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Buying vacant land 101?

26846 Views 22 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Cal
Looking for checklist of things to do to buy vacant land without me (as buyer) or seller needing to engage lawyers.

Also, how (I am assuming I should) do I confirm that seller has no liens? Can CRA put lien land I might buy from seller if seller has outstanding income taxes?

Can municipality put lien on land I might buy from seller if seller has outstanding income taxes?

Jurisdiction is NFLD

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Here's a checklist I used to compare properties when I was buying vacant land in NS. I ruled out a few places based on this and learned a lot by talking to pros (well diggers, septic guys, power guys, municipal offices). I cobbled it together from a few places on the net and added some lessons I learned along the way. I still used a lawyer when I finally found a place and got title insurance as well

Enjoy! :)

*** Vacant Lot Checklist

x acres
feet ocean frontage
road frontage

Check Municipal Land Use Bylaw
Is already subdivided?
Lawyer to confirm

Access to Property
Public or private road?

Protective Covenants
Are there any protective covenants (as implemented by the developer)?

Services available
Power: available. Check approximate distance to lot.

Phone? Check approximate distance to lot.

Water: assume drilled well. See what is registered with DOE. Get estimate from well driller.

Septic: assume onsite C3. Ask the owner if a percolation test has been done for a sewage disposal system. If not, have a percolation test contingency clause inserted in the contract of sale. Get estimate for C3 septic system.

Natural Gas: No

Building Site
Is the land easy enough to build on (check with a trusted contractor)?
Driveway in – gravel?
Steep slope/erosion controlled area (shoreline) – soil erosion control restrictions
Site line protected (building height limited to 25 feet)
Any water front restrictions? Setbacks? Check with municipality

Any changes to zoning planned? Check with municipality. Reviewed Land Use and Secondary planning docs looks OK

Expert Opinion
Consider using a building consultant and Real Estate Lawyer

Check if included in price

Days on Market:
Get selling price for comparables from realtor

* Taxes? Check if taxes are capped and willreset to market on sale

* Review Property Deed and Title

* Will the property accommodate a walk-out or daylight basement? (Beware of severe sloping grades which may require additional foundation).

*How big is the lot? Will it accommodate your new dream home?

*Will the property accommodate the desired home placement - such as side load garages or other layout considerations?

*Are there minimum amenities required by the neighborhood?

*Has the property been surveyed and the boundaries clearly identified? Ask seller to provide valid survey

*Are there any recorded easements that need to be considered?

*Does the property have a large enough area designated to build your home based on the survey? (This is also known as the building envelope).

*Is there any clearing of the lot needed in order to proceed with construction, or any other objects that may need to be removed prior to construction?

*Is the property located on undisturbed soil or does it require additional soil engineering?

*Is there any evidence of wetland plants located on the property, such as cattails, or any evidence of a high water table?

*Check with the planning board to determine what type of development is planned in the area.

*Determine if there are oil or gas leases on the property.

*Check with the town building or zoning department to find out: What building and other permits are required and the zoning requirements that will have to be satisfied--minimum square footage, minimum lot size and minimum frontage.

*Check to see if the property is in a flood zone.

*Determine whether state, county or local subdivision regulations have been met.

*Make sure that the contract of sale indicates the lot's dimensions and size. The contract should also require the seller to have the lot staked by a surveyor.

*Check for signs of hazardous waste dumping by having an environmental study done.

*If public water is not available, obtain an estimate from a well digger.

*If the property is in an agricultural district, farming activities may cause noise, dust and odors.

*Insert a contract provision stating that the contract is subject to your attorney's approval as to form and content

What to look for in a Oceanfront Home taking into consideration future Water levels rising and or Tidal Surge damage due to hurricanes. Look for atleast 2.5 Meter or 7.5 ft vertical setback from the high tide mark for any home foundation. I seriously doubt that global warming will affect the average home's flooding potential on the Ocean by more than 6 inches in the coming 50 years. The biggest risk is Hurricane damage.

One must exercise caution when looking at purchasing a property that has very little elevation. Our new rules in Nova Scotia for developers is such that no part of the property may be altered inside of 60 ft from the high tide mark and also the 7.5 ft. mark. This is new legislation and affects septic systems and new home setback as well.

As far as septic systems go. In Nova Scotia the septic system is not grandfathered.-ie: If you buy a home with oceanfront or not - If the septic system fails and you don't have clearances from existing wells and watercourses you will automatically have to get an engineered field put in. These run close to $30,000 CDN.
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