If you haven’t found the home of your dreams, you may be thinking about building it instead. Buying land and building your ideal home gives you the ability to customize as much as you want – or as much as your budget will allow. It is an exciting yet complex process so our real estate agents have provided five tips to help you get started.
1. Build an Excellent Team
“Interview and find your builder even before you start your land search. Your realtor can assist with finding land parcels, the known details, title issues, and general issues with the city,” says Broker Julie Miller.
“Along with your real estate broker, you will want to construct your team of experts: design/architect, developer/contractor,” explains Broker Andy Moore. “These individuals must be very experienced and familiar with the community’s regulatory elements that you plan to build. These folks, along with other experts, will be invaluable in achieving your new home objectives.”
When it comes to a successful build, having a highly-skilled, efficient team is crucial. Most likely, you’ll be working with a group of professionals for several months. Therefore, you want to make sure that you have team members you trust who offer local expertise.
2. Analyze the Location
Location, Location, Location! It’s important to keep zoning and potentially related issues in mind. This is where your team of professionals comes in handy. Jurisdictions may have land that’s zoned for residential or commercial use or both. You’ll need to find out if the land you’re looking to purchase is zoned for your specific interests and needs.
Additionally, Mother Nature is a powerful force. It’s essential to keep in mind what sort of hazards may come up and how the land you’re looking to buy would be impacted by a natural disaster. From wildfires to floods, earthquakes to mudslides, take every possibility seriously.
3. Do Your Utilities Research
“For raw land, start researching power immediately. An official design and accurate cost estimate from Puget Sound Energy can take up to a year or more to achieve,” explains Jason Galbreath, Broker.
Unless you plan on living entirely off the grid, you’ll need to figure out how your house will get water, electricity, gas, waste, and cable. Contact water, power, waste, and other companies to understand the costs of connecting the land to utilities.
4. Understand What Waterfront Living Entails
If you’re specifically looking to build a waterfront property, you’ll want to consider many things in addition to the ones listed above. Keep in mind Puget Sound’s ecology, erosion potential, and the possible need for soft shore protection. Be sure to consult local experts when considering a specific parcel of land. Discuss potential issues and considerations throughout the process to avoid problems down the road.
5. Check for Unrecorded Rights
“Make sure to ask the sellers if there are any unrecorded ‘rights’ to use the property,” states Broker Kelly Muldrow. Knowing the land’s complete history is a crucial step. In fact, Kelly recounted a cautionary tale from his own experience when representing buyers. “A couple of weeks before closing, an elderly relative produced a letter from the family stating she had a life estate allowing her to park her RV there and camp on the property for as long as she lived. The buyers had to hold off on clearing the property and building their dream home until she passed away.”
When it comes to buying land to build a house, it’s never as simple as it may seem. However, with thorough research, careful planning, and an excellent team of local professionals, you can turn your dream home into a reality.