Buyer beware | Florida Growth

Buyer beware

September 29, 2009 by
Filed under: Vacant land 

Despite the real estate bubble and all the bad press, many still consider Florida to be the land of opportunity.  And since it’s a buyer’s market, you might be tempted by some of the ‘good deals’ out there.  But bad times have not diminished the number of those who would take advantage of trusting, naïve buyers so it’s very important to do your homework.

For instance, you can buy a piece of land sight unseen from various web sites and from eBay. At this writing there are 86 pieces of vacant land up for auction on eBay. The highest bid price (this doesn’t include the classifieds) was just around $22,000 and the lowest was a penny (these are tax liens – more in a future post). Even at $22k, this might sound like a deal especially if you are from the north-east where an acre of land sometimes goes for hundreds of thousands of dollars, even in these bad times. Are these opportunities to good to be true? Not at all. If you investigate further, you’ll find that in most cases you are getting exactly what you are paying for.

But before you buy (or bid), you’ll need to assess the other costs of developing and maintaining a property that might be thousands of miles away. Even if you don’t plan on developing the property, here are a few things you should consider:

 

  1. Are taxes current? If not, what are they and when are they due?
  2. Are there any liens against the property? Don’t take their word for it. Pay for a title search. You might be able to legally purchase a piece of property without doing a title search but would you want to?
  3. Is there a timeframe within which you must build?
  4. Are there utilities to the property? If not how much would it cost to have them brought in? Some parcels will never have utilities due to being part of or surrounded by protected land. If they say that you can use septic for sewage, you better confirm. If the water table is too high, you will not be allowed to use a septic tank for sewage.

If you are planning on developing the land, you’ll also need to consider the cost to build, how will you oversee the project from far away and how you’ll manage the property long-distance if you are not planning on living there year-round.

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