Five Things to Consider when Buying Land, plus a bonus

Not much has happened this week on the land front, but I’ve still continued to give it a lot of thought and continue researching–and I’m glad I did, because I ran across something that could be a dealbreaker on the parcel we’re looking at. So I figured I’d share some of what I’ve learned since we started this crazy land shopping thing.

  1. 5 Things to Consider when Buying LandYou might think that location is the first consideration when shopping for land. After all, much of real estate can be summed up by one word: “location, location, location.” But wait! It’s not so obvious when it’s not a house you’re buying. The first thing? What do you want to do with your land? Not everyone is looking to build right away–or at all. Vacant land can, in and of itself, be a good investment. Some people buy land purely for recreation–hunting, camping, and other outdoor pursuits. And even if you’re building, what are you building? Just a house? How big? Do you want to farm? Keep livestock? Hunt? Build a big barn (or in our case, a big workshop/garage)?
  2. Location. All of the above plays into the location question. One thing we learned once we met and talked to our Realtor was that we need to buy land that’s outside of city limits, since DH wants to hunt on it. There are also fewer restrictions on outbuildings. But we still want something that’s not too far from the city, as it’s also where we want to live.
  3. How much land do we need? The answer to this question is also determined by our answers to the first. If we only wanted to build a house, we wouldn’t need much. Add DH’s garage/workshop, and we need a little more. Keep us out of the neighbors’ faces (and cigarette smoke)? Add a couple more acres. But DH also wants to go deer hunting, so that ups it quite a bit. These past few years, he’s hunted on 40 acres my brother owns nearby, and he travels all over the land. He’d love for us to be able to get that much. But as little as 20 would work, and if we want something that’s not too far from civilization, is much more realistic for our budget. Speaking of which…
  4. Budget is a major consideration in its own right–perhaps it should even be #1, but that’s pretty obvious so I’ll consider this enough said on that topic. Here is a good article on how to determine budget–again, taking into consideration everything you want to do on the land, in addition to the land purchase itself. Don’t forget to factor in costs like connections to electricity, natural gas if applicable, water/sewer, and Internet, as they can be quite costly in some areas. Or if not available, how much will it cost to dig a well or have water trucked in, and how much to install a septic system?
  5. Which brings us to the next question: Who owns other rights to the land? As in mineral, water, timber rights, etc.? This is a biggie, and one a lot of people don’t think of. Many people don’t realize that when we buy property, we may be buying only the surface. If someone else owns the mineral rights, they may be able to dig for gold, oil, or anything else of value anywhere on your property that they want–even to the extent of destroying buildings! That’s not always the case, but if someone else owns these rights, be sure to understand what they can and can’t do. Is it something you can live with? And don’t think it’s something to worry about if your area’s not known for being gold- or oil-rich. In my area of the country (Ohio, and eventually, Tennessee) natural gas is the big thing. Water rights are another big concern, if you plan to drill a well. They may not matter so much if you have city water and don’t plan to farm, but still something to watch out for. And timber rights–do you want someone barging onto your land without your permission and chopping down your trees? If they own the logging rights, they can.

Plus a Bonus: Check into potential public works projects! This is something I hadn’t thought of until I ran across something on the Internet last week, and is the possible dealbreaker I found with the land we’re looking at. Turns out that until about three years ago, it was right in the path of a proposed highway spur! The local community fought it, and got the project defunded and ultimately removed from Tennessee’s list of potential projects. My research turned up a very good case presented by the opposition, enough that it’s a reasonable assumption that the highway will never happen. But it’s not 100%, so we’ve asked our Realtor to look into it further.

These aren’t by any means everything to consider when shopping for land, but they’re the biggest, IMO. Want some more info? Check out my Land Shopping board on Pinterest!

fireandiceWhat I’ve Been Reading: Fire and Ice, by Patty Jansen. This is actually the first book in a trilogy that’s a prequel to the two books I’ve recently read. I figured I’d grab it to read while I’m waiting for Book 3 in the Moonfire Trilogy. While it didn’t draw me in as quickly as the Moonfire books have, it still had all the qualities of those later stories: lush and deep worldbuilding, intriguing characters, and a complex plot where sometimes it’s hard to tell who are the good guys, and who aren’t. It’s free, so if you enjoy dark, epic fantasy, go grab it!

ROW80Logo175ROW80/Writing Update: Not much to tell here. I upped my daily target to 250 words/day, five days last week, and made that. This week I’d planned to go to 500 words/day, but got stuck on a plot point. I hashed it out with a couple writing friends yesterday, and that helped, at least in my mind. So this week’s goal is back to 500 words/day. We’ll see how that goes. The ROW80 Challenge group has moved to Facebook. Visit the Group page here, and see what everyone else is doing!

What about you–did you know there was so much involved in shopping for vacant land? What have you been reading lately? And whether or not you’re a writer, how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

7 Responses to \

  1. I had no idea there was so much to think about!

    Given that, it’s pretty amazing that you have energy left over for the writing. Brava for your untangled plot point, and may the words and purchasing flow more swiftly and smoothly this week.

  2. “And timber rights–do you want someone barging onto your land without your permission and chopping down your trees?” In California, where I came from, you needed a permit to chop down trees on your own property – even if you owned all the rights to said trees!!!! And, we owned our well, and our water rights; we paid for the well to be dug, paid for the pump, paid for the electricity to run the pump – the State wanted to come in and put meters on our wells!!!!

    Thus the move out of California. Ownership rights mean nothing any more so make sure you have a rock solid contract.

    Good points to remember and research.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. Stacy, me too!

    Shan, I really don’t have much energy–that’s why there’s not much writing. But thanks!

    Patricia, wow, I knew it was bad in California, but that’s ridiculous! There are some areas in TN where you need a permit to cut down trees, but mostly on TVA-adjacent lands (i.e., lakefront). Where we’re looking, you don’t. But you do need a permit to drill wells and just about everything else, as in Ohio. Which brings up another good point: check to see what permits you need and how much they cost!

  4. Jennette, my husband was a general contractor who built custom homes and light commercial for over 40 years. There are so many bureaucratic regulations out there it’s not even funny. You almost need to be a rocket scientist in order to get through the process. And the stress. If you thought remodeling your kitchen was stressful, then you can just imagine what it takes to build a home with outer structures. From the setbacks, running electric to the property, drilling for water and installing septic as you mention. And the list goes on, including the process of finding the right house plan. That said, obviously there are many who have built their own home. For those who have, the advantages outweighed the negative frustrations. But you must know, it is very stressful on a marriage. Rare is the case where a couple sees eye to eye or have the same tastes. There are many compromises that need to be made. And many are the couple that aren’t willing to make those important compromises. We’ve seen it all. But it doesn’t sound like you and hubby are walking into this blindly. You’re doing your homework ahead of time which is very wise. I wish you both success as you embark on this exciting new venture!

  5. So much to think about, Jennette! We’ve bought property twice now and built a home on it each time. The first time was easy b/c it was right in town. The second time was on an acreage and we ran into a surprise with the electricity. Fortunately, it was the only thing we hadn’t planned for.