By Skylar Ross
Many people mistakenly think that buying land is easy. Purchasing a home requires a series of obvious inspections to ensure that a house is up to code. But, many assume that buying land is a proverbial “blank canvas.” This notion leaves the buyer believing they are free to build and develop however they wish to fulfill their dreams.
The reality, though, is that buying land can be even more complex than buying a house. Therefore, it is important to go into the process with the right perspective. Consider the following pieces of advice before you begin working with a land broker.
A Land Broker is Not the Same As a Real Estate Agent
When exploring land for sale, many buyers will just assume that they can work with their standard real estate agent. While it is true that all land brokers are real estate agents, not all real estate agents are land brokers.
Land brokers are specialized real estate professionals who focus primarily on land transactions. In general, land brokers have a detailed understanding of what land is available and how it can be used. These land brokers represent everything from residential farms and ranches to commercial spaces for mining or business development.
Some key responsibilities of land brokers may include:
- Identifying land that can be developed or repurposed
- Understanding building permits required in a region
- Logistics behind getting power, Internet, and water to a piece of land
- Being aware of local zoning restrictionsInforming the buyer of any environmental concerns or wildlife protections
As you can see from this limited list, the responsibilities of a land broker are specialized and intensive. Therefore, relying on a real estate agent whose experience lies in marketing and facilitating the sale of ready-made homes can get you into some trouble. This is especially true if you are purchasing land with a bigger picture in mind. Either way, it is important to make sure the agent you choose is a certified land specialist.
There is a Reason the Land is For Sale
Land, like any finite resource, does tend to be a sound investment. However, you need to be very discerning when working with your land broker. Make sure he or she can answer all of your questions. The broker should also verify that the land you are looking at is a strong fit for your designs. After all, it would be interesting if the price of land was always appreciating. If this was true, it would seem that it would be rare for land to ever hit the market.
Really encourage your land broker to get a specific explanation for why the land is for sale. The following are some common reasons people choose to cut bait with their land:
- Getting water and other utilities to the property is more of a headache than it is worth
- Plans for a nearby business center fell through, killing demand for a prospective subdivision
- Government regulations inhibited the excavation of valuable resources on the property
Land Brokers Can Specialize in Different Areas
There are specific land brokers who specialize in different types of land transactions. For example, there is a higher likelihood that land brokers in the midwest will focus on farm and ranch transactions. While land brokers in rapidly-growing metropolises, such as Denver, are more likely to specialize in early development tracts. These tracts include subdivisions and lot wholesaling.
Therefore, when you start your search for land, have a clear purpose of how you intend to use it. Also, find a land broker who specializes in your area of need.
Buying land can be a sound investment that opens up a world of possibilities for the owner. However, it is not a completely risk-free endeavor as some are led to believe. As such, it is important to team up with a specialized land broker. This broker should dig deep into a piece of land’s potential prior to finalizing a purchase.
Skylar Ross is a writer for Land.us who specializes in topics related to land management, property investment, and real estate. He focuses on helping current and prospective landowners care for their land, discover investment opportunities, and be successful in land brokerage deals.