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How to Buy Land to Build Your Dream House

How to Buy Land to Build Your Dream House

How to Buy Land to Build Your Dream HouseUpdated for 2015! One of the first steps to building your own house is to buy land to build on. But exactly how do you buy land to build your dream home?

After all, this land is where you will build your home, your dream home, and hopefully your forever home. You want to be sure that you're completely happy with it. Imagine how you will feel 1 year, 5 years, or 20 years from now in this location.

Consider what your ideal lot will be before you finalize the design plans of your new home. The land can play a large role in how the design plans will work. The style, shape, size, foundation type, and width may all need to be adjusted to certain land features and criteria. If you have decided to purchase the plans first, be sure that you know what criteria to follow for the lot you select. Construction blueprints are non-returnable.

Since there are numerous considerations to determine the perfect plot of land for your house, here are THD’s tips and considerations to finding and buying land to build your dream home:

1 – Location, location, location!:

Clearly, the first step to buy land to build your dream home is where to buy land. Will you buy land in the same state you are living in now? Will you purchase land in a different city or town? Will you look for rural land or a lot in a subdivision? Will you build a mountain retreat, a waterfront dream home, or classic subdivision home? Your vision for your home will determine where you will buy land for your home.

2 – Land Size and Land Quality:

Do you dream of acreage or do you want a nice comfortable plot of land with little yardwork? There are different kinds of land for sale, too. Lots can range from raw land that needs clearing, to cleared land, to empty lots in a subdivision. Land that needs clearing could add extra expense to your home building project. Land in subdivisions force you to conform to their designs and increasingly, builders are resorting to dangling low land prices to get you into their subdivision. So be skeptical of "bargain lots". If the price is too good to be true it possibly is. If the price is much lower than the communities’ normal price range, there is probably a reason. Look for problem areas like drainage, flood risk, or low spots where water can stand. Poor soil conditions can affect drainage, foundation design, sanitary disposal, topographical problems, difficult restrictive covenants or easements, availability of utilities (think water, sewer, electric, and gas). It may be beneficial to consult a local professional before making the decision to purchase. Be cautious, but be wise. It may be difficult to find a good lot, so if there are problems that you can work with or around you may still want to consider the purchase.

3 – Qualify of Life:

The neighborhood, the schools, the nearby town, and community amenities all contribute to quality of life. The same also goes for the job commute. Your land could be in the perfect community but could be too far from your job. Rural land could be a dream but too far away from modern amenities and services. Do you want to live in a certain school district? Do you want to be close to a city, business district, your job, an established neighborhood, or in a rural area?

4 – Long Term Dreams & Future:

As you search for the perfect plot of land for your home, consider your long term dreams. Maybe you want a small lot, less than an acre with little yard work; but will you need to expand the house as your family grows? Maybe you want to build your retirement, forever home on a wooded mountain side or large acreage land; but will you be too far away from services or be able to maintain upkeep of the land? You may want to consider making the best effort possible to build in an area with homes that will be comparable. The surrounding homes will have a major impact on the resale value of your home someday in the future. You shouldn't overbuild and have a high valued home in an area with homes of much less value - as this will lower the value of your home. Even if you have built the most unique and most beautiful home in the area, it will be difficult to sell later since it does not blend with the neighborhood.

5 – Beware of Development Restrictions:

There are building restrictions and protective covenants in many development areas. These are minimum standards for new constructions with more stable, controlled home values. If you want a large lot, consider the time and money it will require keeping it maintained. Be sure of the requirements on basements, crawlspaces, or slabs that you may choose to use as your foundation. Also, consider the orientation to the sunrise and sunset if you are concerned with interior heating and cooling consideration. If the requirements do not suit your preferences, it may be worth the extra cost to find a different location, even if it is more costly. Look at the survey that was done on the lot. The seller should be able to provide you with a copy of the survey prepared by a registered surveyor. It should show all legal easements, setback requirements, baseline elevations, and possible wetlands, which you may not be able to build on. The last required step is to insist on and pay for a title search and title insurance. If there would ever be a dispute over the land ownership, the title insurance would be an asset. Most lending institutions will require a title that is 'free and clear' before they will negotiate on a loan.

Guerilla Tactics to Finding a Lot

Use various sources during your lot search. You will have a better opportunity to find the 'perfect' lot. Here are some sources to consider:

  • Newspaper Ads: newspaper ads from your local area, or more importantly, the area where you want to be and possibly newspaper ads from surrounding areas. You can get physical newspapers and real estate books, but you can also check ads online. Because of the growth of internet advertising, you may find listings on the online version that are not published in the paper version, so be sure to check both.
  • Online Real Estate Sites: real estate websites have grown in popularity. Sites such as are easy to use and loaded with information. In fact there are increasing numbers of buyers who shop and purchase real estate straight from online listings.
  • Drive Around the Area: there is nothing quite like scouting on your own. Drive around the area and look for "for sale" signs posted on lots. Jot down names and numbers of agents, brokerages or even FSOB listings that you see. These leads may even lead you to other sites, other listings that aren't publicized yet!
  • Real Estate Agents: a good real estate can always be your best friend. Agents have access to MLS listings that may not be publicized yet or not widely publicized. Plus, they have their network of other agents and can work with them to get "first access" to new listings. Indeed, a good agent can be your best friend!
  • Legal plats in county courthouses or your local town hall.

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