Buying a Perfect Lot for Your New Home
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Whether you are looking to build a spec or a custom new home in Northern Virginia, you will not be able to bring your dreams into reality without first finding and buying a perfect lot.
Hopefully by now, you’ve decided on the location, the size of your new home, and selected a reputable local builder. Now it’s time to find a perfect lot for your new home. land
Lot & Land Purchase Contract: 8 Questions to Ask
Before writing an offer and presenting contract to purchase, you should be aware that land purchase requires extensive buyer due diligence. The most sellers won’t have all the answers, so it’s imperative to investigate all potential issues thoroughly until you’re confident in the purchase.
As your agent, I’ll do everything in my power to collect as much information on the parcel as possible, including visiting County Offices and talking to the sellers’ agent. All gathered information will allow you to vet the property and will become a powerful tool during the negotiations.
After the preliminary “home work” on the property has been completed, and all available information is gathered, you still might have some unanswered questions about the land. In order to make sure that no unpleasant surprises await you after the sale, the contract should include Feasibility Study contingencies.
Feasibility Study will allow you to have sufficient time to inspect the property and uncover all potential issues. You should consult your agent and an engineer on the length of this contingencies.
Asking these eight questions might help you to decide what contingencies would become a part of your Land Purchasing Contract:
❶ What utilities are available on a prospective Lot?
Your agent will research whether the water source and sewer are maintained privately or publicly; and if there is a gas line or propane tank installed. Are the hookups complete and capacity adequate?
All lots can be divided into these categories: with all utilities available on site (gas, water and sewer); only gas line; public water or sewer; or without any public utilities. Properties with public sewer, water and gas line are easy to deal with and should not cause a concern – the new home is built, and the utilities are connected to a house.
When public utilities are not available, your new home will be serviced by private septic system, propane gas tank and well water. You, as a buyer, have to decide if the maintenance of all the utilities would become a burden. For example, you would have to make sure to schedule inspections of the septic system and test well water quality on the annual basis.
❷ Was the Land approved for Septic System?
This is very important. Often the lot looks beautiful and priced right, but no septic can be installed. The reason? A soil study that includes soil percolation test, doesn’t allow for it.
No house can be constructed without a septic system approved by the Fairfax County’s Health Department! Please read more about septic systems HERE. The last thing you want to do is to purchase a lot and find out later that the construction of a new home is unachievable.
❸ Will water supply be public or come from a well?
The water may come from a well or from a local water company. The drilling and installation of water well will have to be approved by Fairfax County’s Health Department. If there is no public water, before purchasing a lot, you have to make sure well water is available. Water well has to be located 50 feet away from the septic system.
❹ Is the lot/land located in flood Zone?
It’s also a good idea to check the flood plain status of the property, as this will impact availability and cost of flood insurance. An experienced engineer that works closely with the builder will be able to check property’s records and confirm.
❺ Would you have to use a private road?
If the lot is located on the private road, the contract to purchase a lot has to include a recorded easement providing adequate access to the property.
❻ Have you checked for Restricted Protected Areas?
The lots with Restricted Protected Areas or RPAs have very restrictive rules and regulations – no construction or installation of the utilities will be allowed beyond RPA’s border line. Often, very large lot – 5 acres+ might only have 1 acre of usable land. Please review property’s plat for the existence of RPA lines.
❼ Are there any protected tree species?
If there are a lot of trees on the lot, you will have to make sure that none of those trees are protected species. If the trees are protected, you will not be able to cut them in order to clear the area for the construction of the house. In addition, subdivision’s HOA by-laws might restrict your ability to cut trees and clear the building site.
❽ Do you have land survey or plat?
In addition, you will have to check the final survey of the land, check on easements for gas lines, electrical and county roads, make sure there are no Conservation areas, and check on Building Restriction Lines or BRLs and, if needed, locate a place for a propane tank.
How Do You Find Lot & Land?
Where do you start looking for the right building lot? In Northern Virginia, majority of building lots are listed on the local MLS. Please seek assistance of your real estate agent for most up to date list of lots available for sale. Your realtor will not only locate the lot that matches your criteria, but also will take you through steps necessary to make sure that the lot you are purchasing is buildable.
When buying a lot in Northern Virginia, you have two choices: buy a “teardown” property in “as-is” condition and use land to build a new home or buy unimproved or raw land.
- Lots & Land for Sale in Vienna VA >
- Lots & Land for Sale in McLean VA >
- Lots & Land for Sale in Falls Church VA >
- Lots & Land for Sale in Great Falls VA >
Once you find a lot that matches your criteria, start investigating. With the help of your agent and experienced engineer and builder, review a plat, and all documents available at Fairfax County’s Health Department.
If you are ready to start looking for a lot in Vienna VA, McLean VA, Great Falls VA or in Falls Church VA, and would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me to set up a consultation.
AUTHOR: Natasha Lingle is a full time real estate agent serving Vienna VA and Northern Virginia communities. She is an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) and Certified New–Home Construction Buyer Representative. If you are planning to buy a finished new construction home or would like to build fully custom home, you can rely on her knowledge. As your new home buyer agent, she will guide you through the steps and processes of purchase, construction, and customization. In addition, she will:
• explain characteristics of new homes and highlight the differences between custom and spec constructions;
• evaluate pros and cons of purchasing a new home versus an existing home;
• help you understand new-home construction sales contract;
• and explain such nuances as “builder’s warranty”.