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8 Tips for Buying Residential Lots and Land for a New Home

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So you’ve decided you want to build your next home from the ground up. We’ve got eight “must-dos” before you buy that residential lot.  These are the highlights; we’ve explored each point more thoroughly in a series of posts as noted in the links.

  1. Decide your community style:  Just like buying an existing home, think up front about the kind of community and location that suits your style.  Whether you want sidewalks, bike paths, schools and shopping within walking distance or the nearest neighbor a mile away, no other path to home ownership gives you as many options as buying your own lot.8 Tips for buying lots and land - open field with tree
  2. Choosing a Builder: Buying your own building lot also means choosing your own builder…usually.  Check out potential builders as much as you check out the property. Do you want a completely customized home, the convenience of choosing a stock plan or the choice of a builder in a traditional development? Or does your perfect lot come with a particular builder already attached?
  3. Check out the lot from satellite to street: This is really an area where technology is your best friend. From the satellite photos of properties you find right here on to Google Street View, you can see what’s two miles away as easily as what’s next door. That beautiful vacant lot for sale might be bargain priced because there’s a pig farm just down the road.
  4. Double check property conditions: You absolutely, positively have to do a site visit and walk the entire property. Putting the patio right there will be perfect for watching the sunset…if it’s not in a wetland. That “gentle stream” may become a raging river in a heavy rain. A big dead area with no grass might mean hidden environmental problems. Things can happen: We learned a $100,000 lesson when a seller failed to disclose the hidden oil tank on a property we bought for development.
  5. Confirm the status of infrastructure and utilities: Make sure there are no hidden fees for connecting to water and sewer. If you will need to install a septic system, make sure it passes a “perc test”, which measures the absorption rate of the soil where a proposed septic system will be installed. Is cable television and high-speed Internet a must? Do your homework.
  6. Review roads and access: You’re generally going to want land that fronts directly on or has vehicular access to a public road. If it doesn’t, make sure the proper easements and rights of way are in place.
  7. Research restrictions and site limitations: Check a property’s use restrictions to ensure you can use the site and build the home the way you want. Restrictive covenants, HOA rules, historic districts and environmental conditions like wetlands all affect your use of a property. Check out restrictions related to front and side setbacks – we know a guy who had to seek a special exemption from the county because the builder put the house 18 inches too close to the road.
  8. Work with professionals: Your brother-in-law is a great guy, but unless he’s also a buyer’s real estate agent or broker with experience and expertise in representing BUYERS of residential property don’t completely trust his advice. If possible, have your builder or architect involved before committing to a lot or land.

There are some comprehensive articles in this series that are full of good information. You may want to bookmark what you find most helpful, so you can come back later and use the information as  a resource.

You also may want to check out our page dedicated to Tips & Resources for Buying Lots & Land, which gathers many different helpful resources in one place for lot and land buyers and provides tips about using to help you in your search.

You Can Start Searching Now

There are more than 400,000 lot and land listings on, so get started now and find the perfect lot for your new home. Just choose your state and start your search from one of these links, and then simply narrow down your search to the price range, size, location and other criteria that you need. And we’ve made it easy for you to contact the seller by email or phone directly from the property listings that interest you.




And be sure to share these articles with your friends too. Get the word out by social media, email, etc. (there’s a social sharing bar available on both the top and bottom of this article) so that you can help other people who are searching for land for a new home.

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  1. says

    Buying a new property can increase your profits in case you are engaged in a real-estate business. However, there are important things to consider if you want to get the best deals. Here are some tips on how to buy a new property.

  2. says

    Before my best friend, Michelle, got married, she and her husband designed their house together. Many of the reasons they chose to build where they did was because the community and location fit their lifestyle. When I build I want to make sure the location is internet accessible so I can work from home. When you check the lot from the satellite is there a way to check internet availability?

  3. Dannette Lomas says

    We are purchasing a property in a subdivision through a realtor. Why do we have to pay a fee for the paperwork? Why do some charge paperwork fee and others don’t?

    • says

      For something like that it often depends on local customs and fees, which can vary widely for real estate transactions across the country. You can always compare prices, fees, etc. with other professionals in your same area to get comfortable with what you are being told. Good luck with your property purchase.

  4. Olivia Nelson says

    I would add to look at the city plans to see if anything is in the works. My inlaws bought some beautiful land but it turned out that the city was planning on building a movie theater nearby two years down the road. I also found some great tips for people buying land on this site.

  5. says

    I like your tip to check out a lot from a satellite photo. Like you said, there’s often a reason for a lot being bargain priced that might not be immediately obvious. Checking out the area and local neighborhood can help you determine whether you really want that land or not. Thanks for the article.

  6. says

    My husband and I considering buying some land and are hoping to build our own home on it. We’ll have to make sure that we are working with professionals and that we consult with a builder before we buy any land. Hopefully, we can find someone to help us plan and build our dream house.

  7. Danni Black says

    I really like your tip about double checking the property conditions when it comes to finding a lot to build on! My husband and I have been wanting to build a home for a while now. I think that these tips will be really helpful to us! We will have to keep them in mind while we are looking at real estate.

  8. Mayet says

    Homeowners are also people with jobs. The number 8 tip should a priority with the considerations for the location of the home. The easier or faster access you have on main roads would enable you to go the right places at the right time.

    • says

      Great points. Location and how it relates to commute time and access to services/amenities can be top priorities for some buyers. At the same time, those considerations may not be as important for a buyer who is retired (and not commuting) or seeking secluded land with privacy for a vacation home. We address those points in more detail when discussing homesite selection in Tip #1, where we encourage buyers to evaluate their options by considering their lifestyle needs.

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