While I don’t profess any great wisdom or expertise as a lot buyer, I thought sharing my rationale my be interesting to somebody. You’re are free to glean as much or as little as you like. My one admonition is to not allow this to be your sole source of information if you’re purchasing a lot. Talk to real estate agents and builders, surf the web, and read some books and articles. There are many individuals more knowledgeable than me.
There are a number of factors that weigh on the decision. Some are directly related to the lot. Does the lot have utilities? Is it a sloping? How large is it? When purchasing a lot, you’re also taking a stake in the local community. This introduces additional considerations. Is the lot urban, suburban, or rural? Is the neighborhood safe?
Each lot that I looked at introduced its own set of considerations. Those listed below held the greatest sway over me. However, the list is most definitely not complete.
Urban, Suburban, or Rural
My previous two houses were both in central Ohio suburbs. I found the suburban life style agreeable. The first of the two was in the fastest growing part of the fastest growing county in Ohio. As time passed numerous businesses and residential dwelling were built in the immediate vicinity of my subdivision. Traffic on the roads grew dramatically. While this had a limited impact within the subdivision, traffic noise, congestion, and road construction became problematic. These experiences led me to seek a suburban location on the periphery of the community. They also led to a heightened awareness of how the community might develop over the coming years. Of course, there aren’t any guarantees. You can only make your best guess.
Growing up in Casper, you always have the mountain immediately to your south, whether you opt to go to it or not. It is always there. Life in central Ohio is largely devoid of mountains. You are surrounded by extremely flat corn and soy bean fields. Throughout my time in central Ohio, I always missed the mountains. Having a view of the mountains and easy access to their recreation locations was a critically important factor.
One of my concerns with relocating is that it can be difficult to establish roots and build connections and relationships in a new community where you don’t know anyone. When I looked at different neighborhoods, I considered whether there was a social center for the neighborhood. This could be a nearby park, school, church, or shopping mall. It would be a place where residents can bump into one another casually and get to know each other. The Powder Horn community has a country club with numerous amenities and activity that draw in residents. I fully expect that this will facilitate a rapid incorporation in the neighborhood.
I have a recurring experience when visiting Wyoming. People would ask me what I do for a living. As I talked about my job in the Software industry, it was commonplace for me to be greeted by a glazed over look. This is because Wyoming, being such a rural state, doesn’t really have much of a software industry. People lack a conversational foundation. However, they are better informed about other industries and topics than my friends in Ohio. The moral here is simply that people are shaped by their life experiences. I was seeking a community with individuals whose life experiences might crossover more with my own. By moving into a golf community, it seemed likely that my neighbors would be more likely to at least have work experiences more closely related to mine. Time will tell whether this assumption is realized.
Some houses and lots do not have city utilities. On more than one occasion, I ran across septic systems, water wells, and propane heating. While this didn’t necessarily eliminate a lot or house from consideration, I lacked a desire to absorb the added maintenance that accompanies these.
Some lots that I passed were extremely expensive. In some cases this was attributable to land sizes of 40 acres or more. Others were just expensive. I saw lots that were priced well into the six figures. I had a budget. It simply doesn’t make sense to purchase a lot only have enough left to pitch a tent on it.
There are also some hidden costs that play into the equation. For example, the lot I chose sits on a slope. This makes construction more expensive because of the extra earthwork and foundation challenges. In my case, the slope was steep enough that the house had to have basement rather than a crawl space. I carefully talked through the additional cost with my builder before making the decision to move forward with the lot purchase. You simply have to understand these costs before jumping into the build process.
Living on the Lot
While not my intent, I will offer one piece of advice. Take the time to imagine yourself living on the lot. What will life be like? What will you like and dislike? Don’t feel like you have to rush into a buy decision because the lot might get sold out from under you. There are other lots out there. Take the time to make certain it is the right one for you.