Due Diligence: The 5 Step Process That Works For Us When Buying Land

Buying vacant land doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to be a seasoned real estate professional to do so. At least that’s what we’re trying to accomplish here at Land Brotherz. 

Look around the industry and you might quickly think otherwise, though! 

At least that’s what they want you to think.

And by “they,” I mean all those involved in the industry whose paycheck depends on your purchasing or selling activity — and how they can get involved in that activity.

Real estate agents, brokers, title agents, attorneys, contractors and so on … whether they’d like to admit it, they want you to need them! They need you to need them — their paychecks and commissions depend on it!

Now, let’s be fair. They can certainly be helpful. Many are quite experienced and good at their jobs. And if the deal is large and complex enough, then someone (e.g., title insurance) might be worth consulting. Maybe that number is a $5,000 sales price. Maybe it’s $10,000. Your mileage and means may vary. Do what works for you!

In our years of operating and closing dozens of transactions, we’ve closed nearly all of our transactions in-house. We’re not agents or brokers. We’re just everyday business owners who have put in the time to research and educate ourselves on the process. To help provide you with the confidence to conduct your own due diligence, we’ve included our 5-step process below!

To be clear, this is the due diligence process that we follow and what has worked for us. We can’t claim that it’s perfect — we’re always improving — but with each transaction, we’ve learned something new and incorporated that learning into our process. 

Again, this is just what has worked for us — a combination of online research and good old-fashioned phone calls (e.g., to local authorities like the County Assessor, Tax Collector, Planning-Zoning Departments, etc.). 

It’s not the most fun part of land buying — wouldn’t you rather be camping or building your vacation cabin on your new lot already? — but it’s an important process to ensure you know what you’re buying. Your process can (and probably will) differ. We hope that our process is helpful as a high-level framework to you but do what you’re comfortable with!

(But first, some fun legal stuff! The information provided on this website and in this blog post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. The content on this posting is provided “as-is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free. Readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.)

DUE DILIGENCE PROCESS

  1. Call County Assessor to confirm ownership information (e.g., name, acreage)
    1. Who’s on the deed?
    2. What is the acreage on the property?
    3. Is there a property ownership association (POA)? Any past due amount?
    4. Any liens?
  2. Check online or call the County Tax Collector to check taxes and confirm back tax amount
    1. What is the past due amount?
    2. What are the annual taxes?
    3. When is the next installment due?
    4. Is there a property ownership association (POA)? Any past due amount?
    5. Any liens?
  3. Check online for property maps
    1. Does the property have drive-up access?
  4. Check online and confirm “comps” support deal price
  5. Depending on what you’d like to do, contact the County Planning-Zoning Department to ensure that you can do it — here are some example questions:
    1. Does this parcel have legal access?
    2. What is the zoning of this property?
    3. What uses are allowed?
    4. Is the site buildable?
    5. What types of buildings are allowed? Modular homes? Site-built only?
    6. Is camping allowed? If so, for how long? Other limitations?
    7. Are animals allowed? If so, what types and limitations?
    8. What are the allowable agricultural uses?

If everything checks out and you like what you see, move forward with the transaction!

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