Checklist-for-Buying-LandWith spring here, I thought it was a good time to talk about some of things to look for when buying vacant land. First  you need to determine what you plan on using the land for – both short term and long term.  Perhaps right now you want to use it for recreation. Drop off an RV and enjoy some wholesome family fun, camping, hunting and fishing. What about 10 years from now? Maybe you’ll want to build a little retirement cabin by the lake. Whether you’re able to do that depends on how well you do your homework now.

Here are a few things that you need to consider before buying vacant land. This is in no way a complete list but it is a good start.

Access Does the property have adequate road frontage? Is the road county maintained (i.e. plowed and repaired)? Private roads may be inaccessible in the winter and wet seasons. Also keep in mind that if the property in on a private road with no maintenance agreement, you will have a difficult time getting  a building loan and homeowners insurance since emergency vehicles can not access the property. At minimum, you will need a deeded right of way to access your property. Stay away from landlocked parcels. Even through you can not legally be prevented from accessing your property across a neighboring parcel, that doesn’t mean that you can drive your car or build a driveway across your neighbors property.

ZoningWhat can you do with the property? Contact the municipality’s code enforcement officer and ask the following questions.What is the minimum lot size to build? If the parcel is smaller than current minimum standards, is it grandfathered in as a pre-existing, non-conforming parcel? Can I build a single-family house on this property? 2-family? cabin? Are mobile homes permitted? Are campers/RVs permitted? What are the setbacks (front, rear & sides)? Is the property in the water/sewer district?  Ask question’s specific  to your situation such as, can I keep horses there, can the property be farmed? I have always found these code enforcement officers  very willing to help. Most municipalities in upstate NY publish their zoning regulations online. Just google ‘town name’ ‘state name’ + zoning, to find a downloadable zoning file.

Services When I say services, I mean,  can the property support basic living needs such as power, water, sewer, phone, Internet and cell phone service. Sometimes talking to neighbors can provide the answers. Other things to find out. Where is the closest power line? Is the property in the water/sewer district or do I need to dig a well and install a septic system. Has the property had a recent perc test to determine if a septic system is viable. In N.Y.S., the board of health prohibits your well and septic system from being within 100 ft of each other. And your septic system can’t be within  100 ft of any neighboring wells. Also keep in mind that septic systems are usually prohibited from being installed within 100 ft of any wetlands or water sources. Check with local authorities for exact restrictions.

Check for Other Restrictions & Covenants  – Just because the municipality permits certain property rights such a building, sub-dividing or hunting, doesn’t mean that you granted these rights. You need to check the deed and other recorded documents to see if there are further restrictions that ‘go with the land’. The town may allow mobile homes but it may be specifically restricted in the deed. I once purchased a 10 acre parcel whose deed restricted firearm hunting on the property (among other things).

The bottom line is that you need to do your homework before buying land. You don’t want to find out after the fact that you can’t use your land as you intended.






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Info sent. Thanks.
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Hi,may I please have some more information about this property and the laws associated with it as well as what needs to happen to mo
Hi, this is a perfect for for my actual needs. May I have more information on this property please? Need to move asap. Thank you.
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