by Ella Tzinberg, Buyer Specialist
We get questions about purchasing vacant land and building a house quite often. While it might seem simple, we’re here to help guide you through the process and help to explain steps that are slightly different from purchasing an existing home. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help you decide if building on rural land is the right fit for you.
Is buying land the same as buying a house?
When I get this question, my first question to them is: will you be financing the property or purchasing with cash? The reason I ask this question is to help clients understand the difference between traditional mortgage vs land loan. Some larger financial institutions will not finance raw land. We recommend talking to local credit unions like Carolina Farm Credit to get a good baseline of your options. They can help you decide what type of loan will be best for you, how many acres they will finance, whether you can wrap the construction of your home into this loan, and what interest rates you can expect.
What kind of inspections should I expect?
Before putting an offer on a property, there is lots to investigate ahead of time. Our team will do a lot of back end research to discover any deed restrictions, easements, steep slope restrictions or floodplain areas. This will help us narrow down your search and identify only the best properties for you! Once we identify the right parcel of land, we begin our own investigation on the ground. We always recommend a survey of the property. This way you can get an up to date view of the property and the surveyor will flag the boundaries so you know what’s yours. The next inspection we recommend is a perc test (also known as a percolation test). A perc test determines the water absorption rate of the soil (or the percolation rate) and is essential to finding out whether a septic system can be installed and where. This is performed by the environmental health department in the county where the property lies. This service can range anywhere between $200 – $600 depending on the county and the requirements of the individual health department. It involves the purchaser or seller to dig a pit with either a backhoe or by hand. Again, each county has its own requirements and we are here to help you navigate what needs to be done per the county instructions.
I want long range views of the mountains. What are the challenges of building on steep slopes?
One of the best parts of living in Western North Carolina is the gorgeous mountain views! Sometimes the best views are at the peak of a mountain or on a ridgeline at the very top of a slope, which can pose its own challenges. When considering building on top of a mountain, I like to start with sharing the steep slope ordinance information for that county. Buncombe County has a great resource that can be found HERE and a steep slope calculator HERE where you can put in your parcel identification number and it will give you the percentage of slope grade. Another challenge in building on a steep slope is improvements such as the driveway and grading the build site. If there is no flat, direct access to the build site, building a roadbed will likely involve switchbacks up the mountain. Driveways of great length and grade can be costly so it is important to include that in your initial budget.