Buying a plot of land with a view to building your dream home can bring some unique challenges, from locating the perfect site to planning permission and other legalities. We takes a closer look at the ins and outs.
When it comes to finding building plots and land for sale these days, it can sometimes be easier said than actually done. Land can be snapped up so swiftly by keen developers that actually getting any hint of a site becoming available in the first instance can be a big bonus.
According to property specialists Strutt and Parker, around 70 per cent of land coming on to the current market is brownfield - land that is or was occupied by a permanent structure that has become vacant, underused or derelict, and has redevelopment potential - and 30 per cent is greenfield - undeveloped land, such as parks and recreational grounds. This available land, owned by a range of individuals, companies and land speculators, can prove a worthwhile investment for those looking to build a new home. So where to start?
When looking to purchase land for development, there are many routes to finding your ideal plot. These include some of the following options:
Although largely in the business of selling ready-built properties, many estate agents occasionally have building land on their books too. And even if they don't have anything suitable, it can be worth making the enquiry and leaving your details. Estate agents often have great contacts from within the building trades, property developers, investment clients and so on - any of which could lead to news of a potential land sale. If you are looking to liaise with an accredited agent in your area, contact the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the UK's leading professional body for estate agency with over 10,000 members.
Land agents operate in the same manner as estate agents, but deal solely with building plots and land, with or without planning permission. The agents who purely trade in land are far and few between, but as specialists in their field, could offer more promise to the potential land buyer than the average estate agency. Recommended land agents include:
Today there are numerous sites on the web that offer a plot search facility, and allow you to sift through a large and extensive database of land currently for sale. Certain sites even include aerial pictures and all the necessary details. Private sellers of land often use databases of this nature as they don't have to pay to advertise on it. Recommended online databases include:
It can be worth scanning all the local newspapers and notice boards in your preferred area for any potential land sales. Finding an advertisement can be unpredictable, but once in a while, private sellers may place adverts for a direct sale. Alternatively, placing an advertisement declaring you are looking for land to purchase in the area may pay dividends if you can secure a plot not yet on the market.
Land auctions can be a source of cheap land for sale. Often advertising in local publications, the land for sale through auction is often the result of bankruptcy, so a quick sale is essential. However, as with any auction, it can be easy to become carried away and pay over the odds, so tread carefully. And land auctions are not without risk and often work largely on a sold-as-seen basis. You should ensure the plot is exactly what you are after before the auction.
It is possible the local council may have land for sale, so making tentative enquiries may well provide a lead. And why not drive around your preferred area to see if any plots are available - some may be blatant - with the ideal 'Land for sale' signage - but others may not be so straightforward. There could be viable plots of land as part of large gardens or land with derelict buildings on, so keeping an open mind, and making polite discreet enquiries could bring positive results. Even land obviously already owned by potential developers may be viable. The Royal Town Planning Institute has recently called for developers that are slow to build homes on land, on which they have already gained planning permission for, should be actively taxed - to discourage them from manipulating the property market. The institute believes such a levy is needed to discourage developers putting off building work.
This option is growing in popularity more and more - particularly in sought-after areas where land can be at a premium - and the property doesn't have to be derelict for it to be a financially viable venture. Many self builders find removing an existing property, whatever the condition, to rebuild is often more gainful than renovating. Demolition is surprisingly cost-effective.
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