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What you need to know about buying land


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Thinking about building your dream home? If so, one of the first steps you’ll need to take is finding an ideal piece of land where you can bring your vision to life.
 
Although finding land may not be difficult, there’s more to consider beyond location and size when choosing the right land to build on.
 
With a little bit of research and the right amount of due diligence, you can avoid unwelcome surprises and find yourself staking claim to your perfect piece of property.
 
So, what should you consider before buying?
 
Understand the lay of the land  
A land survey is one of the best tools you can use to make an informed purchase. A survey will give you an accurate snapshot of property lines and allow you to identify any potential boundary issues or unknown easements.
 
Always ask if a topographic survey is available for you or your builder to view. A topographic survey accurately depicts elevation changes and will give you a more complete picture of the property. Understanding elevation helps to assess flooding issues, drainage, and what potential site work will be needed to build your home.
 
Zoning restrictions and covenants  
Make sure you have a firm understanding about any land restrictions on the property before you buy. There are a diverse number of zones in most municipalities that can limit building your dream home through regulations and covenants on house proportions, construction, land usage restrictions, building aesthetics, and more. Some common restrictions are:

  • Specific requirements as to the type of buildings allowed

  • Restrictions on building setbacks from the streets and other boundaries

  • Size and height of buildings

  • Number of rooms

 
The best course of action is to:
1. Have your construction plan ready before you buy, and;
2. Contact your municipality to ensure the land and residential restrictions fit your plan  

Utilities 
What public utilities are available? Does the property have access to water, sewer, electricity, and gas? What about communication infrastructure – internet and cellular?
 
Make a checklist and confirm all of the services accessible on the property. For properties without municipal services, water and sewer can be added through well drilling and installing a septic system, however this comes with an added cost to your build.
 
Location, location, location 
Location is important and a major driver behind most people’s land purchases. And with good reason too. Where you decided to build your home will dictate:

  • Your child’s school district

  • What your commute to work will look like

  • The amount of privacy you’ll have

  • Access to green space

  • Daily noise level

  • Who your neighbours will be

 
If you’re not completely familiar with the location, take the time to research the district, view the property during different points of the day, walk the neighbourhood, or even consider renting a home in the area and testing it out before committing to building your home.
 
Tax obligations 
Whether you’re buying vacant land to build on immediately or holding onto it as an investment for the future, it’s important to understand your annual tax obligations on the property. This information can be accessed through your municipality and is important to consider when piecing together a home affordability budget.
 
Down payment and mortgage 
Once you have a signed agreement of sale you’ll need to finance your purchase.
 
Down payment requirements on vacant land differ from those on a home purchase. While both are based on a percentage of appraised value, the down payment on a parcel of land varies depending on situational factors like readiness to build.
 
If you don’t have immediate plans to build on the vacant land the down payment required could be as much as 50% of the purchase price. It’s best to speak to a Meridian Advisor to evaluate your best financing options.
 
And your mortgage? There are a number of great mortgage options available to help make your home building dreams a reality.
 
Make an informed choice 
Once you’ve found that perfect piece of land, speak with a Meridian Mortgage Specialist to learn about your down payment obligations and make an informed choice when it comes to financing your dream home.

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