If you're thinking of buying a plot of land that's outside an urban or suburban zone, you may have dreamed of building a little cabin or even keeping the land open so you and your family can camp whenever you want to. However, buying open land isn't just a matter of forking over some money. You have to choose the right plot of land, and that takes some searching and thinking. Consider these five things when looking at open land to see if you're really in the right spot.
When you agree to buy land, you have to know exactly what you're buying. Are you buying just the surface rights or the mineral rights as well? In many cases, the surface rights -- the right to use the surface and the first few inches of soil -- have been separated from the mineral rights -- the right to control any oil, gas, or other natural resources under the surface. Someone else could own the mineral rights to the land you're buying and make plans for those resources without your input. This means that if you buy the surface rights only, a drilling company could show up one day and set up operations on your land whether you want them to or not, and you wouldn't get any money. Try to look for land where you're getting both the surface and mineral rights.
What's Next Door
You may have a heck of a view off the back edge of your property now -- but what's planned for that other land later on? Many developers buy and hold onto land, and landholders often simply sell what they own to developers, and that means you could end up with a large residential or commercial development next to your property. Your tranquil land could then be on the edge of a busy road and growing bedroom community. As people demand more housing, this sudden appearance of construction is a real risk. Always find out what is planned for the land adjacent to the plot you're trying to buy.
You must check that the land you're buying is not prone to floods, does not have unstable sections that could collapse, and so on. Buying land doesn't do you any good if the land is too dangerous to live on. Even if the risk is just that a wildfire could come through, that's something to consider, especially if you're far from emergency services like fire stations. While no land is completely risk-free, do your best to find land that isn't very high-risk.
Where's the Water
Unless you're planning to keep the land completely undeveloped and uninhabited, you have to have access to water. This could be through the extension of city services, a well, or a nearby stream or river. But if there's no water, and well companies can't find potential well sources when they survey the land, you need to be extra cautious about purchasing that plot.
Policing Your Boundaries
If you're looking at rural land, see if you can find out what hiking and camping in the area are like. A large plot of land is difficult to police; people can cut through fences, for example, and hide in a remote corner of the property. You'll have to come up with a plan to mark off and secure the boundaries of the property if you don't want people trespassing.
Buying real estate can be a great investment if you find the right place. A real estate agent who specializes in open land can help you find out all the information you need so that you can make a safe, informed decision before purchasing a particular plot.