Buyers purchasing vacant land may take more risk than buyers of residential properties because there may be some significant surprises that could affect their future use or building costs.
Often, what we see is not what we get, and there may be some hidden issues. But the savvy buyer can be prepared by at least checking out these most important details:
Savvy buyers should check out all of the utility connections. The main connections may be water, sewer, electrical, natural gas and telecommunication. Some of these may be missing or they may be at a distance from the parcel, which could cause additional cost to bring to the building site. Savvy buyers closely check the title work. Section A of the title work will show any possible liens and other requirements for closing. Section B will show all of the recorded documents impacting the use and entitlements to the property. These include easements, leases, encroachments, recorded plats and information about the formation of a homeowners’ association that will probably include bylaws and CCRs, which are any covenants and restrictions on how the property can be used. Savvy buyers closely check the survey. First, buyers should make sure they have a recorded plat or a survey of the property. The actual survey may show the property to be different than what it appears to be on the county GIS. We recently saw a survey of a property that was purported by the public record to be 1¾ acres and it was actually 2½ acres. The survey will typically show the legal access, easements, encroachments, roads, fences, etc. on the property. Savvy buyers should check with city and county planning and building departments as well as the fire department. One of the most important confirmations is whether the property can be used as it has been marketed. City and county offices can also be a great resource to learn about past building issues, geologic hazards, oil and gas impacts and soil conditions. Fire departments have new regulations following the severe fires that have impacted Colorado in the past years. Buyers should also check with their insurance broker about costs to insure and restrictions for fire mitigation. Savvy buyers should have their builder and architect do a site assessment. Your builder and the architect will be able to provide insight on the best building sites and the potential cost impacts of the lot. The design team can also evaluate the site for ideas on positioning a home for solar gain and views.Don Ricedorff is a Realtor at The Wells Group in Durango, and a past president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors. He can be reached at email@example.com.