Purchasing land is inherently more challenging than buying an improved property with a home on it. With an existing home, the broker is working with the client to obtain a good home and a fair value. The designation of a “good home” relies a lot on the home inspector to conduct a thorough investigation of the house. The inspector’s assessment all the major components (structural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roof, etc ) allows the Buyer to evaluate its current condition.
With land, it is harder to assess what isn’t yet there or what one might not be able to see. The Buyer must make an educated decision about zoning, access, critical areas (i.e. wetlands, slope), utilities, the market area and more.
In helping one client to buy their dream lot in Maple Valley WA, we reviewed and determined the following:
Zoning: We confirmed the zoning was RA-5, which basically meant one home per 5-acres. This Lot was 7.10 acres and was a legally created through a short plat process through King County. RESULT: Favorable
Access: The lot had access via a combination of private and public road system. From the lot it accessed a private road, which was NOT maintained by the County. The private road lead to a private, community controlled gate that connected to a public right of way. RESULT: Favorable
Title Review: A review of all items in the title report was completed. Of note were the CC&R’s and HOA restrictions, but nothing contained within them were detrimental to the Buyer’s main concerns. RESULT: Favorable
Topography: The lot was sloping from the north to the south and east. The northwest quadrant of the property was gently sloping while the ground fell off more sharply in the southern and eastern halves of the site. This meant the house best fit in the northwest quadrant of the site. There was plenty of room for the house in this area. RESULT: Favorable
Sensitive Areas: While there were sensitive areas in the general vicinity—none were contained within the boundary of the lot. An existing wetland existed to the north and a wetland and drainage ditch existed to the east of the lot. These critical areas were delineated as part of the short plat and placed within a tract—separate from the Lot. RESULT: Favorable