How To Buy A Block Of Land

HOW TO BUY A BLOCK OF LAND – THE COMPLETE GUIDE

PART 1 – 10 Tips To Narrowing Down Your Search For An Ideal Block

Considering buying a block but don’t know where to start? Use these all-important 10 tips from an experienced agent to learn how to buy a block of land and to help narrow down your search to save you a lot of frustration and time.

TIP 1:

Speak to a good financial advisor before you start searching for any property. Their services are free and you will know exactly where you stand financially. 

TIP 2:

Know the amount you want to spend and don’t go over that budget – ever.

TIP 3:

Draw up a list of NEED and WOULD LIKE to narrow down what you really want. If it doesn’t tick all of the NEED boxes, move on immediately. 

TIP 4:

Decide on minimum and maximum square meters and stick to that. If you don’t you will be running in circles and never make up your mind. 

TIP 5:

Know the style you want to build and ensure that the blocks you’re looking at will be suitable for that style. This is important for you will find like-minded people in your neighbourhood. This makes for a more cohesive community, so a more contented area for you to live. The wrong decision will cost money. 

TIP 6:

If you know you want something quiet, don’t consider anything near a main road or where a lot of traffic can be found, no matter whether it’s cute or a bargain. Narrow down your search to your needs list only.

TIP 7:

You retain/grow your money in blocks by finding something “rare”. An average block will take a long time to become a “good investment” as there’s too much competition. 

TIP 8:

You can change the building etc over time – but you cannot change the position. Position is everything. Consider building smaller and add quality finishes. 

TIP 9:

Always, always, always consider resale value in the future in everything property related. It’s a major investment that you can’t afford to get wrong. 

TIP 10:

Ensure your plans will suit your 10/15-year plan. Consider your age and physical health. Steps, hills, double storeys, size of land etc. A forced sale through changed circumstances is never a good thing.

PART 2 – 8 Important Factors To Consider Before You Buy

1. Shape & Location

Don’t just focus on the size of the land you’re buying – the shape of the site is vitally important too. Irregular blocks can offer exciting opportunities to create an impressive home, wide blocks offer the opportunity for amazing street-appeal and deep blocks offer the opportunity to create fantastic garden spaces. However, elongated, battle-axe or angular blocks can offer problems for the unwary. An expert architect or builder is required to maximise these blocks without wasted space.

Avoid a position too close to the entrance of an estate as you will have more traffic passing. Cul-de-sacs are more popular but beware of “headlighting” when car lights sweep across windows, which can be a problem for properties at the end of a cul de sac.

Locations near or overlooking a park are always more in demand than regular blocks. In general, blocks on the higher side of the street or slope are more popular to avoid problems with water runoff in stormy weather, but watch out for the added costs when building on a slope. A block with a view is always a bonus, while corner blocks can more easily be subdivided if that is your long-term goal.

If you’re going to buy a block of land because of the views and there’s lots of vacant land around it, do thorough homework to ensure that you won’t lose the views in the future. Speak to the local council and find out what height restrictions there might be or if there’s a future plan for a new development that would obstruct your views. You might be overlooking a lovely natural forest now, but it might be earmarked for a future development. Spend time on investigating as much as you can to avoid great disappointment in the future. Don’t rely on hearsay.

Consider getting a BAL assessment done on the block if there’s a lot of trees in or around the area as it might add considerable costs to building your dream home. A BAL assessment is used for planning and building purposes to determine whether a building or development requires additional bushfire risk management measures to address the threat of bushfire to the development. For more information click this link https://www.dplh.wa.gov.au/information-and-services/state-planning/bushfire-planning-reform/how-do-these-changes-affect-me

Be aware that there may be restrictions on removing trees on the block that could prove expensive, so do your homework.

If you’re buying a block as an investment with no intention of building in the near future, then look for something rare and out of the ordinary. There will be a lot less competition when the time is ripe to sell at a profit.

blue & green shapes

2. Consider Slope And Soil Type

We all know that blocks with a steep gradient without retaining walls, will incur higher building costs. Sandy and light soils may need reinforcement even over small gradients, and thick clay or rocky soils may incur costly excavation and tipping costs.

I strongly recommend having a soil test performed by a qualified engineer (Australian Standard 2870) before you buy any land as the house’s foundations can ultimately depend on the type of soil that it’s built on. Failing to spend a little bit of money could incur extra costs for earthworks and land retention that you might not have budgeted for.

3. Look For Ground-Water

Damp blocks may require additional drainage, even across garden areas, while the costs or suitability of underground garaging or building can vary enormously depending on the wetness of the site.

4. Orientation

Most vacant blocks tend to look sunny and elevated to the inexperienced buyer. Get an expert’s opinion on the block’s exposure to sun, wind and rain as it will affect the home you want to build as well as the lifestyle you’ll live.  North-south alignment and north-facing backyards are the most popular choices.

5. Check On Services

While most blocks in established areas are fully-serviced, you can’t automatically assume that all services are available. Blocks on new estates, in rural and remote areas will often incur additional costs. Contact utility companies to check the cost of connecting the block of land to water, gas and electricity if the service connections are not included. Don’t forget to ask about internet connection.

6. Check Out The Neighbourhood

Your re-sale and enjoyment are dependent on the neighbourhood you purchase in. Like-minded people will greatly add to the enjoyment of your home and environment.

Take into consideration the location and quality of the surrounding homes and consider whether the style of home you want is appropriate for the area. Consider distances to shops, transport, entertainment and schools and if it would suit your family’s needs and lifestyle choices now and in the future.

Green neighthood surrounded by trees

7. Uncover And Understand Easements And Impediments

Check the Certificate of Title carefully as it will list easements and encumbrances. Ensure that you get full copies of all the details stated on the title deed. Visit the Council and approach the relevant bodies to discover whether there are other encumbrances on your land that might not reflect on the title deed – and find out exactly what they mean. A lot of the easements and encumbrances cover many pages, so it’s easy for the layman to miss a crucial point. Consider taking it to your settlement agent or solicitor to check as they are experts in this field.

An easement in the backyard may be a small thing unless it happens to be where you want to put the pool or ancillary building, while a road-widening order may not affect how you use the block today but could be vitally important to whether you can profitably sell your home in the future. Check with local council if there are any future developmental plans that could influence your enjoyment of the land – now or in the planned future.

8. Documentation

Check and recheck the documentation relating to your land purchase. If you are purchasing subject to certain conditions, make sure that all the details are correct and fully recorded in the purchase documents. Once again, your settlement agent should be able to advise on all legal jargon and terms before you sign any paperwork. It is extremely important that you fully understand what the terms mean. 

Blue & Green office files

In Summary:

If the block you are pre-qualified to buy ticks all your “Need” boxes, is rectangular, flat, with full street frontage, in a flood-free area away from bushland and without trees, with access to all services and with stable soil then congratulations. If you also have a view or a pleasant outlook with limited competition in the future then, in my opinion, you’ve struck pay-dirt.

If you need any help in determining what best will suit your needs when buying a block, or want to sell a block in the Albany and Denmark area, consider working with experienced Albany Real Estate Agents or Denmark Real Estate Agents from Jess Adams @realty. Please fill in the form below or give us a call to discuss your needs.

Consultation is free and we’d be happy to help.

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