Buying Off-Grid Land: Common Real Estate Issues to Avoid

Buying Off-Grid Land: Common Real Estate Issues to AvoidBuying that piece of land to live off-grid can be a dream come true. But, this dream can become a nightmare if the property turns out to be unsuitable for any of the things you intended to use it for.

To avoid surprises that can get in the way of an off-grid lifestyle, it’s important that buyers research important aspects of their purchase before they buy.

Including different ways of purchasing land and property away from cities and metropolitan areas. A few things to look at before someone commits to a property:

Make sure it isn’t land-locked.

One of the most important considerations is whether the new property owner can legally access their land once it’s been purchased. Some parcels of land do not have access to a road without passing through another person’s property. When this happens, the property is considered land-locked.

This off-grid land problem is very common; the legal advice forum on Reddit, for instance, has frequent questions about landlocked properties.

Unfortunately, if the owner of the property where the new owner must pass through to get to their property has not granted an easement, the property will remain legally inaccessible.

Check out the zoning restrictions.

Most people’s off-grid living dreams include things like livestock, chickens, off-grid power and independent options for water for people and crops.

However, it is important to make sure that all of these things are allowed on the property. Just because a property is far from any city or town does not necessarily mean that it is free from local and state zoning restrictions.

There may be rules about what structures can be erected, as well as rules about building materials and dwelling size. Some areas allow certain animals but not others.

For instance, a homeowner may be able to have hens, but not roosters, or chickens but not other farm animals like goats or pigs.

In some places, occupied residences are required by law to be connected to an electrical grid. There are also often rules about rainwater catchment and connection to sewer systems.

Other considerations should include trees and land conservation. Many areas do not allow old-growth tree cutting or clearing.

Other areas may not allow a home to be built on or near environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, aqueduct recharge or drainage areas, or in areas with a species listed on the endangered list.

Look for a clear title.

When searching for any property, it is vital to ensure that there are not multiple claims of ownership to the land. A title search can show whether there are liens or other issues that can prevent a clear title. Up to date land surveys can also ensure that all parties agree on the boundaries of a piece of land.

If there are issues with the title, these can sometimes be solved before the purchase of the land goes through, this is usually handled by a Title company.

However, it is important to discuss potential issues with a real estate lawyer and the purchaser’s real estate agent.

This way, the buyer can understand any risks associated with purchasing a specific parcel of land.

When buying land directly from a land owner, it is also vital to ensure that the person selling the land actually owns it. Proof of ownership can be shown through documentation, such as deeds or bills of sale.

Ensure that the taxes aren’t too high.

When investigating the costs associated with a piece of land, property taxes are an expense that need to be investigated.

The ideal off-grid location will typically include several acres of land. In a high tax area, this can mean a hefty property tax bill every year.

Some areas offer different tax rates depending on whether a property is considered residential or agricultural. Learning what is required to qualify for an agricultural tax rate can help save thousands of dollars in tax payments over the years.

It may be required that the land be cultivated, for instance, or that a certain threshold of agricultural income be met each year.

The off-grid lifestyle requires a certain level of grit, tenacity, knowledge and planning. By incorporating the knowledge of how to choose suitable off-grid land in their skill-set, a buyer can get themselves that much closer to fulfilling their goals of an independent off-grid life.

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