“I just got wonderful news from my real estate agent in Florida. They found land on my property.” — Milton Berle, circa 1950
It is not illegal to sell an unbuildable lot – or a lot not suited to your use. For example, the lot may be approved for a two-bedroom home and you may want to build four bedrooms. First and foremost, you need to determine if the lot you are considering can be used as you envision.
The laws about what can and cannot be built on a piece of land vary enormously from area to area. However, in general, you can expect more restrictions, more complex permitting, and higher development costs than a generation ago. In evaluating a piece of land for purchase, take your time and proceed with your eyes open.
LAND USE REGULATIONS
Land use is governed by a wide-ranging set of regulations at the local, state, and sometimes federal level. Uses may also be restricted contractually through protective covenants and other deed restrictions. Before wasting too much time evaluating a piece of land, first make sure that you can build on it and use the land as planned read more
Local governments establish zoning ordinances to regulate land use in their community. If your lot is not in compliance with zoning laws, or your planned building type or usage is not allowed in your zoning district, then you may need to obtain a variance. This can be a slow, complex process and there is no guarantee of success read more
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Once you’ve found a parcel that seems attractive, you’ll want to do some preliminary, free research to if it’s worth pursuing further. Start by asking the seller or seller’s agent all the questions on your list, and if things check out, move on to town officials who can provide a wealth of information – all for free. In general, you won’t want to spend any money on investigations until after your offer is accepted read more
DISCLOSURE OF DEFECTS
In the old days, the principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) applied to most real estate transactions. It was the buyer’s responsibility to thoroughly inspect a building or piece of land before purchasing. The trend over the past few decades has been to require sellers to disclose significant defects read more