More due diligence is needed when purchasing undeveloped land than any other property type. This requires the buyer to have the right vision for the property, research skills, ability to put together and manage a team of experts and fortitude to overcome any hurdles that may be placed in front of him or her and keeping the sights on the finish line. It is also more important than ever to hire the right broker to help guide you through the process and look out for your interests every step of the way,
Imperative Land Considerations Land ownership alternatives around Steamboat Springs vary as widely as its surrounding terrain. Furthermore, there is a great deal of research to conduct to make sure the land parcel you want to own matches your intentions. There are many factors that come into play, making it imperative to have an experienced Exclusive Buyer’s Broker (EBA) like myself to guide you throughout the process. With parcels being somewhat scarce in one form or another, land buyers need to act more quickly than condo buyers (where several similar units may be available). I recommend clients first getting a property under contract quickly while placing an adequate amount of contingencies in the contract to allow sufficient due diligence.
The following are several important elements to consider when seeking a rural or in-town parcel:
Zoning & Covenants You may fall in love with a location and lot, but your intended use may not conform with regulations. Carefully consider what is an allowable use for the property before you get emotionally or financially attached.
Access Make sure you have legal access via public street or easement. Even though there is a road to the property, it doesn’t mean it is legal to use.
Utilities There are less unknowns with an in-town lot, where water, sewer, electric, phone and perhaps natural gas connections are readily available, than a country parcel. If your lot is located within city limits, chances are good you are entitled to utility hookups. However, never assume connections are available, and check with the utility provider to make sure you’re able to connect. Also, be aware of "tap fees" associated with accessing these services.
Property Burdens Make sure you obtain a survey of the property showing the legal boundaries of the property identifying any easements and rights-of-way burdening the property, as well as homeowner association covenants, conditions and restrictions.
Water In rural settings, a well will need to be installed for domestic water use. Tapping into an underground water source in Routt County is trickier than in most mountain areas. The number of natural springs in our area may be a clue to the geological dynamics lying beneath the surface. There are also several local water aquifers with high sulfur content, however this is not the end of the world as this condition can be treated.
Septic To handle household wastewater, septic systems need to be installed where sewer services are unavailable. An Individual Sewage Disposal System (ISDS) will need to be professionally engineered, then permitted by Routt County. Per current County building regulations, a lot needs to be at least five acres in size to accommodate an ISDS. However, some subdivisions created prior to this mandate may be exempt. The Routt County Health Department can provide information in this regard. Owners of lots less than five acres can construct a ‘vault system’ that holds the wastewater in a container, which is required to be emptied (pumped) when reaching 85% capacity. The cost to pump the vault is not cheap and can occur between once a week (for heavy use) to a minimum of once per year (per County regulations).
Lot Consolidations There are two main reasons why a real estate buyer would want to purchase and assemble or consolidate contiguous lots; to create a larger parcel for greater use and enjoyment, or, to create a parcel large enough (5+ acres) to permit a septic system and avoid the cost of vault pumping. This latter practice has been most common in the Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake areas where lots less than five acres in size were created without septic services. These lots are attractive to many buyers due to their relatively inexpensive price tag but do take time and money to receive building approval.
Architectural Guidelines Most subdivisions have architectural guidelines. If there are guidelines, a quick visual survey of the surrounding homes will give you a good idea if the house you have in mind, as well as the type of use, will conform.
Title Work Carefully review the title commitment to ensure clear title will pass and also to identify any potential clouds, defects or encumbrances. Some of these may be complicated and an attorney may be needed.
More than any other real estate purchase, there are many variables to consider when buying land. As your personal Steamboat Springs buyers broker I will be your best ally when looking for the right parcel that meets your needs.