Beginners Guide to Buying Land in Florida
If it’s your first time buying land, you might be overwhelmed. Don’t worry, that’s normal. In fact, in 2020, I was in your shoes, and most definitely in over my head. So here’s my definitive guide for first-time and expert land owners. This is my beginner’s guide to buying land in Florida!
Every state has its advantages and disadvantages when purchasing land, and Florida is no exception. Florida is a great destination to acquire rural land because of its lovely flat properties, sunny environment, stunning beaches, picturesque wetlands, and hardy pine woods. Additionally, it has grown to be a well-known “state of pandemic relocation,” which means that competition for rural land in convenient areas can be fierce.
Purchasing land is a significant financial commitment, so take your time, research, and be as thorough as possible. Don’t just jump in and buy the first piece of cheap land you discover in Florida. Although the cost of land in Florida is gradually rising each year, there are still several counties where you may purchase a piece of land for a reasonable price. Make sure to ascertain the exact purpose of the land, such as house construction, homesteading, mobile home, etc.
Want to learn more about buying land? We’ve got a detailed guide for tiny houses, buying land online, and buying a homestead!
10 Tips For Buying Land in Florida
Tip 1: Mineral Rights
Florida has a lot of mining going on, which not many people are aware of. This state mines everything from sulfur to oil, gas, and other materials. Due to this, many residential plots of land don’t have mineral rights. This frequently happens because the owners sell the land’s mineral rights to make some fast cash. The purchase of the parcel does not guarantee the possession of the mineral rights to the property. The last thing you want is for a corporation with such rights to begin digging on your land.
I recommend double and triple-checking all land for mineral rights.
Tip 2: Contact the Property Owner Directly
Make sure the person selling the land or other real estate is authorized to do so or is the owner of the property. Trust me; there are many scams involving purchasing real estate or land. By looking at the tax records for the property at Florida Revenue, you may readily locate this information. Even if a real estate agent is involved in the sale, that doesn’t guarantee that the seller has the legal authority to sell the property. Just be careful for scams when buying land in Florida!
Tip 3: Wetlands and Flood Zones
The county GIS maps, FEMA flood maps, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service can all be used to locate Florida’s wetlands and designated flood zones. A piece of land may not currently be a wetland or a flood zone, but that doesn’t guarantee it won’t be in the future. Without your consent, county officials may declare all or a portion of your property a wetland or a floodplain.
You can purchase a lovely piece of land classified for residential or mixed-use, only to find out in a few years that it has been turned into a wetland or a flood zone. If you can look at flood zone maps from previous decades, you will get a good notion of how quickly they are growing or contracting and will see that flood zones tend to expand yearly. You can get these through the neighborhood library or by asking your real estate agent.
Tip 4: Back Taxes
Verify that the land parcel you wish to purchase is free and clear of any outstanding debts, including unpaid property taxes. You must pay these back after purchasing the land or property, especially if you intend to build a house. You may be able to use this as a negotiating tool if the property has a debt of some kind. However, you should only do this if you are confident about the laws and regulations. In other words, do your research before buying land in Florida!
Tip 5: Empty Subdivisions
If the county where the land is located subdivides it, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the county will provide a building permit. This frequently occurs if the neighborhood’s county cannot provide services and utilities. Although this may change with time, it could mean waiting years for a permit. I recommend using Google Maps to look at the area. If you notice a lot of subdivisions but no houses constructed, stay away from the land. If you notice a few houses, this is typically a positive sign.
Tip 6: Land Zoning
Knowing the zoning that applies to a plot of property is crucial. Larger plots of land may have more than one zoning—which can be tricky to figure out. The zoning determines where you can build and how you can use the land. Find out where the residential or mixed zonings are on the land plot if you want to build a house there. You cannot build a house there if the land plot has no residential or mixed zoning.
Tip 7: Road Access
You must confirm that you either own the road access to the plot of land or have permission to use it. I advise against purchasing a piece of land if it cannot be legally accessed. Regarding road access, verbal agreements are typically upheld, but they can be dangerous.
When I bought my property, I had an easement to my land. I made sure that the person whose land I went through, signed a legal document saying I had access to the road.
