The Land Buying Process
The journey to buying a piece of hunting ground can be a winding path with many forks. This is especially true when critical decisions that will affect ownership need to be made. To help you understand the land buying process, we have several suggestions born of experience to help you along.
Before you even think about your budget or financing, create a wishlist. Will you use the property to hunt? A weekend getaway for the family? A small-scale hobby farm or livestock operation? These stipulations narrow the search for recreational land and can affect financing.
Let’s say your dream recreational property has a house built on it, and the value of that structure appraises for at least 50 percent of the property’s total value. There is a good chance you can get a residential loan instead of a land loan. This usually means a lower down payment, more flexibility on the term and competitive interest rates. Even a good building site on a piece of raw land can affect a financing deal, so it’s important to be clear that any property you consider can be used as you plan.
Once you have a description and clear vision of the type of property you want, do a little research on what’s available in the area where you want to buy. Our website makes it easy to search for your dream property’s exact features. Also, setting up a My Whitetail Properties account allows you to save searches and be notified when new properties hit the market. These land listings will allow you to select and compare price per acre to find the piece of land you want.
Estimate What You Can Afford
Figuring out what price bracket fits your budget is obvious to most buyers, but they often don’t consider closing costs and/or appraisal, surveying and legal fees (if needed), taxes and insurance. Not factoring in these costs strains the buyer’s budget. Plus, if you plan to build a home on the property, be sure to factor in the cost of construction, a septic system or well and other major systems of a house.
After adding all expenses, you are left with a range of prices you can afford to pay for the land itself. For example, let’s say your dream property is 100 acres with a home and barn in central Kentucky and your credit will allow you a $300,000 loan. This is where the powerful search features of Whitetail Properties come in handy. Let’s start our search for raw land only.
After selecting 16 central Kentucky counties, we get 57 results. Let’s set aside $100,000 of our budget to build a cabin or vacation home and set the max price to $200,000. Our results are now 29 properties. But we want at least 100 acres, so set the minimum acreage to 100. Five properties meet our criteria.
Now let’s say we look at properties with a home already on it. Five hunting properties meet our criteria. So, the window of land prices we are looking at is $200,000 for at least 100 acres of raw land and $300,000 for a home on 100 acres or more. At this point, there are still many unanswered questions in your land search, but with the help of a land specialist, those can be answered easily with honesty and accuracy.
Hire a Land Specialist
Up until this point, you’ve been searching for land on your own, scanning listings that meet your needs and budget. And that’s great. The more you understand the market, the better off you are when it comes time to close, but (this isn’t a marketing pitch, it’s more of a warning) it’s super important to hire professional help.
Iowa Land Specialist, Gabe Adair, considers this the most crucial step in the whole land buying process. “A lot of times you’re not familiar with the neighborhoods and the market, and real estate agents are the professionals and that’s their expertise,” he said. “Anything we deal with in everyday life, whether it’s hiring an attorney, a mechanic or a plumber, you want to find the right person for the job. Finding the right real estate agent that you value and trust, because of their knowledge and understanding of what you’re looking for is definitely a crucial aspect to finding the right piece of hunting land.”
That said, just because someone is licensed to practice real estate doesn’t mean they are the right person for the job. Rural land purchases are a whole different ballgame than closing on a house. You will rely heavily upon your hunting and farmland specialist's knowledge when buying recreational property. There are terms and concepts that will be foreign to you, but learning them is part of the fun.
The first step is finding someone you like. Read their biographies and watch any videos that may be available. You will be sharing many hours in a truck with your Land Specialist, so you’ll be thankful you hit it off from the start.
The next most important thing is the land specialist’s knowledge. They need to understand hunting, and not just pretend they’ve been out in the field a few times. They need to know dirt and water/mineral rights. They need to have experience navigating the potential roadblocks that will come up during the purchase process. And they need a track record of negotiating good deals for their clients.
The third most critical aspect is trustworthiness. When you build a relationship of trust with a land specialist who is a passionate hunter and a knowledgeable farm professional, the likelihood of finding a property that you want and can afford is excellent. Ask yourself, is the land specialist trying to sell you every piece of dirt he shows you or are they looking at every property through your eyes and only getting excited about a tract that fits your needs? Is he listening, paying attention to your reactions and understanding the vital factors beyond hunting? Obviously, every land transaction has its issues. So make sure he tells you the good and the bad. Some you will be able to live with, some you may not.
Our team covers more than 20 states and counting, and is made up of many of the finest land managers and market analysts in the rural real estate industry. We are just like you. We love to hunt. We love the land. We strive to make smart investments that benefit our families and cement financial stability.