check with the city, county and state that you are allowed to remove the trees on that property.
Make sure your land has no endangered species. Otherwise it will be almost impossible to build anything on this land.
Check the land how it looks like in winter, summer, spring or fall to check the environmental circumstances.
For this case, it’s great to check google maps and or google images and find photos from locals. Another good option is to use Instagram and to search for a hashtag with the name of the nearest city.
Insects, weather conditions, trees, etc. Check the entire land for trash, or covered objects like old cars, etc. make sure nobody buried any trash on the land. Make sure it was not a cemetery before you buy.
Are you allowed to rent your property?
Also check for vacation rentals. How many units per acre are you allowed to develop? And are you allowed to rent out the property at any time?
Is the Zoning Residential?
Of course you need to check the zoning of the property. Is it residential, commercial, farm land, etc? Make sure to get this right.
Can the house be a prefab and manufactured?
A very interesting point to know. Before buying land, you need to know what you are allowed to build on this land? Are Prefab Homes allowed? Or Manufactured homes, tiny homes, or even mobile homes on wheels?
Are Home Kits allowed?
Home Kits are very attractive solutions. They can save you a lot of money in case you can build a Home Kit by yourself. Double Check any zoning restrictions in your area and make sure you are allowed to build a house with a home kit.
Can you have a Trailer as a permanent structure on the land?
Many land buyers are getting very frustrated when they can’t even park their trailer on their own land. Especially if you think to keep your trailer permanent in the front yard or backyard. Does the vehicle be registered? Make sure this point is clear before buying the land of your choice.
Can you have a Mobile Home or Tiny Home on Wheels on your land?
Regulations and restrictions vary from town to town, from city to city and from county to county. And every state has it’s own rules on top of it. Make sure to check if you are allowed to have mobile homes or even tiny homes on wheels permanently on your land.
Is a plat available for the property?
The plat of your property is very important. It’s a drawing that shows the borders of your land. Make sure the plat you are looking at is fairly recent (maximum 3-4 month old).
Are the boundary lines marked on the property itself?
If the boundary lines are not marked, you want to get a survey done on the property. The survey can cost about $150 per acre. the Survey Company will survey the land and mark the points of the property.
Marking and flagging the borders will be extra. A new plat will cost you as well. Always ask the seller to provide all that information. Or layout all your additional costs and negotiate a better deal.
Test the Lands Soil
The soil has to support your home. Get a professional soil testing done before you buy the land. And if you are going to have a septic tank, does the soil support that? Consider the fact, that a septic tank system including their installation can cost up to $10k
Know Your Due diligence Time Period
What’s the due diligence period? It is a certain period of time you can investigate the property. And during that time, when you find anything you don’t like, you can back out of the deal. If the soil only supports one specific area to have a septic tank – then you can only build the house in that specific location.
Or let’s say you’ll buy 5 acres, but only one tiny part of the land is permitted to have a septic tank. Then you can’t just build where you want. Soil Testing might cost you $500 per acre. Includes radiation/sink holes/farming
Can you run some home based business on the property?
If you are planing to start your own little home business, then it’s mandatory that you can do this from home. Make sure you’ll have no community restrictions when starting your own home business.
Are you allowed to build a parking lot?
Considering all kinds of weather conditions. It’s always good to consider additional parking spots. Make sure you are allowed to build a small parking lot with at least 2-cars parking.
Is the property restricted to park vehicles, boats or anything else on your property?
Any vehicle you might have needs to be parked on your property. If vars, boats, trucks, 4-wheeler’s or motor homes. Make sure you can park any vehicle on your property – with license plates and without registration.
Attachments to Main Building
Also check for attachments and buildings you are allowed or not allowed to build on the property. For example, like a workshop, a garage, or any other attachment buildings you have in mind.
What power company services the address?
How much is the power company charging you to connect the service? How far away is the connection plug from your house and how much will an extension cost? You might have to dig your own additional trench to lower the costs.
Do you have a gas provider?
What energy source are you considering for your heating and cooling system? Electric, Gas, Solar, or even possible wind energy?
What are your annual maintenance costs?
Know the maintenance costs for your property or all the efforts you need to put in to trim bushes, grass, trees, etc. Also consider the costs of all the tools you need to rent or to buy.
