Buying land is radically different from buying a house, a condominium, an apartment or a townhouse. However, many of the same considerations apply. Not exactly the same, however. Buying land isn’t as simple as some might think – while in a house, the land it’s on is already guaranteed to be good enough to bear a house, when buying raw land there are an incredible amount of complicated things to consider before you actually make your purchase.
These things all depend on the land you’re buying – because not one parcel of land is never the same as another. If you’re planning to buy a piece of land – either to go ahead and build an entire house on your own, or to start a business, or even to simply invest in the land – it’s important to know what you’re doing first. So, to begin with, you have to start where everyone else starts:
Do Your Homework:
Right off the bat, you need to do your homework on the piece of land you’re planning to buy. Buying land is a bit of a different ball game from buying property – if you’re in the market for land, chances are that all the land in the area that’s attractive and available for sale is already what your shortlist is composed of. So once you’ve compiled what you can actually grab, it’s really just time to research.
If you are confused about what options you’ve actually got when it comes to buying land, however, then it may be high time to grab the help of a professional. Asking a fellow land investor for tips, or going online to find land for sale (w/o construction) on directory websites like DDProperty will help you quickly find what you may be looking for – although you won’t be able to narrow your choice down immediate (and in fact, you shouldn’t, as it’s always better to keep your options open), an experienced land investor can help guide you to what you’re looking for. Once you’ve found, the fun begins.
- Consider the location. We’ve all heard the term, “location, location, location”. In land more than anywhere else, it’s incredibly applicable. For one, is the land you’re buying in an attractive locale, so to speak? Does it have access to roads or a highway, or is it entirely landlocked? Is it a lot in the inner city, or further out by the country? Is it near a creek, or some other body of water? Or on the downside, is it anywhere near a railroad? Is it near an area that is often flooded, or susceptible to landslides? According to the Department of Mineral Resources, these are a major source of concern, especially in Thailand.
- Get the soil and ground tested. If you plan to plant or build on the land you’re buying, you’ll want to know what kind of ground you’re dealing with. A professional lab can check a soil sample and let you know if its pH is too high or too low to work with, as well as analyzing the soil for common contaminants from a nearby industrial plant, or possibly high levels of heavy metals. For planting, for example, having a pH of 6.5 (with 7 being neutral) is alright for most crops, while acid-loving shrubs like blueberry and azalea like a pH of 5-4, according to Fine Gardening. Additionally, before you go ahead and okay the soil, you’ll also want to ask yourself what the soil’s percolation rate is at. Whether you plan to build a farm or a home, soil percolation is important. It’s the rate at which water seeps through the ground, deeper into the soil, until it gets completely filtered and enters some form of underground spring or reservoir. That’s where a “perk test” comes in. If water doesn’t filter through the soil at an appropriate rate, you won’t be able to build a septic system underneath your home, for example (and you won’t be able to tap into the local public septic system either, if it’s available).
- Understand what kind of infrastructure you’re dealing with. Is there any available infrastructure already present on the land? Does it come with access to basic utilities such as gas, fresh clean water, sewage disposal and even electricity? If not, then consider that you’ll have to work with the local water and power utility companies to get yourself hooked up to their grid. Alternatively, you will have to run your own water pump (provided the land has a spring), and power any possible property through generators and alternative energy.
Grab the Topography and Planning
If your newfound land is near the city, chances are that it’s already been incorporated into a city or town plan. In that case, there may be specific laws in accordance to which the land is restricted. Meaning, you may not be able to build on it – or at least, not build specific things on it – unless explicitly allowed as per the local government.
Additionally, nature may work against you. If a specific parcel of land is topographically challenging, you’re unlikely to find a way to build anything on it. Who wants to lay the foundations for a house on an 80-degree hill, anyways?
Contact Your Local Government for Planning and Zoning
As per the previous point, remember to contact the local government and ask them for a plan for the land. While they may have restrictions in-place, they probably also have other information that you won’t have to pay twice to get. In some cases, you can order an environmental survey of the land you’re planning to buy in order to get a detailed review of what kind of contaminants it contains, and you’ll be able to get someone from the local government to let you in on what the best usage for the land might be.
List Your Possible Costs
Buying land leads to more costs than just, well, buying land. There are copious taxes to consider, the cost of laying infrastructure, permits for both/either homes and/or businesses, phone and Internet services, etc.
Utilities are particularly troublesome. Not only does laying cable, building piping, and so on all cost a lot of money, there’s also the trenching, the digging and location of a water source, and more. Getting a professional opinion on how much any given property might cost you is the best way to build a proper pros and cons list once the time to compare costs arrives.
Visit and Inspect the Property
Finally, once you’ve considered your costs and all the possibilities you’ve got when it comes to making your purchasing decision, the final thing to do is to visit the properties and inspect them yourself. Where do you see yourself – and the land – in a few years? What plans do you have? Do you simply want to invest in the land, and hope that as the years go by, the value of it will increase as infrastructure and housing is built in the surrounding areas?
Whatever your plan may be, buying land is always a tricky and risky business. But if you’re careful enough and do your research properly, you’ll always find a way to turn a good piece of land into a profitable and beautiful legacy for yourself and your family, financially and as a possible home.