How to Select an Empty Lot

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Are you planning to make a significant investment in your life? First things first, what do you want in a piece of land? There are many vacant lots for sale in the world, and setting a goal is the first step towards a successful purchase. The reason for purchasing the lot must be clear. Do you intend to save it as a secure real estate investment, or do you want to build your dream house? Knowing the purpose behind the purchase is crucial. Once you have clarity, it’s time to start looking for the right lot.

Before you begin your search for the perfect plot, review your finances to determine your budget. Once you’ve determined your spending limit, it’s time to start looking. However, there are a few things you should know before making a purchase, such as the ideal size of the lot, the expected cost, and the most important factors to consider when selecting an empty lot. Read on to learn more about choosing a vacant lot.

 

Amount of Land and Location

Choosing the amount of land to buy is one of the most significant decisions when purchasing an empty lot. Land is typically measured in acres, which are 43,560 square feet (4,047 square meters) each, or approximately the size of a football field. If you’re interested in constructing a house outside of an urban area, you’ll come across lots ranging from less than an acre to many dozens of acres. You’ll have to decide for yourself how much land you want. Looking for a huge yard and seclusion? Several acres may be to your liking.

In densely populated areas where vacant land is usually scarce, expect to pay more per acre. The land is more valuable because it’s closer to a population center where finding undeveloped lots can be more challenging. The downside to such an advantageous location, of course, is that you could end up paying as much for a quarter of an acre in the city as you’d pay for multiple acres in the country or suburbs.

To get an idea of how much the land you’re looking at is worth, locate your local tax assessor’s office website online (they’re usually organized by county) and browse through records to find property sales in your area. By determining the selling prices of other land in the area, you can establish an idea of how much the land you’re looking at is worth [source: Georgia Assessors].

Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Vacant Lot


In case there is no public road giving direct access to the land you want to buy, you may need an easement on a private property belonging to your neighbor.
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Once you have determined how much money you need to buy a piece of property, there are still various challenges that you have to overcome before you can secure your dream lot. First and foremost, government zoning restrictions dictate the type of construction that can take place on any given land. For instance, purchasing a lot in a residential zone means that you can only get a permit to construct a house. To simplify this issue, you can browse through real estate websites where you can easily select between residential and commercial lots. Alternatively, you can visit your county’s planning and zoning office to gain a better understanding of local zoning ordinances. Additionally, residential covenants that dictate what every member of a community can or cannot do with their property can also affect the land you want to buy [source: Curry].

Utilities can also be a major factor that you should consider. Some lots already come with electricity and water, which can save you the hassle and expense of having to install them yourself. However, if no utilities are available, you may need to install a well, a septic system, or connect your property to your local utility company services.

Another aspect to consider is how the lot is accessed. If the lot is accessible via a public road, then there should be no complications. However, if there is no public road that provides direct access to the land, you may need an easement on a neighbor’s property to gain access. An easement grants you legal permission to use another person’s property. Nonetheless, you should always seek permission from the landowner before using their land for any reason, including running utilities across their property. If the landowner is amenable, establishing an easement should not be a problem, but it is still something to be mindful of.

Now that you have the knowledge to begin your search for a vacant lot, read on for information on what you should do once you have found the perfect lot.

Originally Published: Feb 23, 2011

FAQ for Choosing a Vacant Lot

What factors should I consider before purchasing land?

It’s important to know how the lot is accessed. If there is no public road directly connecting to the land, you may need an easement on a neighboring property to access it. Additionally, familiarize yourself with local zoning ordinances and residential covenants that may impact the land you’re interested in.

What should I know when buying a vacant lot?

One of the biggest decisions when buying a vacant lot is determining how much land you want to purchase. Lots can range from less than an acre to many dozens of acres. If you plan to build outside of an urban area, research the availability of utilities and existing infrastructure.

What can be built on vacant land?

The type of structures you can build on vacant land will depend on local zoning ordinances and residential covenants. Check with your county’s planning and zoning office for more information.

What does a vacant lot mean?

A vacant lot is a plot of land that can be owned and developed. It is essentially a blank slate for owners to build their own property from the ground up.

How much does land cost?

The cost of land varies greatly depending on location. According to USA Today, the average value of an acre of land in the least valuable state is $2,000, while in the most valuable state, an acre can go for 100 times more.

More Information Available

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  • How Real Estate Property Taxes Work
  • Fact or Fiction: Real Estate Agents
  • What does a county assessor do?
  • How Sewer and Septic Systems Work

Sources

  • Curry, Pat. “How to buy a vacant lot.” March 15, 2001.

