If you are in the market of buying vacant land you should do research on the history of how that property developed throughout the years. Maybe you only want to satisfy your curiosity, however this is extremely important in any case, especially if you plan on building a house or any other type of construction.
Digging through the history of your property can take a while, but the results are worth the time and patience. Below is a guide with steps to follow to conduct successful research of your land.
Consult With An Inspector
You might not be able to inspect all the nooks and crannies of the land you are buying. This is why asking a professional to take over might be a wise idea. They can do extensive research of the entire history of the property and give a clear idea of whether that is the land you want to purchase and if it is going to serve for your intended use.
Ask the Neighbors
In case there are people living around the property you plan on buying, they can be a good resource of information as well. So, as you walk around the neighborhood, approach people and ask questions to determine if the land is right for you. This way you will also feel the vibe of the neighborhood, and they might save you a lot of time and money if you tried to find all the answers by yourself.
Zoning restricts the uses of land and buildings, and determines what you can do with the land once you buy it. Zoning laws also regulate the dimensional requirements for lots and buildings and the density of development as well. The most commonly used groups of zoning are commercial, industrial, residential, and agricultural.
Although the laws of zoning are universal to some extent, they do have their classification differences, which is why you need to do this research locally, on a county or municipal level.
Consult a Zoning Office
A simple way to find the zoning category and subcategory of the land you intend to buy is by asking for a copy of your local ordinance at the local zoning office, city hall, or some other local planning board. Another helpful tool is the zoning map that shows what the zoning ordinance is and the overall zoning plan.
While this shouldn’t be difficult to obtain, if question arise on the permitted uses of the land it is recommended you get professional help. Hire an attorney who is familiar with the local zoning law, as they can explain the zoning plan and laws and hopefully find ways to obtain permission which will allow you to expand the use of your property from the local zoning board.
Visit the Local Library
If you decide to do research on your own, visiting the local library can be a great place to start. You may find a plethora of information in local history publications, or even by going through old newspapers. The later ones might hold insights into events at the address you are researching or will give you a general sense of the neighborhood and town where you want to buy land.
There are sites which provide valuable information regarding the land you are looking for – one being the Historical Land Records Viewer. You can also find a range of titling related records online, or over the counter at LPI, through LPI public terminals, State Records, State Library and through approved information brokers.