Do you have a direct access from your land to a public road?
Not every lot has a direct access to a public road. If you only can access the property from any other private road, you can be charged a lot of money to access your property. Worst case. They don’t allow you to drive and to access your property at all.
What stores do you have close by?
A grocery store is very important. But also, keep in mind. Maybe at some point in your life you would like to rent your property. What stores are close by that are useful and helpful?
What schools are close by?
For young families with kids – it’s a good idea to have schools close by. It’s great if kids can have some other social connections. If you are not such a great fan from public schools – make sure the state your are buying land does somehow support home schooling.
Any Emergency Hospitals or Urgent Care centers close by?
Any Emergency or Urgent Care Centers close by? Also check for Dentists that are constantly needed for checkups.
Can your land be reached by car at any time?
In some cases, you might also consider land on an island that can be only reached with a fairy. You should also consider those costs. Examples are islands in Washington or South Carolina.
What’s the local rental market look like?
Check the rental market and see how much money you could ask to rent your place. In case you would like to move or just rent your home, you should also know how much your annual rental income could possible be.
Check unhealthy environmental living issues
Make sure you don’t have close by your land any power lines or cellphone service towers, nuclear power plants or any manufacturing companies like a paper mill (smell issues) that bight be of any health concern.
What activities can be done close by – any attractions?
Is there a shooting range close by, a lot of traffic, noise, motocross tracks, landfill, etc. Check out the local grocery store to meet the people who live at the location and get to know the people in that community.
What are the neighbors like?
Best tip you can do. Drive to your nearest local grocery store and connect with the local people. Figure out what’s going on in town. Check for noise issues (motocross training tracks, shooting range, etc.) or any other local activities from your neighbors that might be a problem for you.
What to look for when buying land to build on
Yes, you did it. Now you covered the most important questions to ask when buying land to build a house. Quite frankly, after collecting all those checkpoints I felt shredded.
Yes, I felt frustrated. I realized that the search itself will be a huge challenge. But before you think it’s impossible. Let me tell you, it is not. And as we all know. Even Mission Impossible was always possible, right?
The good news: It’s absolutely possible to find the land you are looking for. But most likely, you’ll need to prioritize what’s most important for you. And then compromise on a few points. but no matter what – what ever works for you, that’s the most important part – that’s what really matters.
What is the best place to buy land?
There is not one solution – there are several solutions. Because every wishes and every situation is different and unique. But now what? What is the next step?
After knowing those 47 Checkpoints it’s time to move on and find resources, webpages, and online platforms to search for cheap land online. The questions are: Where do you find cheap land for sale and how to search for cheap land that’s for sale online and offline?
For that reason, I created another wonderful blog post that just covers that topic. Please find here more about it: Best Tips on How to Find Cheap Land
HOT TIPS: Don’t miss them
If you want to buy very cheap land, you might also consider the US-Government. Yes, that’s right. The US has Government Property for Sale or Disposal.
That resource is a very valuable database to get cheap land. You should take a closer look and spend some time using the resources from the General Services Administration, short called GSA.
The GSA has surplus personal and real property which it makes available for sale or lease by qualified parties.
Real Property relates to land and structures on that land, and includes undeveloped land, office buildings military holdings and more.
Finding Alternative’s to get to cheap land
Here are my findings. When you consider to buy an undeveloped land, you probably have already noticed that you have to add much more money on top of the sales price.
In some cases, getting all the permits and all the utilities you need to live on the land can cost more money than the land itself. But what if you can totally avoid that problem with the utility connections? And what if you can also avoid any other zoning issues?
Now you know that buying cheap land is not necessary the safest, easiest and quickest way to get to land and to build your home. I went even beyond that phase and came to some very interesting findings.
In conclusion, think twice before you want to buy new undeveloped land. Or land, that might be offered on sale for a very low price. You have a lot of unknown factors to consider. I mean, just check all the points above discussed – it’s a lot of things you need to consider before buying property.
One of the major points when buying undeveloped land is the fact, that you usually have to pay for all the utility connections. This is also a huge part, on top of all possible zoning restrictions.
But what alternative would be better? Read all about my findings and the best alternatives in my article –> Land with utilities for sale.