Surely you can imagine that a little due diligence at this critical time, before you sign on the dotted line, will be worthwhile. It may prevent a miscalculated purchase or even pay large dividends in your future planning or at the time of re-sale!
Should you encounter any inherent problems with the property during this time, bring them up with your real estate attorney or with the seller right away. Certainly, they should know before your deposit becomes nonrefundable, or during the time when you may cancel the contract without recourse.
Check public records of the court where the property is located. Although the settlement agent or title company will examine title, you may find some of your own research useful. Look at tax ticket information (search by parcel I.D. number or current owner’s name) to find current assessed value, annual tax bill, and whether the property is/ may continue to be part of any government land use programs. Look at deed book and page number or instrument number (also on tax ticket) of current owner’s deed to the property when previously purchased. Then you may check for deed restrictions to be sure you understand what you can and can’t do with the property.
Locate existing survey of record, and make a copy for yourself. Note names of adjoining land owners, soon to be known as “neighbors”. If no current survey exists, verify any new report of survey is exactly the property you are planning to buy. Do you expect any portion of the property to be located within 100 year flood plain?
Planning and Zoning Commissions can help you determine current zoning, any proposed changes, and they can direct you to information regarding your possible subdivision of the property. You may wish to sell your parcel in the future, and will want maximum potential for profit on re-sale. Can the property be divided for use by a family member or may a portion of it be placed on the market later? May another home or other structure be built (that would increase the value of your other acreage)?
Obtain the results of any testing done on the property prior to closing. Make sure the property perks if no well and septic exists or if there is no access to public utilities. What is the condition of available water? Soil? What are the results of termite, hazardous materials, lead paint tests (if applicable)?
Review results of title examination and commitment with your real estate attorney. Note any exceptions to a final title insurance policy- ask for professional recommendation.
Are you required to be a member of any associations as owner of this property? Know what will be expected of you.
There may be other important items related to your purchase which require your follow- up. Decide what knowledge is important to you, then be as informed as possible.