Land Purchase Considerations
If you are looking to purchase land, there are several important items to consider.
- What is the cost of the land? If I pay $1,000,000 for 10 acres to build a shopping center does that cost fit within my budget? Or is $500,000 the most I can pay and still have a profitable project?
- Does the location work for the intended use? For example if someone is trying to build a convenience store is the site in a high traffic area? Or if someone wants to build expensive homes is the location suitable for million dollar homes or is it too close to commercial uses?
- What jurisdiction is the land located in? The City Limits? Is it in the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) of the City? Is it in the County? The jurisdiction that the property is located in will dictate which rules and regulations need to be followed. It might be advantageous to be in a particular jurisdiction (City A vs City B) rather than another. There may also be state and federal laws that will impact the property as well.
- If the property is in the City, what is the zoning category assigned to the property? The zoning category dictates the land use allowed on the property. If a property doesn’t have zoning or if a zoning change is to be requested then that will add to the time and cost. Something to keep in mind is that zoning change requests are not always approved.
- Deed restrictions are private agreements and restrictions specific to the land in question. They are noted in the deed, and restrict the use of the real estate in some way. Deed restrictions can be attached to property whether it is zoned commercial or residential and are in addition to local, state and federal rules. Deed restrictions can be more restrictive than other governing rules.
- Have utilities been extended to the site? Utilities would include water, wastewater, electricity, natural gas, telephone, and cable television. Water is the most important. Water and wastewater are typically the most expensive utilities to extend to a property. There are other ways to get water service such as drilling a well or for wastewater constructing a septic system. However these solutions also involve ongoing maintenance and a limited lifespan.
- Is any portion of the property in a floodplain? If so then the build-able or develop-able area of the property will be reduced. This in turn typically will reduce the value of the property.
- What are the topographic conditions of the land? Is it flat or is there slope to the land? The more steep the slope the more it will cost to develop the land because of the necessary cutting and filling of the soil. In general flat land is preferred although a hillside location for a home or office can provide a very nice view.
- Is there roadway access to the property? If so is there an existing driveway and curb cut in place or will this have to be permitted and constructed? How likely is it that a permit can be obtained at this location or is there already a driveway nearby which might diminish the chances? Is the roadway in a state of disrepair? If so then what are the chances that the roadway will be repaired and how might this affect my planned use?
- An easement is a legal right to use another’s land for a specific purpose. Are there any easements on the property that might restrict or otherwise unduly affect my ability to improve the property? Examples of easements include public utility easements which allow utility providers to install and maintain utilities. Easements can also be the means of providing access to properties that do not otherwise have roadway frontage.
- A lien is an encumbrance on one person’s property to secure a debt the property owner owes to another person. Before purchasing property it is important to determine through the Title Search and Commitment process if there is an outstanding lien on the property. It is best to have the property owner take care of liens before the buyer closes on the property because it is easier to leverage a lien being released.