Buying Raw Land

  Purchasing raw land is different than purchasing a property with a house already on it. While it can be appealing to start with a blank slate, it can also come with a lot of frustrations if you are not prepared. Here are some tips:

1)   Learn as much about the property as possible.

Look at to get an idea of the property’s sun exposure throughout different times of the year. Review the USDA soil maps here to understand the type of soil on your land and surrounding properties. Speak with neighbors about the property to get their opinion.

2)   Find a friend or real estate agent with a lot of experience.

You need someone who is familiar with the zoning laws, rules and restrictions unique to the area. You also want to make sure there are no easements and nothing preventing you from doing what you want to do with the land (such as build a home or farm).

3)   Understand that you have different loan options

While many people put 20% down on their primary residences, land loans may require 30% or more. They also have a higher interest rate than your typical mortgage loan because vacant land is considered riskier.

4)   Getting water and utilities can be expensive.

If you are purchasing land in a rural area, you will need to get clear on the logistics of getting water and utilities to your property. For water, you may need to drill a well. The cost associated with this will depend on how deep they have to drill and the type of soil. A "perc test" will determine if a septic system can be installed in an appropriate location.

Purchasing land requires a lot of due diligence to make sure it doesn’t become a money pit. Even with asking all the right questions, there can be surprises. Planning ahead and working with trusted professionals can make the process go smoothly.