Buying a lot to build on is something many families dream of. For most, it’s about having space and privacy to roam, play, and create memories. But before you go writing any offers on these sought-after properties, it’s important to ask a few questions first. 

What school district is your lot in?

With any move you will likely encounter a change in school districts. For some this is a really big deal and is the driving force between moving here or there.

Since most acreages are on the outskirts of large towns or within very small towns you should expect to have to make a tough decision regarding what type of school system your children will be enrolled in. 

The allure of small town schools is very real for some families and not for others.

If your heart is set on a particular piece of property that’s not in your preferred school district, make a few phone calls to see if open enrollment is an option. 

Where is the nearest bus stop?

Acreage properties offer lots of space and privacy from nearby neighbors. With that space and privacy comes a few drawbacks. One of them being proximity to a school bus stop.

It’s easy to take for granted how many stops there are in town, but when you’re out in the country, they are few and far between. Before you commit to the land of your dreams, do some research into how far your kiddos will be required to walk and wait for the bus each morning. 

buying a lot to build on

How far is your commute?

Moving to a small town or the outskirts of a large town will take you farther away from the hustle and bustle of city living. That may be the ultimate goal in purchasing an acreage; however, it’s important to consider just how much commuting you’ll be adding onto your already busy schedule. 

I’m not just referring to proximity to work, but also where sporting events are, daycare drop offs, grocery stores, and other spots your family frequents the most.

Do yourself a favor and list out the average day or week in terms of errands, drop offs, pick ups, etc. and see just how many miles and minutes you’re adding to your current schedule. 

Is your lot on well & septic or city water?

Moving away from city limits will almost always mean that you’ll be switching from city water and sewer to a private or shared well and septic situation.

Sometimes the well is yours, sometimes it’s shared. And sometimes that shared well is on your property or a neighbor’s property. All such purchases that are financed by a bank will require you to know what type of system is in place, where they are located, and if they’re in compliance and working order.

Because the cost to update or repair these systems is substantial, it’s important to take into account if it’s something you really want to deal with. 

buying a lot to build on

How is internet connectivity? 

We all depend heavily on a strong internet connection. Take a moment to ask the sellers what internet provider services the home and how the speeds are. This is especially important if you work from home. 

What is the health of the trees?

Being surrounded by lush greenery and thick forest trees is a fantastic environment to live in. But what you see isn’t always what you get when it comes to acreages.

When you’re buying a lot to build on, be sure to ask if they’ve ever had or do have diseased trees on the property. The removal of an infected tree isn’t always optional and it’s never cheap. Skipping this exploratory step would be a mistake.

This type of information is now included on seller disclosures. Even so, some sellers haven’t had their trees tested in years, if at all. Have an arborist inspect or test any species of trees that are susceptible to infections. 

Are there covenants to worry about?

Buying a lot to build on means laying down claim and spreading your wings on a large acreage. It’s an awesome dream for many, but if you have specific plans for additional improvements you must do additional research before purchasing the property.

There are rules in place for subdivisions and townships that can and will be enforced. These may directly affect your use and enjoyment of said property. 

If you’re purchasing acreage, you may have your heart set on a huge outbuilding. Before adding another structure to your land it’s vital that you read through the covenants first. Then you can make a call to the city or township to get your ideas approved. 

buying a lot to build on

What are trash and recycling options?

This may sound crazy, but some acreages are just too far out of city limits for some trash companies to service.

If the density of homes in the area is too low, it’s likely that your options for trash and recycling services will be limited.

If this is the case, you may be responsible for bringing your trash and recycling into town for proper disposal. 

Do you have the time to maintain the lot?

The idea of owning land is wonderful but what’s not so wonderful is the staggering amount of time it takes to keep up with the maintenance of a large property.

Mowing and raking is just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on how large your property is or what’s on it, you could be in for many, many weekend and evening hours of yard work, which you thought would be spent porch sitting and playing. 

Are the sellers willing to sell any equipment/tools?

Buying a lot to build on means you’re going to need lots of equipment to maintain a large property. Chances are good that the sellers may be moving back into town and won’t need the equipment they currently have.

I’d recommend asking them if they’re willing to sell any of it, but leave it out of the actual purchase contract.

Sometimes adding too much personal property to a purchase contract can cause issues with appraisals. Most of the time a separate contract and personal check will do the trick. 

I hope this has opened your eyes to a few things you may have overlooked and that you find and buy a lot to build on with confidence. 

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