If you’re thinking about buying a lot in Austin, there are a few things you should consider. First, can you do what you want on this lot. Are there restrictions in regards to building, use, or activities that would prohibit you from doing what you want to on this piece of property? Second, you need to consider the physical qualities of the lot. Are the inherent characteristics of this piece of land in alignment with your goals for the property? Lastly, you need to consider the man made infrastructure associated with the property- utilities and roads.
First, you want to consider what restrictions there are on the lot you are interested in purchasing. Restrictions can be imposed on a given lot for a number of different reasons; however, usually these are in place to control the appearance and quality of life of a community. Restrictions may minimal such as “no pig slaughtering facilities allowed” or they may be very specific such as “exterior of home must be constructed of limestone”. If you want to build a barnodominium on your lot, or park a tiny house on it for a few years you should definitely be paying close attention to the lot’s restrictions. So, how do you find the restrictions. Your first step should be to ask the listing agent/owner for a copy. They should be able to provide you a copy or you can ask a title company for a copy of the title commitment and associated Schedule B documents. Pay close attention to the Schedule B documents. These documents, sometimes referred to as the everything but documents, outline the areas the tile policy will not cover. Make note of any easements, these will also be shown on the survey, and make sure they will not prohibit you from doing anything you would like to do on the lot. Also, pay close attention to the building requirements. Some communities may mandate that you build on the lot within a certain time frame or have specific square footage minimums or maximums. Lastly, look out for mineral leases. If you don’t want the possibility of someone having the ability to come on your land and drill for oil at their will, make sure there is no mineral lease associated with the lot.
The physical characteristics of a lot are important to consider when purchasing land in Austin as well. Google earth will definitely be your friend when doing preliminary research on a lot you are interested in purchasing. Check to see if it’s in the floodplain. Look at the property on a topographic map to make sure it’s not a small piece of level land with a sharp cliff that covers the rest of the lot. Look to see if there are large trees that would be in the way of your dream home site, or a creek bed that doesn’t conform with your vision. MapRight is another great tool for assessing a lot’s potential from the comfort of your computer.
One of the most important considerations when deciding what lot to buy in Austin is in regards to utilities. You need to know what utilities the property currently has, and if it doesn’t have utilities you will need to determine how much it will cost to get these. Is your only option for water to drill a well? You should check with local well companies to see if it’s even possible for you to drill on your lot, and if you do, will your water be consistent? Ask about the depth of the well and anticipated gallon/minute rate. For power, you will want to find out if the power lines are already run to the property? Are they just at the street, and you will need to pay to have them brought to the home site? If so, find out how much that will cost. Additionally, consider the lot’s current accessibility to wastewater and gas if those are utilities you would like to have on your lot. Determine if your lot is easily accessible. Hopefully, your lot is located on a public road of some sort. Maybe it’s not, and your lot was just created when an owner decided to subdivide his property. Determine how much it’s going to cost to pave your driveway, and if you drive a brand new Mercedes, you may not want to purchase a lot on an unpaved road.
Buying a lot in Austin allows you flexibility. However, there are many items that will restrict the freedom you have to do what you want on your lot. Pay close attention to the restrictions, easements, and natural characteristics of a lot before you buy, and don’t forget to run the numbers. You may be able to get a great deal on an unimproved lot, but you could wind up paying a fortune on clearing and utility set-up.
If you’re considering buying a lot in the Austin area, contact me today. I’m happy to walk you through the process. Click here, if you want to see current lots available in the Austin area.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.