Top 5 Best Practices when you’re ready to make your first land purchase
Owning your own land is something you’ve always aspired to do. Now that you think you are ready to move forward, follow these steps to make your first investment positive, secure and stress-free.
Know What You Can Afford
If you are considering financing, we recommend that you get pre-approved for a loan. This will help you understand your “purchasing power”—how much the bank will lend you plus how much you have saved for a down payment. Getting pre-approved will let you know the amount you can offer when you find the right piece of land. If you plan to build a home, fencing, barn, pond, etc., be sure to not spread yourself too thin. Plan to have enough cash on hand or equity in the property to make those improvements after the initial land purchase. Get pre-approved online at SWGAFarmCredit.com.
Understand the Loan Process
Similar to a home mortgage, the land loan process consists of several stages: application, approval/denial of loan request—then, if approved—appraisal, title search, and closing. There are two things you can do to help the process go smoothly. First, have financial documents (balance sheet, tax returns, etc.) ready to submit with the initial application. Second, have cash for your down payment. Land loans typically require a down payment of 15-25 percent. Keep in mind that each step of the process takes time. With paperwork and finances in order up front, expect the overall process from application to closing to take between 30-45 days.
Use a Real Estate Agent Who Specializes in Land
Buying land is different than purchasing a home, so working with a licensed Realtor who specializes in land will save you time and stress. A local land broker can help you narrow down your search, point out any potential red flags and successfully negotiate an offer. These professionals understand the different markets and can help educate you on land values, which can change quickly in different geographic areas. Work with a Realtor you connect with, one who understands your needs and wants and who specializes in the location or property type you desire.
Use An Attorney Whose Business is Real Estate
Generally, the buyer selects an attorney to close the deal. Use an attorney whose primary business is real estate transactions. Real estate attorneys understand the importance of closing on time, are able to review the closing documents prior to the actual closing for accuracy and are familiar with the loan process and lender’s requirements. If you would like a suggestion on who to use, Southwest Georgia Farm Credit can provide information to help guide you in the right direction.
Work With a Lender Who Specializes in Land Financing
Because rates and terms on land loans are different than on home loans, most lenders limit their terms to 10 years while others will not lend for raw (unimproved) land. Working with a lender that understands and is accustomed to land lending will make the process of borrowing smooth and stress-free. Specialized lenders can help guide you through the land buying process, and will work hard to ensure your success.
If you need someone to help guide you through the process, no matter where you are on your journey, let us know.