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Questions to Ask When Buying Raw Land

Get Answers to These Questions Before You Buy Undeveloped Land

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Every piece of land differs, and real-estate transactions will vary based on different locations, property uses and individual buyer and seller circumstances. Here is a checklist of useful questions to pose to a seller or seller's representative when looking at a specific piece of raw land or property.

We hope this helps you get the full lay of the land, so to speak, but please note that this checklist is intended as a general guide rather than exhaustive outline. Consult with a qualified land professional to assure you are getting the right information and advice for your land or property purchase.

  • What are the access rights on the property? For example, does the land offer legal access to a public road or is access provided via an existing deeded easement?
  • Is this land or property served by existing utilities like electricity, sewage, water? Are any wells or septic systems installed on the property?
  • Has the land been surveyed recently? Are the boundary lines painted or marked?
  • Who are the adjoining neighbors? Are you aware of any current property line disputes with neighboring landowners?
  • Do any mineral rights such as for timber, water or gas convey with the sale of this property?
  • Are there existing easements in place on the property, including for conservation, utilities, access or adjoining owners?
  • Are there any known environmental issues with the property? Have the current owners received notice from any government entities about future assessments that would affect this property?
  • How is the property zoned? What are permitted uses or special exceptions for this piece of land? (This is also a question that can be asked of the local government or municipality where the property is located.)
  • Is the property governed under the terms of a Homeowners Association? If so, what restrictions apply to future development of this land of property?
  • Are you aware of any development proposal for any adjoining land or properties?
  • Are there existing tenant or lease obligations to others on the property?
  • What are annual property tax obligations for the land or property?
  • Why is the property owner selling this particular property? (Please note, the seller or seller's representative is not required to disclose this information, but it doesn't hurt to ask.)
  • Is the seller offering financing on the property?
  • How soon can the seller close on the transaction?
  • Does the property include any water features such as lakes, rivers, springs or ponds? What about internal access routes such as fire roads, trails or pathways?
  • Where are the nearest public access lakes or waterways? What are the closest public lands (i.e. state or national forest, state or national park, BLM land)?
  • Do any property improvements not convey with the sale (e.g. fencing, outbuildings, gates)?
  • Will my purchase of this land or property include a fee simple General Warranty deed?
  • Am I able to obtain clear title to the property with title insurance?
  • What is the quality and value of timber on the property (e.g. types of timber, age of trees, planted or natural species)? Where are the nearest timber mills and outlets? Is any of the current timber stock sellable?

The above questions should help you get an idea of a property's existing state as well as future potential. In addition, of course, there will be many questions that may relate to various state and local conditions and regulations that should be fully discussed with the seller.

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