23 August 2019/ sale_land_guide

6 important questions to ask when buying land real estate

Get some answers before you buy

Every piece of land differs, and real-estate transactions will vary based on different locations, property uses and individual buyer and seller circumstances. Here’s a checklist of six really useful questions to ask a seller or land agent that will help paint a clear picture. Please note that this is intended as a general guide, rather than an exhaustive outline. Always consult a qualified land professional to ensure you’re getting the right information and advice.

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1. Are there existing planning permissions in place? And is this outline consent or detailed planning permission?

If planning permission is in place, make sure it hasn’t expired, or won’t expire during the time it takes for you to complete the purchase. Also check for previous planning applications to see what has been permitted or refused for the land in the past. It’s also worth inquiring if there are any development proposals for any adjoining land or properties.

2. What are the access rights?

For example, does the plot have good access to the public highway? What access is there to the land for you, including vehicle access? Watch out for a ‘ransom strip,’ where the current landowner holds back a piece of land between your plot and the access point and will not allow you access over it unless you pay extra. Is there shared access or a public right of way across the land? If there’s shared access – such as a shared driveway – make sure there’s a legal agreement in place about how maintenance will be paid.

3. What are the ground conditions like?

Could the land have been previously contaminated with chemicals? Is it on a floodplain? Is it too rocky for digging foundations? Is it liable to subsidence? Is the ground level? If it’s a sloping plot, it could cost you more to develop. If you have any doubts about the suitability of the land, get it looked at by a qualified surveyor.

4. Is the land served by electricity, sewerage and water? Are any wells or septic tanks installed?

Check with the agent to see if there’s a mains water connection on site or a well. If there’s no mains water connected, in most cases, you’ll be able to get your own supply using a borehole. The costs of this vary according to the location and geology of the site. Likewise, off mains sewerage costs will depend on the scope of the project and geology.

5. Why is the owner selling the land?

Who are the adjoining neighbours? Are there any ongoing property line disputes with neighbouring landowners or any existing tenant or lease obligations?

6. Are there any other issues to be aware of?

For example, overhead power cables or trees that have a tree preservation order on them, or environmental issues, such as protected wildlife habitats?

The above questions should help you get an idea of a property's existing state as well as future potential – but this is just the starting point. The more you find out, the more questions you’ll have and appointing a conveyancing team experienced in land transactions is likely to be the best next step. They’ll help you decide if it’s the right piece of land to fit with your plans – and help you negotiate the right price to pay for it.

Looking for commercial land to buy? Check out Realla and find your next commercial land for sale!