5 Steps to Buying Land For Your Dream Home – Chapter 2 Finding Land
Step Two: Finding Land
I stated above that for many people, financing is the hardest part. That’s true, but it’s also true that finding land that meets all your criteria (location, school district, size, topography, solitude, price, etc.) can be the biggest challenge. We work with people all the time who are struggling to find that right piece of land.
In this section, I’m going to give you some of the techniques we use successfully to find land.
That’s not to say this is an exhaustive list, but these are the ways that have produced the best results for our clients over time. You can use one or more of the following techniques simultaneously to conduct your search.
Real Estate Agents
Many times, one of your best options for finding land is meeting the right real estate agent. One who is active in the community where you’re interested in finding land. The key thing to look for is an agent who lists a lot of land in or near the area.
Any agent who lists a lot of land likely spends time identifying people who want to sell land. That means they likely have good connections to finding land that might not be on the market yet. It could be that the perfect piece of land isn’t even for sale until the right buyer (you) comes along and finds it. The right real estate agent could be your connection.
Finding An Agent
How exactly do you go about finding the right real estate agent? Drive around the areas you’re interested in and watch for any real estate signs on land for sale. Write down the name of the agent listed on each sign and see if any agents have multiple signs in the area.
If you find one that dominates the area with land listing, call them. Tell them what you’re looking for and see if they have anything among their listings, other agents’ listings, or any “hip pocket” listings that match your criteria. A “hip pocket” listing is the term real estate agents use for real estate they know is about to come on the market but isn’t in the market listings yet.
There might be more than one agent with multiple land listings, and there’s nothing wrong with calling several. You’ll find that some won’t even return a phone call. (Don’t ask me why1). Sometimes it takes several calls just to connect, but it’s worth the extra effort to find the right agent and the right land.
There’s always Realtor.com, but if land isn’t listed with a Realtor, it won’t show up there. Many people, especially in rural areas, advertise their land for sale themselves. Sometimes they just don’t want to pay a commission to an agent. However, sometimes they just can’t find an agent interested in selling land.
For whatever reason, many people use the following websites to list their land, and your dream property might be listed on one of them. Here are a few that we’ve had the best luck with for our clients:
There are probably lots of others, but these are the more popular ones, which means you can find most of what’s available on these sites.
You didn’t really need to read this guide to know that driving around can help you find that perfect piece of land, but if I didn’t include this method, my guide would be incomplete. All kidding aside, when you’re driving the areas you’re interested in, look for more than just “for sale” signs.
Also look at the general area, the condition of the roads, how easy it will be for you to drive to and from work or school, how thick the trees are, how busy the streets are, what the neighboring land or homes look like, etc. We’ve worked with people who started out searching in one area but ended up changing their minds after driving around.
Land That Is Not For Sale
You’re also looking for that ideal piece of land that isn’t for sale. Many times, we’ve found land for our clients that met their criteria exactly, but it wasn’t actually on the market. It takes some research to find the owner so you can make contact, but it can be done.
Every county has a County Assessor, which is the office responsible for evaluating land values and assigning property tax amounts. The details of ownership of every square inch of land in the county are recorded in the assessor’s database. The Greenville County Assessor website is a good example.
Using this type of site, you can simply search by clicking on a map that will show you all sorts of information about the land, including the name and address of the owner.