How to Buy Land in NC

by | Mar 11, 2024

What steps should you take if you want to buy land in North Carolina? Is there a checklist of things you need to do? What about a list of things you shouldn’t do?

Here are the TOP FIVE Things to Review if you are going to buy land:

1. ROAD FRONTAGE/ ACCESS: It’s important to look at not only how much road frontage there is, but also what the land coming off the road looks like. Is there a stream you have to cross? Is there a dirt road, gravel road, or paved road coming from where you enter onto the parcel? Do you have to use shared easements/ access roads and will those roads allow for construction trucks & materials to get through? Keep in mind if you need to create your own access road from the main road to your build site— this can cost a lot of money. On top of that, you may also need to be aware of messing with the soils in the process and affecting water quality nearby.

2. SURVEY: Get a survey completed, even if the seller has one to share from a few years ago. Make sure the surveyor is licensed and reputable.

3. SOIL EVALUATION + SEPTIC INSTALL: You can use GIS maps (Geographical Information Systems) to see what types of soils are located on the parcel. This info can give you some insight pre-contract as to whether or not you will have soil suitability. However, a soil scientist is going to be your final answer on where the land perks for a septic tank and well. From there, your septic installer can place the tank based on the soil scientist’s recommendations. (PRO TIP: You can only advertise a home’s number of bedrooms based on how many it perked for. Meaning you can build a 5 bedroom home, but if the septic only perks for 4 bedrooms, that’s what goes in MLS.)

4. ZONING/ COVENANTS: Just because you buy a 20 acre parcel doesn’t mean it can be subdivided 20 times. It’s important to review the zoning classification and see if it matches your intended usage. Also, if there are local covenants that state you can or cannot have certain size structures, types of structures, or even certain types of animals, that may change your intention to buy the property. (Pro Tip: Be aware of ETJs too. These are basically locations that still have to adhere to the city’s rules and restrictions, but are not in the city limits— just close by.)

5. LOCATION: This one sounds obvious, but it’s actually more about WHO can get to the location than the location itself. You need to know if you have vendors that are willing to help you build on this land. Sometimes costs can increase for labor/materials in an area that doesn’t cost as much to purchase. So talk to your builder, septic installer, etc. and make sure this is an area that works for timelines and budgets. Your builder might also give you great insight into how permitting in that location will go. Gather as much intel as you can before you close on a property!

Bottom line- work with an agent who understands how to review land, has a good network of contacts needed to evaluate the property during due diligence, and can craft a contract that supports your INTENDED USAGE of the property. Check out our YouTube video series for more on this topic!