Jun
03

Buying Alabama Land for the First Time? Here are Tips to Get You Started.

Are you beginning your search of rural land for sale in Alabama? Many first time land buyers go through a buying process that often takes 6 months to 2 years before making their first purchase. Helping people move through the land buying process is something I love to do. Getting educated on land and the land buying process is essential for you to making your land buying experience a success. Below are some helpful tips for how to make your first land purchase.

I deal with many first-time land buyers who are in the early stages of their search. As with many other things that you do for the first time, sometimes you don’t even know the right questions to ask. So this article is aimed at helping you have a decent starting point from which to begin your search.

1. What type of property are you looking for, and what features should it have? Sit down with a pad and paper and think through the reasons you are buying the property. Is it an investment for retirement? Is it primarily for recreation or hunting? Do you intend to build on the property? What features are non-negotiables? (ie… water, power, road frontage, timber, joining National Forest). Many times you will need to see several different properties to get an idea of what you like and what you do not like.

2. Who loans money for rural land, and what are their terms? Typically we point people toward a few companies in Alabama that specialize in rural land loans: First South Farm Credit, Alabama Farm Credit, and Alabama Ag Credit. For specific loan information you should contact them directly. Generally they will finance property with 15% to 25% down and they can amortize a property out to 20 years. Interest rates are generally slightly higher than residential mortgage rates. You might also check with your local banks or credit unions.

3. How can I educate myself on buying land before I actually go look at properties? There are lots of wrinkles to buying rural properties, and it is better to avoid getting an education in the school of hard knocks if possible. Southeastern Land Group has a weekly radio show and podcast, The Land Show, devoted to helping people learn about the process of buying and selling land in Alabama.  I would recommend visiting landthink.com to “Get Land Smart“. This site features scores of articles devoted to providing information to buyers and sellers on a wide range of topics. These articles are written by professionals in many different disciplines pertaining to rural land.

Additionally, you should find a land professional in your area who can give you some good advice and steer you in the right direction. Be aware if you call a listing agent on a particular property,  that agent generally is already working for the seller. This means that often the agent has the best interest of the seller in mind, and may not be able to provide the professional advice you desire. It is possible to enlist the help of a buyer’s agent who will exclusively represent your interests. This is not required, but might prove to be helpful. In Alabama, a real estate agent should disclose to you at the first meeting how they will be working with you. (ie… seller’s agent, working with you as a buyer’s agent, dual agent representing both parties, or working with you as a transaction broker) This disclosure is required by Alabama real estate law.

Land for Sale on the Cahaba River in Perry County, AlabamaGeneral Advice about buying rural land:

1. Shop with an “exit strategy” in mind. Buy a property that you can re-sell if you need to in the future. Find a tract with features that others will find desirable. Many landowners I am representing today were not expecting to need to sell five years ago.

2. Educate yourself as before going to preview rural land; then while you are looking at land listen to what the agent has to say.  Don’t feel pressured to impress the agent with how much you know about buying rural land. Ask questions, listen, and learn from the agent you are spending time with. If it sounds like the agent is “puffing” or trying to pressure you into something, find another agent you feel comfortable with.

3. Get your ducks in a row at the start. Abraham Lincoln is reported as saying, “If I had eight hours to cut down a tree, I would spend the first six hours sharpening my axe.” If you will do your homework early in the process, you will be ready to make the purchase when presented with the right property. You can avoid pitfalls that can be frustrating or costly down the road.

If you are searching for rural land in Alabama, contact our team to see how we can be helpful to you. Southeastern Land Group has over 550 different pieces of rural land for sale in Alabama, so contact us today.

Written by: Jonathan Goode is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and licensed land broker in Alabama and Mississippi. He co-hosts the weekly radio program, The Land Show, that covers many of these topics for people interested in buying or selling land in Alabama.

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