Once you know how you are going to pay for land, you can set to the task of finding the property. (If you haven’t secured financing yet, please read “Step 1: Obtain Financing” for information about how to do this.) This step, find the land, may seem obvious and even simple. Finding the right piece of property, however, often proves to be the most difficult and frustrating step of the land buying process.
Why would this step be frustrating? After all, finding land to build your dream home should be fun, right?! While we hope this is the case, finding land that meets all your criteria–location, school district, size, topography, price, etc.—often proves to be a big challenge.
Step 2: Find the Land
In order to help minimize the struggles of finding land, we are going to give you some techniques to help you successfully find the right piece of property. Although the below list is not exhaustive, these are strategies that have produced the best results for our clients. The even better news is that you do not have to choose just one strategy. You can use all of the following techniques simultaneously. That way, you improve your chances of finding the land you need to build your dream home!
Strategies to Find the Right Land
Hire a Real Estate Agent
The first strategy we suggest to finding land is to hire a real estate agent. In fact, often, one of your best options for finding land is meeting the right real estate agent. The right agent will be active in the community where you’re interested in finding property. This does not mean that they simply live in the community, but rather that they list a lot of land in and/or near the area you are searching.
So, how exactly do you find the right real estate agent? Well, drive around the areas you’re interested in and look for real estate signs on land for sale. Write down the name of the agent listed on each sign, noticing which agents have multiple signs in the area. When you find agents that dominate the area with land listings, call them. (It’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to several agents. After all, just like hiring the right builder, you need to be very comfortable with the real estate agent with whom you work.)
Once you contact an agent, tell them what you’re looking for to 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 used for real estate that is about to come on the market but isn’t in the market listings yet.) It might take several calls, but it’s worth the extra effort to find the right agent who can help you find the right land.
*Although it is acceptable to “interview” several real estate agents, remember that these individuals work on commission. If someone spends time showing you property, be considerate and allow him/her to conduct the sale if you choose to purchase the land.
Even if you hire a real estate agent to help you find property, you can continue to search, as well. There are numerous websites with land listings, including realtor.com. If the land is not listed with a realtor, however, it won’t show up on this site.
Some people advertise their land for sale themselves, listing them on websites. Although this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the most popular sites for listing land for sale:
*Even if you find the land yourself, you may still want to utilize a realtor to help negotiate the deal and complete the necessary paperwork, including the contract. Of course, you will have to pay the realtor’s commission for these services.
Although this suggestion may seem silly, if I didn’t include this method, my suggestions would be incomplete.
In all seriousness, you should drive the areas you’re interested in. Not only should you try to find “for sale” signs, but you should also check out where you might live. As you drive around, make sure to notice things like:
- the condition of the roads
- how easy it will be for you to drive to and from work or school
- the thickness of the brush and trees
- how busy the streets are
- what the neighboring land and homes look like
- how close the grocery story is
- where the nearest medical facilities are located
- if there are fire hydrants nearby
- other “quality of life” factors important to you
We’ve worked with people who started out searching in one area but ended up changing their minds after driving around and really taking notice of how they would live.
Look for Land that is Not for Sale
If you’ve hired the right real estate agent, he/she likely spends time identifying people who want to sell land. That means, they probably have good connections to finding land that might not be on the market yet. Make sure to ask your agent if he/she has any “hip pocket” listings. It could be that the perfect piece of land isn’t actively for sale until the right buyer comes along and finds it. The right real estate agent could be your connection to making that deal.
Even if you have not hired an agent, you can still look for that ideal piece of land that isn’t for sale. If you find a piece of property that meets your criteria, but it isn’t on the market, do some research to find the owner. This can be done through the County Assessor Office. The details of land ownership are recorded in the assessor’s database, such as the Greenville County Assessor website. Using this type of site, you can search all sorts of information about the land, including the name and address of the owner.
After you find the land . . .
Once you find the land, you need to evaluate that land for building purposes before your purchase it. That being said, don’t fall in love just yet! Read “Step 3: Evaluate the Land” for more information.
And, of course, contact us to discuss designing custom floor plans for the dream home you plan to build on your land!
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