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What We Learned - Buying Raw Land

This might be the number one question I get across the board. What to look for and what we have learned about buying raw land.

This is the quick and easy checklist that I put together when helping clients buy land and when making our own land buying decisions.


1. Proximity – How far do you want to be from the nearest grocery store, shopping or dining options? My personal preference is 20 mins tops. This will help you narrow down your area search,

2. Trees (Clearing or Planting) - Some people will say they love a heavily wooded area with lots of trees and privacy. Something you may not take into consideration is the cost it will take to clear some of those trees out to build a house and put a driveway in. You have to consider the cost of renting a dozer, getting it hauled out to the location and back, and paying for a dozer operator to run the dozer. This cost can add up quickly. A gravel road can cost anywhere from $20K - $100K. And clearing can cost about the same, it depends how much the dozer operator charges per hour. Same goes for a property that doesn't have enough trees. You have the cost and time of getting those trees planted and the time it takes to grow.

3. Flood zone - Are you comfortable with a flood zone property? If so, take into consideration the cost of having flood insurance and the risk of it being harder to resale. But also open your mind to the possibility of having a small area of the land that is flood zone and still has a high and dry area to build on.

4. Oil and gas activity on the property or around it- How do you feel about oil and gas operations? Are you for them or against them? Making sure that a property does or does not have oil and gas activity on it is something you want to watch for. In my past career I was in Oil and Gas and understood how things worked and the safety precautions they have to take so I feel ok with it. However, many of my clients do not. But also checking the surrounding properties for activity. You may be at the property one day and you cannot hear your neighbors compressor from their well because it could be off. Go back at a different time and the low rumble may be a deal killer for you. Make sure you're hiring a Realtor that understands oil and gas fully. I know a gal that specializes in this! ;) (me!)

5. Water well & Electricity - If you can find a property that has one or the other or both, you will save so much money. If you have to put those things on there, it gets costly, call me and we can discuss the exact numbers. I always like to look for a nearby power pole that I know I can stretch the wires from and save money. You will be paying for the electric company to come out and paying for each pole they have to put up to get over to your building site.

6. Good building spot - Choosing your building spot is crucial. The main things I like to think about are, how long of a driveway will I need to get to my building spot? Because, again, you will have to rent a dozer, hire someone to run it and pay for the gravel as well as rolling it. The views are important, as well as how level the ground is and how much excavation you will have to do. All of these components can cost a lot.

7. Proximity to a major highway - I like being no more than 20 mins from a major highway to make sure that I can get to major cities with ease. This is especially important if you are commuting. I don't want to be right next to one because of the noise.

8. Maintained Road - I like a well maintained road in front of my house. I don't like pot holes and I choose to find properties that are well maintained by the county. I think this also helps with resale. Something else to keep in mind when buying properties with easements or private roads, they can be a turn off for many buyers.

9. AG exempt or not - Is the property Agriculture exempt or wildlife exempt? If not, you will be paying almost triple in property taxes. If it is Ag exempt and you are nervous about how you will keep that. There are plenty of ways to get the ag exemption. You will have to check with you county, but for Washington county there are so many options depending on the size of your land. You can easily hire out people to do the maintenance for you. For example, have a bee keeper put bee boxes on your land and maintain them. Have someone lease your land to run cattle or even have someone bail hay on your property. Trust me, its worth hunting for land that has ag exemption.

10. Regulations & Restrictions - I prefer looking for land outside of the city limits and the ETJ because they have less regulations and the only permit you have to pull is for the septic. It's still wise to follow all building codes. Also, consider the Deed Restrictions. If you're buying the land to run an airbnb or short term rental, make certain the deed restrictions allow it. Also, if you plan to build a barndo on it, make sure that you don't have to have a certain building material. Lastly, some rural communities still have HOA's so make sure that if it does you are following the guidelines and know the annual fees.

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