How to Buy Land to Build a House

Geology reports help you evaluate potential building sites.

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The land under your new home is as important as the architectural plans to build the house. Homeowners look for water views, parcels of an acre or more, views of mountains or space for separate garages, swimming pools or workshops. Taking the time to thoroughly research land options helps you make a sound decision for the landscape for your new house.

Step 1

Determine the type of county and local services you need for your property. City water and sewers offer convenience and ease in use, but the services also require monthly fees and significant costs for connection to your new home.

Step 2

Determine the approximate square footage for your new house. This figure helps you find a parcel large enough for your house and the space required by local regulations between your house and neighbors.

Step 3

Obtain copies of county and zoning maps from the county planning, zoning or development department or bureaus. Some counties and municipalities offer free downloads of these maps online.

Step 4

Identify areas zoned for residential development and the types of city or county services offered at the property. Identify areas with existing natural gas, electricity, cable, landline, water and sewer services. Call area utilities to ask about services when maps fail to list these items.

Step 5

Match the service areas for gas, electric, cable, landline, water and sewer with your personal needs. If you want city water, for instance, locate the geographic areas served by the city system and the boundaries of the services.

Step 6

Narrow the property choices to residential areas meeting other personal requirements and mark these on your maps. These requirements may include proximity to your work or schools or other important preferences, such as avoiding locations near railroad tracks, airports, freeways, high-tension electric wires or waste landfills.

Step 7

Research potential residential sites by driving by the properties and planned community building developments and by using Google Earth to view the properties and the surrounding geographic areas.

Step 8

Contact area property owners using the county tax records available online or at the local assessor's office to find interested land sellers if you fail to find a property located in building development project. Contact a real estate agent with special training and experience in land sales to review available properties if you don't feel comfortable handling your own solicitation.

Step 9

Select several target properties from the available land meeting your preferences and individual requirements.

Step 10

Discuss the building possibilities for the properties and potential problems with the land with your architect and builder to narrow your selection to the best property from the preliminary group.

Step 11

Conduct tests on the property to determine the suitability of on-site services for your new house. Percolation and well water tests done by licensed professionals provide information for septic and water systems.

Step 12

Research comparable area land sales to determine a reasonable sale price for the selected land parcel. Search the sales around your property using county tax records to arrive at a fair offer. Contact a real estate agent with experience in land sales and access to comparable sales if you don't have time to conduct the search.

Step 13

Obtain a title report for the land to determine the chain of legal ownership by paying a title company for the research report.

Step 14

Write an offer on the land with a real estate agent or by creating a sales contract for the property. Use the information from your comparable sales research of recent sales to determine an offer.

Step 15

Locate a qualified escrow and title company or an attorney to serve as the neutral party to hold sales funds and to handle the paperwork for your property transaction.

Step 16

Open escrow on the property with your escrow office or your attorney and submit a good faith deposit to buy the land.