3 Things to Look for When Buying Land in New Jersey

3 Things to Look for When Buying Land in New Jersey

So you want to buy some land? For many people, it’s a great option – whether for a place to build a brand-new custom home or for a vacation get-away place or just to have your own place to play outdoors. Buying land is much different from buying a home, and that’s why so many land buyers wind up with a case of buyer’s remorse. But if you know what to look for, you can avoid that unfortunate scenario. Check out these 3 things to look for when buying land in New Jersey.

1. Zoning, Soil Quality, and Utilities

Often, people buying land in New Jersey (and anywhere else really) buy a lot or parcel of land simply 

because it looks nice and/or has a good view. They buy on visual appeal alone and neglect to research zoning laws/regulations, soil quality, and potential hazards like flooding. 

Here’s a typical scenario, according to one top agent: “Someone buys [lane] because it’s really cute. They can’t build on it and put it back on the market. Some other sucker buys it, and it happens again and again and again.”

Industry pros recommend that you “[c]heck the zoning, grade, and soil quality, as well as other details specific to the area that may keep a house from being constructed on the land. Even if there’s an existing home on the property, it’s still important to check, as zoning or soil quality could have changed since that structure was built.”

Similarly, you should check whether utilities are hooked up and look into the availability of sewer service or suitability for a septic system when buying land in New Jersey for your new home.

“Undeveloped, vacant land . . . may need additional work to enable it to reach utilities, including electric, gas, and plumbing. If utilities are not available . . . factor the additional work into your budget.” Bringing in utilities can be a very costly affair.

“A sewer hookup, for example, may even require construction on the street in front of the property, which requires additional permits and more money. . . . [I]f a septic system s required, you’ll need to factor in additional soil testing before you can get started, which can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your total . . . not even including the cost of the septic tank.”

2. The Value of Nearby Homes

If you’re buying land in New Jersey to build on, then you definitely need to research the values of the nearest surrounding homes.

Building a home is a costly investment, and you need to protect that investment, which should appreciate (or at least hold its value) over time. Keep in mind that the value of your home will suffer if surrounding homes are of less value. But it “will be worth more if it’s of similar or slightly less value than the nearby houses.”

Consider this illustrative example . . . 

“If your new home costs $500,000 to build, but the neighbor’s homes are valued closer to $250,000, you may have a tough time selling your home for what it’s worth. On the flip side, if you spend $300,000 to build your house, and nearby homes are valued at over $1,000,000, your house will be more attractive to buyers and bring a better price.”

3. Buyer Incentives

Although many buyers neglect to do so, you should also look for buyer incentives when buying land in New Jersey. Taking advantage of these incentives can get you a better deal in the form of a reduced price or tax breaks, along with other perks.

“In some situations, especially after a natural disaster, the local government may offer incentives in the form of tax breaks or easy planning approval to rebuild where homes have been destroyed. Cities in California where wildfires have occurred and coastal towns on the East Coast that experience hurricane devastation often wants to make sure that badly damaged houses are removed and new structures are built in their place.”

Industry pros also advise that where such incentives are offered, you should take advantage of them as quickly as possible. “[C] city or county ordinances, over time, make it harder to build on vacant land – at least what you had in mind.” In addition, “city ordinances are being passed more regularly against vacant land, and the chances are high that these ordinances restrict the build-out, thereby devaluing the land that you own.”

Get the Agent Advantage

Finally, it’s simply a fact that most people interested in buying land in New Jersey are much better off working with an experienced agent. Working with an agent will give you “certain protections, such as the ability to get out of the contract if the property isn’t suited for construction. . . . A knowledgeable agent can often tell you whether the land is in a flood plain, whether rural water and electricity are available in that area, and what type of building restrictions are in place.”

Your agent can also craft an offer that will protect you and get you the best deal possible. “An agent can . . . write up an offer that lets you back out if the local building authority does not approve a permit to build a house or if you’re unable to secure financing to build. You’ll end up paying the agent’s commission when the transaction is complete, but it’s worth it not to get stuck with land you can’t build on.”

So don’t miss out on the benefits of working with a good agent. If buying land in New Jersey is on your agenda, contact us today at 855-966-DEAL.

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