LAND BUYING CHECKLIST- DUE DILIGENCE
Everyone’s dream is having a parcel of land be it an eighth, five acres or several thousands. Land ownership is the surest investment there is. They say the best investment on earth is earth. Land investment holds intrinsic value to the owner and signifies permanence in society
It is of importance to ensure that the land you want to purchase will provide the enjoyment that you are seeking.Doing thorough research of the property before getting into any form of agreement is key. This is what we call due diligence. It gives you surety that the property is clean and satisfies all your criteria
So, what should a prospective buyer consider? The following is the first of a three-part list of key items to get one started on the due diligence process.
This is perhaps the most critical characteristic influencing value. The nature and extent of access dictates the type of uses the parcel can offer. Does the parcel front a publicly-maintained road with power and utilities? Does the parcel have a deeded right-of-way across an adjacent landowner? Does the condition of the road surface (e.g. gravel vs. pavement) relegate it to seasonal or year-round use? Research the access thoroughly and understand all the associated benefits and limitations to be sure you can use the parcel as you envision.
Parcel boundary markings exist in many forms and, in some cases, not at all. Always inquire first if a survey exists. It doesn’t necessarily have to be registered at the county registry of deeds, but it must have the imprint of a licensed surveyor to be legitimate. If no survey exists, start with the deed description and obtain a copy of the map. However, beware of the latter source as most municipal tax maps are meant for general location reference and not boundary identification.
Many boundaries also exist in the form of stonewalls and/or barbed wire. Such boundaries are more common in southern and central New England but less so in northern regions where large forested tracts have been managed for their timber for decades.
When physical evidence and legal documentation is lacking or uncertain, a licensed surveyor may be necessary to locate and re-mark the boundaries. Don’t be afraid to engage a professional to help you ascertain the parcel boundaries. It will be money well spent.
A registered deed is the most important document to review. The seller or his/her broker can provide you with a copy. In some cases, you may need to obtain one from the lands registry.
The deed confirms the owner’s identity, who they purchased it from, and when. Most importantly, it provides a physical description of the property,
Read the deed carefully more than once and understand what is for sale, where it’s located, and any encumbrances that may exist. It is strongly advised that an attorney review the deed prior to sale, often done as a contract contingency, and that they conduct a thorough title search to ensure a “clean, marketable” title. There is no substitute for sound legal review in the acquisition process.