Actually there’s about 105 things to know but these are 5 MUST knows before you sign anything or hand money to anyone. The list I’m writing about today is applicable in all land buying situations no matter who you’re buying from. I will say this : If you’re buying from me or anyone in this business these questions will be answered immediately. All of us know this stuff before we ever put property on the market. If you’re buying from an individual with or without a listing broker then you must get these answers and I doubt you will find anyone who has them when 1st asked. I’m a broker myself but I don’t list property for others. I sell what I own therefore I get these answers before you ever know the land is available. I’m no different than you , I need these answers also.
- Warranty Deed ( or deed status etc.) : A Warranty Deed is considered the “highest” form of deed out there. In a perfect situation this is the type of deed that will be conveyed to you. A Warranty Deed is simply ” a deed in which the grantor fully warrants good clear title to the premises”. What more could we ask? I’ll say in most cases a Warranty Deed is what you will get. If it’s not offered at sale this doesn’t necessarily mean the deed is in question , it just means there are other circumstances. Clearing up the questions/circumstances is usually pretty easy. Any attorney can get the answers fairly easily and convert most deeds to Warranty status. One thing is for sure , if a Warranty Deed is not offered at sale you need to find out why.
- Rights : ok this can be a loaded one as there are all kinds of “rights” associated with property. Theses days in the southern tier of NY (south of rt90 ,NYS Thruway) there are very few properties sold with the gas rights included. Gas rights is a topic all by itself and I’ll give ya my 2 cents on that sometime soon. Anyway , we could be talking about , gas, mineral , water , timber and anything else someone can dream up. Sometimes sellers want to sell the land but keep rights simply because they want the money from the sale but benefits from the land. 99% of the time you should not fall for it. I’ve seen situations where the land owner next door has water rights to a well/spring that is on the property I wanted to buy. I haven’t let this prevent me from buying , it really isn’t a big deal. BUT when we’re talking about the others , specifically gas and timber rights I have no tolerance for that and neither should you. Timber rights downright piss me off and I’m not going to hide that. This is when someone sells land to you but keeps the rights to the trees on the property! Meaning those trees are worth money or will be in the future and this guy has the right to come back and log YOUR property when the market is right and you won’t get a penny! Please don’t ever fall for this !!! Either the land is for sale or it isn’t and the trees are part of the land. Don’t give in on this one.
- Survey : ok this seems simple enough right ? A guy has some land he wants to sell he should have it surveyed so he can prove he owns X amount of acres and the property lines are where he claims. Not so simple. I buy land all the time and can tell you almost every single time I have to survey someone else’s land before I buy it. You can’t believe how often I find out the seller doesn’t even know what he owns. The SELLER is responsible for the survey , not the buyer. If it isn’t surveyed don’t buy it period. No exceptions. If the seller refuses then move on to another property. Don’t rely on his broker because they never know anything when it comes to this stuff. Don’t rely on the “tax map” they give you either. Tax maps are inaccurate all the time and cannot be used as proof of anything when transferring ownership. Any questions let me know.
- Access : Another one that on the surface seems simple and most of the time it is. Sometimes it isn’t and you need to find out ahead of time. If the property is on a maintained (plowed) road and has frontage right on that road then access is pretty simple. I sell a lot of land that is “off the beaten path” on seasonal roads or private roads. If you’ve ever looked at land up here you know we have a LOT of property on seasonal and private roads. These are the places I like to be but we have to be sure we have deeded access to our land. Most times it’s clearly stated in the deed , make sure it is. Again , if you’re buying from me it will be clearly stated, legal.
5. Buildable : What the hell does this mean ? It could involve a lot of things or practically nothing. We assume if we’re buying land it’s buildable and it is in nearly all situations. But ( there’s always a but) that isn’t always the case. For instance if the land has classified wetlands on it you HAVE to know exactly where the wetland boundaries are. When I sell land that has any wetlands I have those areas clearly located on the survey map , every time no exceptions. You will not find this to be the case in other selling situations. Wetlands also require building setbacks of at least 100′ , townships require setbacks from your property lines , road frontage etc. If there’s wetlands on a property and you find a building spot outside the setback area you still might not fit the town required setbacks. I don’t want to scare people , just let you know there are circumstances where this can happen. Sometimes you can build a driveway across part of the wetland to access a building location further into the property. You can get permits to do this but you need to have assurances before you base your purchase on that scenario. Keep in mind when we talk about a property being buildable a big part of that involves the septic system. The septic tank and water well have to be separated by at least 150′ and the soil where the septic system will be located must be able to support it. In other words you can’t put your septic system in a swamp. Every property I sell is guaranteed buildable in writing.
Ok there ya have my 5 MUST knows. I could write for hours about each one but I’ll spare us both. Let me know what questions you have or even circumstances you may have run across. Your words could help someone else so don’t hesitate to give us your story. If you guys have any ideas for topics you want to hear about just let me know and I’ll be happy to sit down and blind you with my BS about most any topic. Nice weather today and I’m hoping to get my firewood done so I can check that one off the list. Have a great weekend and please keep in touch. Mick http://www.mooseriverland.com