How To Buy Land In Florida
In Florida, new construction homes are incredibly popular. In fact, there are 9.80 new homes built in Florida for every 1,000 people. This rate of construction makes Florida third in the nation for the number of new homes.
If you are contemplating building a home for yourself and your family, then you may be wondering how to find land on which to build. In some cases, the builder will have homesites to sell to you - which can make the process incredibly easy. Otherwise, you will have to find a property for sale and do a fair amount of research on things like building codes, zoning, and the availability of utilities before securing financing and starting to build.
Based in Lithia, Eaton Realty represents home buyers, sellers, and investors throughout Hillsborough County. As former construction industry insiders ourselves, we have unique insight into the home-building process. If you want to build a home in the East Tampa region, give us a call to talk to a member of our real estate team.
Factors to Consider When Buying Land in Florida
If you have decided that you want to build your own house in West Central Florida, congratulations! Building a house is exciting and is often the best way to get precisely what you want in a home.
That said, there is often a lot more to think about when building a house versus buying one. To start, you have to find land for your house. Your chosen home builder may have lots available, or you may need to go out and find some land for yourself that is suitable for building.
When thinking about a piece of property, you will want to consider certain factors, including:
- Lot size: do you want lots of space for privacy and outdoor hobbies, or would you prefer a smaller yard with less upkeep?
- Proximity to neighbors: how close do you want to be to your neighbors?
- Distance to work and attractions: are you willing to have a longer commute, or do you want to live close to the action?
- Utilities: for more rural or underdeveloped areas, are utilities like sewer, water, and electricity already available, or will you have to pay for a well and septic system and to have electricity run to your house?
- Property taxes: what is the property tax rate for the area?
- Zoning: is the land zoned for residential construction?
- Legal issues: are there any ordinances or covenants on the land, such as a requirement to join a homeowner’s association (HOA)? Will you need an easement to get road access?
- Flooding: is the land situated within a flood zone? Is it prone to flooding from hurricanes or other common Florida weather events?
Of course, there will be other things to think about when buying a piece of property. Your budget will be a huge consideration, particularly given that the land is just one part of the overall cost of building a house. Your Hillsborough County real estate agent can help you come up with a list of things to consider when searching for a property.
Buying Land in Florida: A Step-By-Step Guide
Once you have decided to buy property, then you’re onto the next step: actually picking out and purchasing land! Below, we have outlined the steps you will need to take to help make the process as easy as possible.
Research Land for Sale
The first step in the process is researching land for sale. You will need to narrow down the area that you want to live in to start. Consider whether you want to be closer to the city, in the suburbs, or a more rural area.
At this point, you can use online MLS sites to search for land for sale. You might even drive around a particular community that you like to see if you spot any “for sale” signs on vacant land. The easiest option is to work with a real estate agent who can create a list of properties that fit your criteria and are available for sale.
Do Due Diligence on the Property That You Want
After you have found a piece of property that you want to buy, you will need to research it as well. At a minimum, you will need to:
- Determine how the property is zoned, and whether you can build a home on it
- Read up on local building codes and ordinances
- Have a survey performed - if one is not already available - to plot property boundaries, determine elevations, and analyze the likelihood of flooding on your lot
- Figure out utilities, including the cost and availability of hookups to gas and electric, the availability of internet and cell phone service, and whether there is public water and sewer
- The cost of clearing and grading the land
- Whether there are any natural features - such as the presence of wetlands or particularly rocky soil - that may make it impossible or more expensive to build
Again, your real estate agent can provide you with guidance on these steps. They can also hook you up with the right experts to learn as much as possible about the land before you purchase it.
Decide on a Builder
If you’re building a home, you will need someone to actually construct it. Before you move further into the process, you should pick out a builder. Doing so is vital to ensure that your land is suitable for what you want to build on it. It is also crucial when it comes to financing.
Depending on your budget and what you want, you may choose a custom builder, a semi-custom builder, or a production builder. Generally, production builders work on land within a subdivision that the construction company or a developer owns. If you are buying outside of a subdivision, then you will likely need a custom or semi-custom builder.
Find Financing for the Property
The final step in the process is financing the purchase of the land. Unless you have the cash to buy the property outright, you will likely need some type of loan to buy the land. Three basic types of loans are used to buy property.
First, a land or lot loan can be obtained to pay for the property. Generally, a land loan is for completely undeveloped properties, while a lot loan is for properties connected to utilities or have already received a permit for home construction. Land loans are generally considered riskier, so they usually require a down payment.
Second, a construction loan is a short-term loan to help you get a building project started. It usually requires putting together various building permits, construction plans, and a budget to show to the bank.
Third, a construction-to-permanent loan is a hybrid loan that starts as a construction loan and then turns into a standard mortgage. This loan can lower closing fees since there is just one closing. However, you must pay interest on the balance at a prime rate before it becomes a permanent mortgage.
Once you have financing lined up, you can buy the property - and start building your house! This process can be both exciting and frustrating, as it isn’t uncommon to have delays and unexpected issues arise. Try to keep the faith, knowing that you will get a beautiful home in the end!
Work with Eaton Realty
There are a lot of benefits to building your own home. It is often the best way to get exactly what you want, from the number of bedrooms to flooring to outdoor living spaces. However, the process can be hard and a bit stressful - starting with finding the right piece of land for your dream home.
At Eaton Realty, we have substantial experience in both construction and real estate. We put our knowledge to work for our clients, whether they want to buy a home or build one. We will advocate for you throughout the process, from selecting a property to choosing a builder to ensuring the build goes as smoothly as possible.
To learn more about our real estate services for building homes, fill out our online contact form or call our office at 813-672-8022.