You finally found it…the lot with the gorgeous views and you are mentally going through the steps of designing the perfect house for it, with the beautiful porches, patio and picture windows…but, STOP, you need to think for a minute about the lot and be sure that it is everything it is marketed to be!
This afternoon, I went to visit a fifteen acre lot in Western Loudoun for a client completing my due diligence to ensure that they are properly represented. When I visit a property like this, here are some things that I think about to be sure that it will truly be the land of their dreams, and not a problem in the future:
Buying Land: Defining the Lot
I examine the plat document (e.g. the drawing that shows the lot lines and key features of the lot) and I walk the entire property looking for key identifying elements like fence posts and property markers. I do this because it can take years before land is sometimes sold, and I want to be sure that we have an accurate depiction of the land in the sales documentation.
I also look for slope definitions to see if the grading of the property matches the description because excavation and backfill can be expensive, and I want my clients to get the benefit of whatever work was professionally engineered and inspected by the county.
And, finally, I want to be sure that the lot lines are still in place, and have not been trespassed upon by an adjacent property owner. In some areas, the open possession of a portion of the property by an adjacent holder could spell trouble at the time of the property being surveyed by my client, and I want to address that now versus later when it is a “surprise”.
Buying Land: Easements
In real estate, there are a variety of easements that ensure access to a property (either in perpetuity or during a period of ownership). I will examine the easements on the property and check to be sure that they match the ones on the drawings before ordering a costly surveyor to come out and determine (like the lot lines) that the purchase on the property cannot be consummated due to a lack of access to the parcel.
Buying Land: Verify the Septic System
Many, if not all, Western Loudoun lots are serviced by a septic system, be it owned by the individual property owner or, in the case of Beacon Hill (or the towns), a community option. If the property has a septic already in place, I walk the area where the septic field has been installed to ensure that it is not “soft” or significantly flooded as this can indicate a system that has not been properly serviced. While one can argue that a septic inspection will uncover any issues, I want to know about them before my client “falls in love” with the property.
Buying Land: Check for Utilities
Similar to the septic review, I look to identify the source of the power and other utilities that will service the property, and visually determine whether they are installed. This includes power transformers/lines, water hookups/wells and cable/phone lines.
Lastly, I work with a title company to verify the title on the property prior to making an offer. While title searches and inspections after an offer is accepted are normally performed, it is important to try and verify as much as possible prior to making an offer on a lot due to the length of time that many sit waiting for a buyer.
In the end, these are just a few of the services that you get when working with a professional agent. In most cases, our fees are paid by the seller of the property, so utilizing our services are FREE to a buyer, and worth a whole lot more.