3 Things You Should Understand Before Buying Vacant Land
Rural land is appealing to more and more buyers in 2022. In fact, the National Association of Realtors reports that 54.6 percent of all inbound moves in 2021 were to rural areas. The pandemic taught Americans that working from home is doable and allows people to live anywhere. Rural land sales are quite different than suburban home buying, however. Working with an experienced land sales company that can guide you through the process is key to your success.
Whether you are buying land to build your dream house or just plan on using the space for hunting, you need to know if it perks. A perk test is a soil test done by a 3rd party that determines whether or not the soil will drain properly for a septic field. Sandy soil drains fast while clay soil drains slowly. If it doesn't perk, it does not mean that the land is unbuildable, however. Depending on how large the parcel is, you can test another area.
If a parcel simply does not perk, you can contact the local building department to discuss options for an engineered field. Engineered septic fields are more expensive, but they do help with drainage on difficult parcels.
It would be erroneous to think that buying a large parcel of vacant land gives you the right to simply build what and where you want on it. The fact of the matter is that even in rural areas the local government zones the land. In other words, they may want a portion of your land left untouched due to environmental factors like erosion control, migrating birds, and even conservation efforts. Furthermore, land that is zoned agricultural may or may not be allowed to be used for residential purposes. Make sure you work with a knowledgeable land sales company so that you understand local zoning before your purchase.
Financing a home in a suburban area is pretty straightforward. There are plenty of recent sales to use for comparables in determining a fair price and plenty of lenders willing to work with buyers. With rural land, however, your options are limited. Not only are there infrequent sales to use as comparables, but there are also fewer lenders willing to do business in rural parts of the country. You may be required to come up with a larger down payment or pay a higher interest rate. The one bright note is the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA. They manage a program called Rural Development that guarantees loans for both home and land purchases in rural areas.
Working with a land sales company can help you understand differences in financing programs and zoning so that you can be confident in your rural purchase.