A lot goes into buying and selling real estate. Several things can hinder a land sale, from zoning laws to property taxes. Raw land is an attractive investment for investors because it has never been built upon before. However, one must know the issues hindering a land sale before investing in one.
A land survey is essential in determining property lines, building sites, and the location of any structures on a piece of land. It will also help establish a fair market value, especially when competing against other properties. If the buyer learns that they are purchasing property surrounded by a lake or other land they cannot build on because it is not zoned for that use, they may abandon their purchase and go elsewhere. Ensure that your land has a clear title, and make sure your attorney conducts or arranges for a complete search of public records before closing. Access issues are a huge problem for buyers when buying land. Search for more info to ensure a good road before putting your land on the market.
Easements and covenants are contracts that can run with a piece of property. They can grant nonpossessory rights to third parties, such as a government agency with the right to access a part of private land to maintain power lines or a utility company with the right to string cable wires on electric poles across a portion of one owner’s property.
For an easement to be enforceable, it must meet specific requirements. A party must use it for some time, have been recorded, and be subject to actual or constructive notice (meaning that something about the use would lead a reasonable person to inquire further and discover the easement’s existence). A new owner may not enforce the easement if these elements are included.
Unknown topography is a huge problem that can hinder land sales. It may cost a lot to bring in water lines or to install power or other utilities. Raw land investors must ask about these issues during due diligence. Survey topography plans can reveal many unknown land features, including septic system capacity, the slope of the property (peak, shoulder, toe slope), and terrain metric values. In addition, these plans can identify whether or not the property has a culvert that connects the property to a public highway. Human-induced changes to topography are also essential to know. These include bomb craters left by war, engineering modifications of rivers, lakes, and coastlines, and deforestation. Understanding these impacts can help the buyer structure the purchase to minimize costs and maximize value.
A critical issue that may hinder a land sale is unknown boundaries. It can include issues such as encroachment with neighbors or needing a permit for structures encroaching on setbacks. This issue can significantly hinder land sales, especially for a new home builder. Boundaries are a foundational element of property law and have important value implications for the parcels and those adjacent to them. They are not tradable without delineation (whether by custom, taboo, agreement, or law) and must be known de jure for a Coasian exchange to occur.
A survey can identify several different issues that could hinder a land sale. Some examples include encroachments, easements, and the actual quantity of acres a parcel contains. For most buyers, knowing what they are buying is extremely important. A well-drafted survey approval contingency in a contract is essential.
Many court cases have involved sellers who, after closing on a property, had a survey conducted and found that the actual quantity of land purchased was significantly less than what was described in the deed. Unfortunately, under current law, few warranties survive closing to protect the buyer where this occurs. However, some lawmakers have recently proposed legislation requiring adjoining property owners to be notified before a survey is conducted.