Buying land might appear a simple process where you like a property, sign the agreement, and make it yours. However, it isn’t that effortless, especially if you don’t have prior experience with buying.
The previous landowners might not reveal everything to you about the property, and in many cases, they are not obliged to tell you everything. Hence, it should be you who must ask every question about the property before investing your hard-earned money in it.
Here is a list of the 10 most important questions that you must ask the previous landowners about the property to make the right investment.
1. Is the Land Under Any Conservation Easements?
If a given land falls under certain conservation easements, you won’t be able to plant or cut trees or hunt in it to conserve natural resources. These rules are certainly beneficial for the environment, but they restrict your land use. Therefore, it is a fundamental question that you should ask the seller before showing interest in any piece of land.
If the land is under such conservation rules, ask your seller how much of the land you can actually use. Likewise, don’t forget to ask about how the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) affects your water usage in the area.
2. What are the Taxes on the Property?
All counties and states in the US have different rules about land tax breaks. For example, Albemarle County land-use rules state that “Land used for horticulture use must consist of a minimum of five acres and must meet prescribed standards for bona fide production for sale of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and/or ornamental products.”
If your dream property is already in some land-use, it might qualify for tax breaks and cause you unwanted trouble.
3. Will You Get Access to Electricity/Wi-Fi Everywhere on the Property?
You’ll be surprised to know, but it’s pretty common that properties have some ‘dead’ network zones where you can’t use electricity or WiFi facilities. So even if the property has access to a powerline, you won’t be able to use these services. Hence, it is essential if you ask beforehand.
4. How Does the Water Drain and Sewage System works in the Property?
Water drainage can affect many things once you own the property, such as the plantation of your crops, your land use, and others. It can make your property dry soon or stay wet throughout the year. And finally, it can affect your home’s foundation and even cause permanent damage, moisture, and growth of molds in your home.
So, ask your landowners if there’s a primary water connection or a well and how the drainage works. Similarly, the sewerage system will define the further costs of the land.
5. Are there some rights and titles included with the property?
Rights and titles are specific advantages that you gain after owning the property—for example, road access rights, mineral and development rights, and so on.
Rights and especially titles are transferred from sellers to buyers when signing the agreement and can be painstakingly complex in nature. Hence, it is important that you hire a title attorney if there are such rights in the property you are buying.
6. Are There Any Environmental Hazards You Should Be Aware of?
Property sellers often don’t disclose environmental hazards to sell their property at higher rates. However, these hazards can cause a lot of trouble for the new owners, and you must inspect the property for any such hazards.
For example, there might be a toxic runoff on the water, any leak in underground pipelines that can contaminate soil or some harsh chemicals kept by the previous owners. Such elements can be hazardous for your health as well as for the conditions of your land.
So, before you buy the land, check thoroughly for such hazards and ask the previous owners about such environmental issues.
7. Has the Soil Been Tested?
If you buy land, especially for farming or living purposes, then ask about previous soil tests or get the soil tested yourself. For example, the land could be contaminated with chemicals, be on a floodplain, have a rocky terrain that resists digging the foundation, etc.
Likewise, soil percolation rates tell you about the water absorption capacity of the land, and you must get the soil tested by a soil scientist to get details of the topography and type of the soil.
8. How is the land reached or do you have access rights?
Accessibility is one of the most important aspects of a property. Therefore, you must inquire if the land has good access to the public highway or what access is there to the land for you, including vehicle access.
Usually, there are two ways to access a property, i.e., the main frontage road and a deeded access or a shared driveway.
Deeded access is a two-party access system in which the landowner, i.e. you and your neighbor, have an agreement about the utilization of the way. So, if your new property has some deeded access with your neighbors, it is necessary that you talk with your neighbor and examine everything about it.
9. Are there clear boundaries of the property?
Boundaries are another important question you should ask your sellers regarding the land. For example, you may plant a tree in the near future that might reach a land not yours, and it can result in an unwanted lawsuit and legal troubles. That’s why you should be well perfectly assured about your land’s limitations.
10. Ask about nearby properties.
If you are interested in a property, make sure you become aware of its surroundings as well. For example, inquire about forthcoming proposals or developments in the adjacent properties, the neighborhood’s lifestyle, crime rates in the area, legal disputes of your landowners and adjoining neighbors, etc.
Also, if you’re going to make a home on the property, it is essential to inquire about future developments in the neighborhood. For example, you might buy the land for its peaceful and green vicinity, but once you shift to your new home, your neighbors might construct something that you don’t prefer, like a loud fitness studio or something.