A Mini Guide to Evaluating Land Listings

The big topic over by the HUTS water cooler these days has been looking for land. With the upstate NY housing inventory dwindling and the desire to build a cost efficient modern cabin strengthening, a lot of folks have been peeking around at land listings. The question, though, is how to decipher what is actually good? With little more than some pictures of trees, it can be confusing to know if the land you are looking at online will be a good fit for your build. 

Here Are Our Top 5 Items to Evaluate When Checking Out Land Listings:


This sounds obvious and simple, but one of the most important things to consider is searching within an area that you really like and can imagine spending a lot of time. Make a list of location features that are important to you, and really zero in on searching in the locations that match the lifestyle you are hoping to create. Go on some Sunday drives around different towns to really capture the vibe. 


One of the most important items to look out for is how the lot is zoned. This is the local authorities determination of how the land can be used. If you are planning to build multiple structures on one lot, for instance, you need to ensure the land is zoned to allow this ahead of time. Keep in mind that purchasing land at a cheap price, but is improperly zoned for the project you have in mind, will not end up being a bargain. It is highly unlikely that the zoning will be changed at a later date. 


If your appetite for a large project is relatively light, you may want to search for land that already has utilities hooked up — including electric, water, and septic. These will be the more expensive “build-ready” listings. In many cases, though, the land will be “raw” with limited or no utilities. Part of your due diligence will be to work with an engineer to find out how much it will cost to run these utilities. This should also be factored into your overall land acquisition budget.

Land Preparation: 

Another consideration when searching for raw land parcels – and even some not so raw – is how much site preparation will be needed to prepare for a build. Clearing and grading the land can add some significant costs to the budget, and often you may also need to have a new driveway or access road cut in as well. The costs for this vary greatly depending upon the specific conditions of the land. 


Based on the existing infrastructure, you will either need a “land loan” (just for the raw land) or a “lot loan” (some of the elements are in place, such as a building permit, survey or utilities). These rates may be a bit higher since these loans are often considered risky by lenders. If you have the ability to pay for this loan in cash, that can ease your follow-on financing, such as the construction loan and convertible mortgage loan.

*We will cover more financing information in a future post

Here are some lots that
we think look pretty cool: 


White Lake 




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