Advice When Buying Land

Robin Smith shares advice when buying land, including land buying tips on road access, water, easements, mineral rights, protecting your down payment, and community attitudes.

| July/August 1986

Buying land

It's impossible to overemphasize how terribly important access rights are. Be certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that permanent, legal, transferable access is specified in the deed.


Reprinted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 78. 

Don't let your enthusiasm for an "ideal" piece of property lead to costly mistakes when buying land.

Advice When Buying Land

Suppose, as you eagerly scan the classified real estate listings, you suddenly spot an ad that reads: "Forty acres, year-round creek, part wooded, part cleared, some marketable timber, south-facing slopes, $26,000, low down, low monthly payments." In such a case, it'd be quite natural to assume you'd found the buy of the decade.

So let's say you decide to take a look at the place profiled in that advertisement . . . and it turns out to be even better than you'd dreamed. Huge trees tower overhead, like a great green cathedral. You follow the creek downstream to find that it opens into a gorgeous meadow. Your heart is taken, and you're already starting to plan where you'll put the house and barn. This is the place, and—better yet—the price is right!

At this point, the owner or agent—seeing that you're sold on the parcel (after all, you've been just too excited to play "uninterested buyer" games)—asks you for either earnest money or a down payment. Well, you know the property is what you want, and you also figure that someone else is sure to buy it if you don't . . . so you prepare to shell out a big portion of your savings.

But wait . . . before you put up cash that you may not be able to recover later, let's examine the pitfalls possible in buying land—any piece of real estate, especially undeveloped land.

6/2/2014 2:03:12 PM

Great things to think about when purchasing land. My very first time buying land was horrible. I had know idea what I was doing. I was thinking all I had to do was purchase the land and start building. Wrong, I never considered checking into things like road access, type of ground underneath. If you are thinking about buying and selling land you should read this great blog and benefit from all the great tips and suggestions.

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