The Land Property Research Guide

Land Research 3

Before you buy your next land property, make sure you’ve done your research.


Just like with any real estate investment or decision, there are a number of factors that should be carefully considered when one is purchasing land. Looking into all these aspects before purchasing a property will help prevent problems from arising later. The great part is that with the right land contacts, it’s possible to research most of these details through phone and the internet.


Here’s our go-to guide for what you need to research before you buy a land property.



1. Review the property specs in detail


First things first: when buying land, make sure to research the essentials. Consider if the property has road access or a property easement. Look at the terrain slope, and the neighboring houses and communities around the property. Make sure you understand the tax situation of the current owner, as you may owe taxes on the property upon purchase. If there is a home owner’s association (HOA), prospective buyers will need to speak with them as well about potential fees.


Buyers also need to ask themselves what they intend to do with the property so they can ensure it meets their needs. They should call the county’s planning, zoning, and building departments in order to adequately research permitted land zoning uses.  Ryan Thewes, an experienced Nashville architect, says it never hurts to perform a perc test for building design, agricultural use, and septic systems. “Preliminary soil testing is recommended prior to purchase. Bringing in a professional such as an architect or builder during the land purchase stage will help evaluate and plan ahead of time.”


Land Research 1


2. Take a good look at the property’s utilities


Be sure to check and see if there are pre-existing utilities on the property. No electricity? A lack of utility lines can easily and quickly run up costs on a piece of property that one plans on inhabiting if an off-the-grid house isn’t on the agenda. No water? You may have to install a well on your property.


Ryan Thewes highlights a current situation in which his company is dealing with a sewer line that is too short.  “Our focus turns to either extending the sewer line down the busy street to our property or somehow tapping into it across other people’s property. Whatever the resolution is, it will be costly and is an unexpected addition to our project’s budget. Potentially a $35,000 addition. So the lesson and advice here is to make sure you have your property surveyed and utilities marked prior to purchasing property. That way you can get an idea of what it will take to build and account for those costs in your budget.”



3. Bear in mind the overall total cost


The total overall costs may include HOA charges and taxes, as David Reischer, Esq. at LegalAdvice.com, warns. “In my experience, as a real estate attorney that is very familiar with reviewing title reports, it is not uncommon to discover problems on a title report that need to be resolved prior or at closing. Oftentimes, liens need to be extinguished and proceeds from the sale or back taxes must be made.”


Land Research 2


4. Be sure the title is clear of any items that could become problematic


Securing a title report is another essential step to the land research process. David Reischer believes this is another important concern. “A title report will outline the extent of any ownership rights and detail any title defects. The title report assembles recorded matters associated with both the land and the parties to the transaction. As such, a title report will provide a description of the property, and any restrictions, claims or interests of other parties. It is important to review the title report for any liens or encumbrances. You will want to make sure you review the report for any judgment awards and back taxes due on the land.”


There are occasionally discrepancies between the property description as listed in the title and the actual estate itself, and these will need to be sorted out before the deal can be closed, so prospective land buyers should be aware of such situations as well.


Note that all of our properties on Land Rush Now are sold with Title Insurance!



5. Consider the current and future market conditions


Jeff Shaffer of McKinley Partners says, timing is key for investments. “Land markets are almost always in 1 of 2 states of being – buyers chasing the market up or sellers chasing the market down.  Buy at the bottom when others are full of fear and sell early on the way up.” Make sure to consider your short-term and long-term goals for the property. Do you intend to hold it? Sell it quickly? Understanding how your goals relate to market conditions can help you figure out the best time to buy and sell.


If you plan to live on your property in the future, take an advanced look at the area. Is the economy and population growing or contracting? How does the unemployment rate compare to the rest of the country? Is the area one of the best places for your family to retire?


At the end of the day, owning or investing in land is a truly rewarding experience, you just have to make sure to do your homework first! Check out our U.S. Land for Sale page to see all of our listings, each with many of the details needed to make an educated purchase. We’re always happy to help you get all the facts about any property you’re interested in.




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Photo Credit: Don McCullough, Moyan Brenn | flickr


[…] is a followup article by Landrush Now discussing the steps to take before purchasing […]

~Landrush Now - Ryan Thewes Architect Nashville, Tennessee

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