We talked about Zoning requirements, location and Financing on the first part so today we look at road access, etxra costs involved when buying land and why you need to a Surveyor on speed dial if you are interested in the real estate business.
Think about Road Access
Road access might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s a surprisingly complex issue when you’re purchasing a vacant piece of land. In urban areas, it’s rarely a problem — but in the countryside, rural land for sale could potentially be cut off from a major road and be available only via private access points. This can introduce a number of other problems. If land isn’t accessible via public roadways, it also might not have access to local council water or sewage system. You could end up requiring a septic system and a borehole to handle those basic utilities, which will add to the construction costs.
More important, however, is the issue of access. A public road obviously guarantees a route to a vacant lot at all times. But when private roads enter into the equation, things get complicated. If your property is landlocked, the typical solution is to arrange with a neighbour for guaranteed access via a private road through their land by establishing an easement.
There will be Ordinances and Covenants
Land destined to be built on or sold is typically carved up into smaller parcels that make up subdivisions. The land in a subdivision likely already has some restrictions placed upon it that you’ll want to know about before buying.
On a more general level, subdivisions will have covenants in place that lay down specific rules for the use of the property in question. These covenants, or deed restrictions, are private agreements between the landowner and the buyer, which is what separates them from the zoning restrictions.
Within city limits, you may also be held to city ordinances that govern specific behaviours or land uses, such as the way you handle garbage removal etc.
All those restrictions may sound like a real headache. They can be — but they can also be a blessing. After all, the rules apply to everyone else, too. If you find a piece of land you like with covenants you can live with, you’ll know everyone else in the area is bound to the same standards.
You should Know the Costs Involved
Real estate is an investment of time and money — and the more time you spend preparing, the more ready you’ll be to spend your money wisely. What kind of expenses can you expect to incur when buying a vacant lot?
A potential cost to consider is land surveying. It’s possible you won’t need a survey done on land you’re interested in buying.
The land could have been recently surveyed, and with a little legwork, you should be able to find out if and when a survey’s been done. However, keep in mind that you may need to hire a professional surveyor to chart out the boundaries of your property. Because surveys vary based on location and a host of other factors, it’s hard to give a general estimate of how much one will cost. (Please feel free to contact us for recommendations of good surveyors we have worked with.)
Other probable extra costs will be requirements such as legal fees, transfer fees, district board fees, stamp duty tax e.t.c. Find out from your realtor or seller who will be required to cover these inevitable costs
Finally, remember that utilities and building costs will be expensive. In some cases, you may have to pay to have electricity and water run to your house before you even begin monthly bills. On some land, you’ll have to drill a borehole or install a septic system alongside home construction. If you’re buying a piece of land as an investment, you’ll bypass quite a few of those headaches.
When you look at property boundaries on a map (in real estate, often called a plat) it won’t be immediately evident how those boundaries line up with the land itself. That’s where surveying comes in. Professional surveyors research your property and use a plat to determine and mark the exact property boundaries of your vacant land. When you look into buying a piece of property, it’s possible a survey has been done recently. The evidence of a survey should be visible on the property with markers/beacons identifying the corner boundaries. You may even come across evidence of a survey when investigating the paperwork of a vacant land yourself.
Even if a survey’s been done, it could be old and outdated. Getting a new survey will clearly define your property line and that is quite important when you delve into legal matters like easements.
The cost of a survey will hinge on some factors: the size of your property, the amount of time it takes to complete the survey and how much research the surveyor has to do to with plats.