Want to Own Land, but not sure where to start?
Avoid these common pitfalls and save yourself the aggravation
Do your homework and understand what you can and can’t do with the property you are going to invest. Save yourself the frustration of purchasing a property you can not use as intended. Research the area and the property and avoid wasting time, money and ultimately spoiling your dreams of land investing.
ZONING AND LAND USE
Check the zoning and land use codes are in alignment with your building goals. Is it agricultural, residential, commercial, or industrial zoned? A perfect example, a friend of mine acquired a piece of property that he wanted to park his RV on and live there affordably and peacefully. He was so excited and settled in on the property with his RV. All is going along just fine then after a few months on the property he receives a citation from building and safety saying he must vacate due to violation of zoning laws. Failure to ask the questions can lead to disappointing outcomes down the line.
What if you planned on having horses and agricultural livestock. Well if the property is not zoned agricultural and only residential well your dream of having horses or livestock would be in violation. Don’t let that happen to you. Know the zoning and it’s allowed uses.
Do your due diligence! Here’s how: Look up the County Planning and Zoning Department and speak to someone who can confirm your intentions. Give them the APN number of the property you are investing. Ask them ‘What if’ questions. Have a list before your call. What uses are allowed? Are animals allowed? If so, what types of animals? Are there maximum number of houses, horses, livestock allowed? Is there a time limit to build? What is the minimum home size? Are there any set-backs? I think you get the picture.
Are there any delinquent taxes due on the property? Past due property taxes are attached to the property not the owner’s title. So know before you make that investment. Confirm what is owed to the county tax collector. This is not a make or break scenario. It’s important to know how much your total investment will be at the end of the day. Make it a point of negotiation.
How to confirm what’s due. Some land wholesalers will provide the county information on the listing. If not, google the county and tax collector or tax treasurer in the county the property is located. Be prepared with Assessor Parcel Number (APN) or parcel ID number. Some websites will provide tax info but I always prefer to call them directly. This way you know you are receiving the most up-to-date information.
Important to note that if you find out there are past due property taxes on the parcel to ask the seller who is responsible for the payment. If the seller agrees to bring the taxes current then be sure to ask for proof of payment. You can also follow-up with the tax collector’s office to confirm payment.
By researching property taxes before you commit to invest you can save hundreds of dollars and provide peace of mind knowing before you commit.
#1: Is the property in a flood zone? Some county websites have GIS maps that show if property is in a flood zone. Using the APN number or owner information you can discover many important items using the GIS map. However, every counties GIS map offers different tools.
#2: Check if the area has any environmental clean up requriements. Call the county planner violations department to confirm there are no pending issues with the property. This is not typical for residential properties but still a good idea.
Other Important Questions
- Is there legal access to the property? Otherwise known as Ingress and Egress.
- Does the property have clear title? Are there any liens or encumbrances on the property title?
- Does the property have a Home Owners Association to consider? What are the annual dues? Is there an ownership transfer fee?
These and other questions will be answered in future emails. I hope you’ve found this series educational and increased your knowledge tool belt for future land investments. From time to time I offer special discounts to those on my PREFERRED BUYERS LIST. Keep watch and happy land scouting!
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