How to Buy Land From the Owner

After months of searching, you have found the perfect piece of land for either an investment or building your home. The owner is willing to sell it, but he is not going to list it with a real estate agency, and is not willing to pay a commission to one, so you will not have an agent. If you want to negotiate a purchase price, you must do it on your own.


Buying Land from the Owner

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Step 1

Call the owner of the land and make an appointment to discuss the land and his asking price. Have him walk the land with you so you can get an idea of its uniqueness and views. This will help you determine if this truly is the land you want to own. Ask if he has a survey, and if so, ask for a copy. Ask if he knows what utilities are available to the land, and if any engineering tests have been done to insure a home can be built. Take notes and gather any copies of documents the owner can provide.


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Step 2

Call or visit the county engineering office to gather additional information regarding the land. You need information on permit costs, and if it can be determined that the land is buildable.

If you actually plan to build immediately, and have house plans, you can file the plans for approval. The engineering officer will be able to provide general information and costs, and will verify the available utilities to the land. If you are satisfied, you are ready for the next step.


Step 3

Determine that the land you have found fits your needs. To formulate an offer amount, you need to be sure the asking price meets the value of the land. If you are sure of the land and location, and since no real estate agents are involved, you might want to contact an local appraiser familiar with the area where the land is located. If you decide to have him do an appraisal on the land in question, it will cost you. Being sure you are getting good value for your money is well worth his cost. An appraisal will give information on marshy or wetland areas, and will show if any portion of the land is located in a 100-year flood plain. It will also show the zoning.


Step 4

Contact an attorney in the area who handles land sales. He can put together an "offer to purchase" contract, and you can also use him to close the deal when you are ready. He will quote his costs for assistance and for title services. He will guide you through the rest of the process, including title search and title insurance on the property.



Step 5

Make a second appointment with the seller of the land if all the information you gathered is to your satisfaction. Armed with the property value and assurance that the land is buildable, as well as an offer to purchase contract from your attorney, write up the offer based on your appraisal and your homework. Make the offer contingent on the land passing a radon test, and percolation and/or soil analysis testing (if a septic system is needed for a home). Make the contract contingent on the drilling of a well if water is not available to the property. You can also ask the seller to pay your closing costs as quoted by the attorney. You want to treat this as though you are going to build a home even if you decide to sell the property later, as your buyer will probably want to build a home.


Have seller provide you with a survey of the lot lines. In a construction loan to build a home, a survey in your name will be needed, so a new one will be required at that time.

If you are planning to build on the land, have your builder look over the land before you make the offer to buy. He will be able to give helpful information.

Owner financing may be available with a large enough down payment. Rate and term can be negotiated. Have your attorney add financing to the contract.


You may incur charges having the attorney prepare your offer to purchase contract, and if you do, you can make them part of your closing costs and ask your seller to pay them.

Things You'll Need

  • Appraiser

  • Attorney

  • Offer to purchase contract

  • Survey of the land

  • Title search

  • Title insurance



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