Tip 8: HOA Restrictions
In some parts of Florida, there are HOAs. Some function as intended, but others can make your life a living hell. The land may still be covered by an HOA even if it is relatively out of the way. Every HOA has a set of rules that usually dictate the kind of house you can erect. The real estate agent or the HOA can provide you with the rules and regulations for the HOA. Typically, I recommend staying away from an HOA.
Tip 9: Alternative Housing Regulations
There are various housing limitations in Florida’s many counties. This shouldn’t be an issue if you want to build a standard house, but if you want to build a different kind of house, you will need to know which counties permit them. For instance, some counties forbid RVs, mobile homes, or compact dwellings. If you want to construct an alternative home, hunt for a piece of property in one of the Florida counties that permits such construction.
Tip 10: Access to Utilities
You must determine your options if the property lacks access to utilities, such as water. There will be some limitations if you live off the grid, but you might wish to dig a well or collect rainwater. Before you purchase the land, learn about any restrictions, especially if you intend to homestead and live off the grid.
Top Questions About Buying Land in Florida:
What Does Rural Land in Florida Typically Cost?
Like the cost of a standard home, the price of a plot of land can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the land’s location, its characteristics, its accessibility, any unique amenities, its level of development, proximity to resources, and more.
The following variables were taken into account when determining the price for properties in Nassau County, Florida:
- Comparable prices from the sale of commercial real estate.
- Sales and rival properties from different brokers.
- Market listings for “For Sale By Owner” properties.
- The USDA’s free report, “Land Values Summary,” provides information on the average cost of farmland by category and state, including farm real estate, cropland, pastureland, and farmland and buildings. While your Realtor or land agent will be your best source of information, you can get a general sense of rural Florida farmland prices from this report.
Although it doesn’t give a price breakdown by county, it will give a general overview of Florida’s average rural agricultural pricing.
How Long Does it Take To Buy Land in Florida?
Purchase times might differ significantly depending on your contract’s unique terms. Here are four examples to get an understanding of the standard closing time:
Situation 1: Cash
Closing can happen in 30 days or less if the purchase is a cash sale. Typically the quickest way to buy property is with cash.
Situation 2: Fulfilling Demands
Closing times are impacted because some purchasers need longer (30–60 days) due diligence periods to thoroughly check out the property and ensure it fulfills their demands.
Situation 3: Land Financing
Financing can greatly impact how long it takes to close. We have the impression that the lenders occasionally fail to acknowledge the passing of contractual time. We anticipate closing two months after the contract’s effective date if the buyer expects to get financing. It can take at least three months if a lender is financing a “land/home” package in which they will be financing both the land and a mobile home.
How to Get Utilities to a Rural Property in Florida?
You will require electricity and access to clean water unless you want your property to remain a completely undeveloped refuge (or live off grid).
Starting with electricity… you need to find out who the supplier is in your area. You can find out how to accomplish this by asking your agent or seller or looking for the electricity company’s name on the nearest pole.
Once you’ve decided on the business you’ll be utilizing, get in touch with them for a quote. Where you decide to build your home may be influenced by the cost per foot the company will charge for providing power from the closest source to your land.
Depending on your land and home’s location, you can also need easements from neighbors to access their electricity poles. Electricity installation costs differ significantly from one company and locale to another. By doing some cost research in advance, you can be ready and prevent any unexpectedly high charges.
The second is water. You must drill a well for drinking water on most rural Florida properties. Although the price will vary from county to county, Florida wells normally don’t require extensive digging.
As an illustration, we received quotes from regional Bradford County, Florida, contractors ranging from $1,000 for a shallow well (50–100 feet) to as much as $7,000 for a deep well with better water (100 feet and up).
Depending on the county, testing for pollutants, minerals, etc., may or may not be necessary.
The Centers for Disease Control advise getting your well water tested at least once a year for coliform bacteria, nitrates, and other regional contaminants. Additionally, before using, you might want to request more thorough testing for pesticides, heavy metals, etc.
- Be careful to look for counties permitting alternative housing if you wish to live on the property.
- Verify that you have permission to enter the property before buying land in Florida!
- Find out what form of zoning the site has; larger land parcels can have multiple types of zoning.