    (Feb. 4, 2011).http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/mtg/20010315a.asp

  • dnr.wa.gov. “Public Land Survey Office Overview.” (Feb. 7, 2011).

    http://www.dnr.wa.gov/BusinessPermits/Topics/Surveys/Pages/eng_plso_overview.aspx

  • EDCGov.us. “Flood Zone Definitions.” (Feb. 6, 2011).

    http://www.edcgov.us/Planning/Flood_Zone_Definitions.aspx

  • GAassessors.com. “Georgia Tax Assessors.” (Feb. 10, 2011).

    http://gaassessors.com/c

  • GSCCCA.org. “Plat Index.” (Feb. 8, 2011).

    http://www.gsccca.org/Search/plat/platindex.asp

  • HomeClosing101.org. “Why You Need Title Insurance.” (Feb. 5, 2011).

    http://www.homeclosing101.org/whyneed.cfm

  • LandSurveyor.us. “How much does a survey cost?” (Feb 6, 2011).

    http://www.landsurveyor.us/learn_c1j.htm

  • LandSurveyor.us. “Types of Land Surveys.” (Feb. 5, 2011).

    http://www.landsurveyor.us/learn_b1.htm

  • LeslieAssociates.com. “FAQ – Land Surveying.” (Feb. 6, 2011).

    http://www.leslieassociates.com/FAQ%20Survey.htm

  • Lex-Co.com. “Subdivision Covenants and Deed Restrictions.” (Feb. 7, 2011).

    http://www.lex-co.com/departments/communitydevelopment/Documents/DeedRestrictionsHandout.pdf

  • Merriam-Webster. “Easement.” (Feb. 9, 2011).

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/easement

  • rminela. “The Advantages of Buying Land With Existing Utilities.” (Feb. 7, 2011).

    http://www.squidoo.com/buying-land

  • Schleiffarth, James. “Property Easement Agreements: Getting it Right.” (Feb. 7, 2011).

    http://www.realestatelawyers.com/resources/real-estate/land-use-and-zoning/property-easement.htm

  • Stewart.com. “The Value of Title Insurance.” (Feb. 5, 2011).

    http://www.stewart.com/why-title-insurance/the-value-of-title-insurance

  • TilsonHome.com. “Buying a lot.” (Feb. 7, 2011).

    http://www.tilsonhome.com/main.cfm?pagename=buyingLot

  • VacantLandInfo.com. “The Price of Land.” (Feb. 6, 2011).

    http://www.vacantlandinfo.com/thepriceofland.html

  • wisegeek.com. “What is a City Ordinance?” (Feb. 8, 2011).

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-city-ordinance.htm

  • wisegeek.com. “What is a Homeowner’s Association?”

    On February 6th, 2011, the website wisegeek.com published an article explaining what a homeowners association is. The article can be found at http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-homeowners-association.htm. On February 7th, 2011, the same website published another article defining what a subdivision is. This article can be accessed at http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-subdivision.htm. Both articles are informative and provide helpful information on their respective topics. It is important for homeowners and potential homebuyers to understand the roles and responsibilities of a homeowners association and the definition of a subdivision.

    FAQ

    1. What are the important factors to consider when choosing a vacant lot?

    When choosing a vacant lot, it is important to consider several factors such as location, size, shape, zoning regulations, soil quality, and accessibility. The location of the lot should be convenient for your daily activities and should be situated in a safe area. The size and shape of the lot should accommodate your needs and preferences, and should be suitable for the type of structure you plan to build. Zoning regulations should be checked to ensure that the intended use of the property is allowed. Soil quality should also be checked to determine if it is suitable for building and landscaping. Accessibility to essential amenities such as water, electricity, and transportation should also be considered.

    2. How can I determine the zoning regulations for a vacant lot?

    Zoning regulations can be determined by contacting the local government office or planning department in the area where the lot is located. The zoning regulations will determine what type of structures can be built on the lot, the height and size of the structures, and what activities can be conducted on the property. It is important to check the zoning regulations before purchasing a vacant lot to ensure that the intended use of the property is allowed. Failure to comply with the zoning regulations could result in fines or legal action.

    3. Should I have the soil quality tested before purchasing a vacant lot?

    Yes, it is recommended to have the soil quality tested before purchasing a vacant lot. Soil quality can affect the stability and safety of the structure to be built, as well as the health of any plants or vegetation that will be grown on the property. A soil test will determine the composition and pH level of the soil, as well as any contaminants that may be present. This information will help determine whether the soil is suitable for building and landscaping.

    4. What are the advantages of purchasing a corner lot?

    Corner lots offer several advantages over other types of lots. They provide greater visibility and exposure for the property, which can be advantageous for commercial or retail businesses. They also offer better access and parking options, as they typically have two street frontages. Additionally, corner lots often have larger setbacks, which can provide more space for landscaping or outdoor living areas.

    5. Can I build any type of structure on a vacant lot?

    No, the type of structure that can be built on a vacant lot is determined by the zoning regulations in the area. Zoning regulations specify what types of structures are allowed, as well as the size, height, and setback requirements. It is important to check the zoning regulations before purchasing a vacant lot to ensure that the intended use of the property is allowed. Failure to comply with the zoning regulations could result in fines or legal action.

    6. How can I ensure that a vacant lot is a good investment?

    Several factors can determine if a vacant lot is a good investment, such as location, zoning regulations, and market trends. A lot that is located in a desirable area with high demand for housing or commercial space is more likely to increase in value over time. Checking the zoning regulations to ensure that the intended use of the property is allowed can also help protect your investment. Additionally, researching market trends and consulting with a real estate professional can provide insight into the potential for appreciation in value and return on investment.

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