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Buying Land

3 Tips for First-Time Land Buyers

January 10, 2024

For many people, a land purchase is one of the biggest decisions of their lives. From the time spent finding the perfect land tract to the long hours worked to save up the money, purchasing land can be a stressful process, especially for the uninitiated. With more factors to consider than a traditional real estate purchase, first-time land buyers may find themselves overwhelmed at the start of their search.

During his recent appearance on the National Land Podcast, AL Land Professional Gabe Goodson shared advice for land buyers based on his years of experience helping people find the perfect piece of land. Here are 3 tips for first-time land buyers to consider as they start their search!

Do Your Research and Communicate Must-Haves

One of the best things land buyers can do for themselves before contacting an agent is to sit down and think about their must-haves and research what kind of property they’ll need to fulfill those desires. Having a good understanding of the intended uses for a property will help to narrow down exactly what kind of land you’ll need as well as what features that land should have. For example, if a person wants to build a home on the land they purchase, then they’ll probably need a property with water and electricity on-site, or easy access to these utilities.

Making a list of must-haves before meeting with an agent will expedite the process of finding the right property and help the agent find properties that fit your desired criteria. Land Professionals may also be able to identify issues with potential properties that you hadn’t considered, as Goodson explained. He stated, “Many times I tell people, I could look at a property online and [eliminate] it. Now I’m not running people away from properties or anything like that, but I can go ahead and bring up the points that we might need to look into before we go out there and look at [a property]. A listing might look good online and have a great price, but it may not have any deeded access.” 

This is also a good time to do some research into potential agents in the area. Given how land purchases differ from residential real estate, it’s a good idea to find an agent with significant experience in your area. Goodson echoed this sentiment, stating, “If I was a buyer, it would be hard for me to take somebody’s opinion in an area where they don’t have any listings or might’ve only sold one or two tracts. Facts are facts and unless they’ve got listings in an area, chances are that they haven’t sold a lot of land in that area.”

Know Your Budget

Before contacting a Land Professional, it’s important to determine buying power and establish a budget. Doing this will not only help a land buyer understand what is reasonably affordable in their circumstances but will also assist their Land Professional in finding suitable tracts that meet their list of must-haves without breaking the bank.

Goodson spoke to the importance of establishing a budget upfront stating, “You might have a buyer thinking ‘I can buy something for $500,000.’ Well, they might not have the cash to buy it and they might not have done the homework to figure out what they can afford. Here we are looking at $500,000 tracts when in reality they might only be able to afford a $200,000 property. So then you’ve wasted all that time looking at things that were never going to work from the beginning.”

For first-time buyers, it’s probably best to meet with a financial planner or advisor who can evaluate your financial situation and give you a realistic and accurate budget for your land purchase. Doing so will ensure that you and your Land Professional can more effectively search for the right property for you.

Don’t Try to Do It Yourself

While it is important to do research and try to find listings independently, first-time land buyers should not overlook the power of a seasoned Land Professional. While many people may have experience with residential real estate, purchasing land comes with unique challenges and complications which can be overwhelming to navigate for someone without experience. Typically when buying land from a seller, that seller will be represented by an agent who will ensure their protection but not necessarily the buyer’s, as Goodson explained. 

He stated, If a listing agent is trying to sell to a buyer, they’ve got the seller in their best interest. That leaves the buyer representing themselves in a transaction they may have never done before. There are a lot of unforeseen things, especially in land and that’s where it would help to have a professional who specializes in land to help navigate around any issues. It clears up a lot of uncertainty.”

Although buying land can be an intimidating undertaking for those who have never done so before, it doesn’t need to be! Doing a little research and preparation before meeting with an expert will make for a much smoother and faster buying experience. If you’re ready to talk to a local Land Professional, click here!

About the Author
Bryce Berglund is National Land Realty’s Content Marketing Specialist. He is currently residing in Minnesota, where he attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Bryce is an appreciator of all things artistic, and likes to spend time at his cabin with his dog and family.