The second step to getting your dream log home is to have the right land lot. Of course, if you already have land then you can mark this step off and move onto choosing the right team for your project. However, our experience is that many people dream of a log home, but struggle to find the right land. As a result we felt it was worthwhile to offer some guidance on the subject.
Pinning Down the Location
In some cases folks consider building their forever home in the same state they currently live in which case, as a local, it is much easier to know where you want to build and quite possibly get a lead on a piece of land sometimes even before it goes on the market. More often than not however, families are looking to relocate to a different area altogether. Relocating is a huge undertaking, especially if you are unfamiliar with the exact destination. Here are a few things to think about if you are researching different states:
- Building codes and restrictions
- Water rights or any laws regulating water (this could be on a state and local level)
- Job availability may be a consideration
- Schools or homeschool laws
- Weather patterns
- Access to activities you enjoy
- Average land prices
- Access to general contractors and subcontractors in your time frame for building
- Rental prices (in case you end up renting a home while you build)
- Proximity to social activities or entertainment
- The political environment (if that is important to you)
Once you have narrowed down a few prospective regions, spend time researching the towns. It is recommended to take a vacation to the places you are considering so you can get a feel for them. While there, scout out a couple of properties and talk to realtors to get a feel for the market and availability. Check out the local scene and strike up a conversation with people like restaurant servers or grocery store clerks to find out their thoughts about living in that town.
At some point you will feel confident about the general area you want to look for property. Having a list of “must haves” that you want your choice land to have is very helpful in narrowing the search. Additionally, Making sure the land is buildable is a huge factor that many people unknowingly overlook.
Here are some things to look out for that can make a lot unbuildable. Lack of water, lack of utilities, restricted access (especially in winter), easements or zoning restrictions, and sometimes even neighbors if you share a driveway or well.
Using a realtor to buy property can be helpful, especially if you are moving out of state; however, not all realtors are acquainted with land purchases and construction requirements. We strongly encourage you to work with a realtor that specializes in land sales and better yet, one that has experience with new builds. This can really help you avoid pitfalls.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you buy to help get clear on what you want…
- Do you envision your dream house in a field or on a mountain side?
- Do you wish to have running water on your property?
- Do you prefer a lot of trees or open space?
- How close to town do you wish to be? How big or small is the nearest town?
- Do they have ambulance and fire recourses to your property?
- Do you wish to grow food or raise animals? (Make sure the land is usable)
- How many aces do you think you need/want?
How to Buy Land
Not finding land is literally one of the Three Log Home Dream Killers for obvious reasons. It can be challenging to find the land with the amenities you desire in the price you want to spend. There are a few ways to go about finding your desired parcel…
- Work with a qualified realtor that deals in land sales and development. One tip would be to ask your realtor to include in your agreement that if you find land on your own you do not need to pay a commission, unless you use the realtor to handle the paperwork. One reason for this is because you may find a seller who is selling without a realtor and who may even be willing to carry the loan for you.
- Scouting websites like FSBO.com, Landwatch.com, craigslist, local newspapers, and other real estate websites.
- Guerilla tactics: A couple of unconventional ways to find a land prospect would be to network with locals to see who they know that may be thinking about selling. Or, you could post an ad in the local newspaper that you are looking to buy. Another idea would be to scout a lot you like in an area you prefer and look up public records to find the owner. Then mail them a letter expressing your interest in buying. Oftentimes people have bought land to build on “someday,” but their someday isn’t soon enough and they may be fed up with paying the yearly taxes. Your offer may just come at the right time!
Paying cash for land certainly makes the buying process much easier and sometimes the price much sweeter. However, if that is not totally feasible in your situation, you may find that finding a seller willing to carry the financing is a great way to go, although it can be more challenging and you may find your choices are less plentiful.
As we mentioned before we also make a point of staying connected with industry resources to help our customers whenever the need arises. We have found lenders that are willing to lend on log home construction and some even will include the land purchase in the loan. Please reach out to us if you need a referral.
Once the land is secure, the next step is to acquire the right team to help you design and build your dream home!