Tips on Buying a Vacant Lot

In your home search, you may not be happy with the stock of homes on the market, but that might mean that it’s time to build the home of your dreams!

If you find yourself looking at homes and find they just don’t fit your needs or the size of the lots in the areas you like are just too small. You may also have been thinking about purchasing a new home in a planned subdivision. But again, the lots might be too small or you don’t like the builder’s designs, or having an HOA is just not your style.

With all this frustration one great option is to find a vacant lot and build your dream home! It can be tough to find just the right lot and location, but when it pays off you can end up with the lot and home of your dreams. Depending on when you’re searching,  there can be an abundance of vacant land or very little. Either way, you’ll want to consider a number of factors when eyeing a vacant lot for purchase. Let’s talk about a few:

  • Location, Location, Location – It’s the main factor in determining the value and desirability of any real estate. So make sure you are first considering where the lot is before the size or features.
  • Wetlands – An issue we run into a lot in Florida are wetlands. Many lots can be near water or water runoff areas making them wet and unbuildable. Included with the wet area are setback requirements for how close you can build to them. Each municipality has different rules so it would be smart to check if there is any inkling that a lot may have wetlands. A lot of times when you see a lot that has a great waterfront location but very cheap it means the lot is wet or unbuildable.
  • Lot of record – This can be done when under contract and the title attorney is reviewing the file. If a lot is not already platted with the county it could cost you additional fees. Sometimes lots get broken up and when one is not already platted with the county then you will have to apply and get approval for it to be so which can be time-consuming and moderately costly.
  • Fees, Fees, Fees – Many areas have instituted fees and costs when clearing land or building a new home. For example, there may be impact fees on each new house or there may be costs to remove trees on a lot and mitigate their loss.
  • Proximity to water and sewer – Unless you plan on going on well and septic you’ll want to make sure that the lot you are choosing has easy access to water and sewer lines. The farther distance you have to dig and place lines the more costly it will be.
  • Lots with houses on them – Don’t be afraid to consider a lot with an abandoned or dilapidated house on it. If the lot fits what you need it could be a great option. Since there was a home on the lot you already know the house has water/sewer capability, it is a lot of record with the county, and fees will be lessened. The cost of tearing down a house can vary on the size and location but you would be surprised that it is not as costly as you might think in the whole expense of building new.
  • Builders and plans – You’ll find that hiring an architect to draw up custom plans and have engineering done can be time-consuming and expensive. It is worth it to get what you want in the end. But if you are not looking to break architectural barriers then many times you can go with a local home builder. You can interview a number and review their current plans. Many times you can modify these plans to fit your needs at a minimal cost.
  • Financing – Lot purchases are financed a little differently than a home purchase. Most times having a relationship with a local bank is best. Since these loans are not typically re-sold on the secondary mortgage market your local bank will hold onto the loan so the requirements for qualifying may be different along with the different interest rates.


There are a lot of other factors to consider along the way but these are the main points to get you started with a lot purchase. Please feel free to reach out to me or a trusted Realtor who can help guide you in the process!