Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Colorado

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Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Colorado

Bart Waldon

With over 66 million acres of picturesque countryside spanning majestic Rocky Mountain ranges, sprawling Western Slope mesas and fertile Eastern Plains farmland, Colorado offers abundant land ownership appeal. For prospective buyers seeking property to develop, farm, ranch or simply enjoy on weekends escaping urban life near Denver or Colorado Springs, abundant options exist if avoiding key purchasing pitfalls. This guide covers critical mistakes to steer clear of when investing in Colorado land.

Failing To Check Zoning Codes & Development Restrictions 

A surprising number of newcomers get lured in by cheap land listings on acreage in rural counties without fully realizing limitations on what can actually be built or operated commercially there. Never assume property gets used for intended purposes without thoroughly checking county zoning codes, development restrictions, density allowances and land use ordinances first.

In addition to basic zoning regulations on categories like residential, retail, industrial, agricultural and such, rural mountain counties also impose stringent geomapping overlays related to wildlife, wildfire risk, watersheds, mining potential and other environmental factors that severely reduce surface buildability – rendering land nearly useless for anything beyond basic recreation. Rezoning battles also prove long and costly. Avoid disappointment by confirming viability upfront.

Neglecting In-Person Property Inspections 

Pretty listing photos inevitably sell prospective buyers visually on idyllic country properties before making offers. But until walking the actual land, hidden issues remain undisclosed. Don’t rely solely on aerial views or even drone footage substituting for boots on the ground reality checks before purchasing anywhere in Colorado’s diverse geography.

In-person visits reveal easement access obstacles, awkward boundary lines, water/drainage problems, unsuitable terrain, undesirable adjacency conditions, extensive weed overgrowth threatening buildings plans and much more. If localized or traveling remotely, hire a trusted inspector paying for extensive photography evidence and detailed reporting. But virtual tours fail to provide full awareness the same way physical presence does.

Overlooking Mineral/Water Rights Details 

Water access proves extremely limited across Colorado’s high desert steppes and plateaus. Land without associated water rights or drilling approval for residential well permits assumes monumental added value instantly for buyers who secure rights transferring with sale. Yet beginners routinely gloss over this crucial provision during interactions with county clerk and recorders. Don’t be that buyer realizing too late the brook is all for show without meaningfully use or access.

The same oversight risk applies to mineral rights tied to property. Valuable subsurface oil, gas or precious metals get leased separately through deeds and ownership stays with sellers unless explicitly transferred by sale terms. Given extensive fracking across Colorado plus gold/silver mining claims still developing, those aspects can’t get ignored when assessing land investment appeal or negotiating buys.

Believing Everything Listed in Seller Disclosures 

Most buyers understandably take seller lead paint advisories, prior pest infestation reports, flood plain inclusions and similar property disclosures at face value assuming they represent honest sharing of relevant history. But rural landowners often inherit holdings from ancestors with no direct experience occupying the land itself or heavily documenting on-site conditions over the years.

Before buying based on seemingly transparent seller revelations, conduct further due diligence validating claims around past issues impacting land conditions. Search public records for weather events and pest calamities hitting broader surrounding regions through the years that plausibly impacted the property. Getting trapped buying land requiring extensive remediation or hazardous structure demolition proves painful. Validate first through deeper research.

9 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Colorado 

Beyond broader pitfalls lacking experience brings when buying Colorado land, additional errors threaten sustainable ownership enjoyment if repeating others’ oversights. Heed the following guidance:

1. Lacking Patience 

Impulse buying acreage failing to check zoning codes or thoroughly inspect lands frequently generates remorse later. Land staying listed awhile often means significant issues exist. Let impatient rivals overpay discovering flaws afterwards.

2. Overestimating Buildability 

Between subsurface rock density preventing solid foundations across nearly half the state plus expansive Clay soils heaving concrete slabs up constantly in the eastern plains, assumptions around simple construction prove costly. Deep analysis beats regret.

3. Misjudging Accessibility 

Long winding rural roads looking drivable on maps turn impassable quickly driving sedans if icy, muddy or washed out. What seems acceptable access within modest distance estimates fails reality testing later living there needing 4WD constantly. Calculate carefully.

4. Overlooking Flood History 

Beyond FEMA published flood maps, changes in grading patterns on adjacent lands create newly formed risk zones. Assumptions around temporary water accumulation or dated storm drainage fail realized only too late. Seek wisdom seeking elders residing locally for decades to learn historical truths.

5. Disregarding Fire Risk 

Colorado weather patterns fuel summer wildfires tearing through millions of acres regularly, igniting forests and threatening properties despite fire-safe perimeter precautions taken by landowners. Map proximity around past burn zones and plan alternate emergency exit routes for future consideration. Lives depend on it.

6. Underestimating Utilities Complexity 

Running standard modern utility infrastructure like electrical lines, natural gas piping, internet/phone access, municipal water hookups and sewer connections into remote Rocky Mountain regions gets extremely tricky requiring big civil engineering spend consultants easily clarify upfront.

7. Mismatched Lifestyle Vision 

Over time, social isolation living rural miles from civilization fosters second thoughts for those envisioning wholesome family togetherness long-term. And advanced aging limiting mobility navigating steep uneven land year-round leads many into regretting picturesque beauty over prudent practicality. Know thyself through thoughtful reflection forecasting all seasons lasting 30+ years - not just impressive views enjoyed occasionally summer visiting initially spurring purchase decisions.

8. Disregarding Tax/Insurance Implications 

Beyond likely property tax value reassessment jolts after buying if paying below market, spiking rural landowner insurance premiums also surprise many newcomers given extreme climate change fueled risk models. Add those recurring costs to budget impacts annually.

9. Skipping Contingencies 

Waiving inspection objection terms proves foolish beyond occasionally bidding wars around limited inventory in popular destinations. But great land buying opportunities still abound in Colorado by leveraging contingencies protecting investments against unknown flaws uncovered before closing. Stay safe not sorry!

With proper diligence avoiding common mistakes land buyers make chasing Colorado dreams detached from practical realities, spectacular properties await good stewards seeking peaceful lasting enjoyment on acreage aligned with sincere lifestyle intentions made self-aware through deep reflection on what matters most. Move thoughtfully with care beyond superficial curb appeal assumptions. Thrive embracing paradise prudently once discovered!

Those seeking experts able to identify ideal land buying opportunities matching interests and navigate entire due diligence processes start-to-finish may appreciate consulting with companies like Land Boss assisting newcomers. Contact us online to learn about available land for sale in various Colorado counties or discuss how we can help identify prime investments for your needs. Here’s to discovering life-fulfilling properties and avoiding regrets!

Final Thoughts

Avoiding key mistakes when buying rural Colorado land proves essential for ensuring sustainable enjoyment not regret in the coming years of ownership. By overcoming excitement with patience conducting thorough due diligence, new buyers set themselves up for success identifying property aligned with personal interests while safeguarding investments through prudent contingencies. Respect the land’s complex attributes, but remain realistic assessing seasonal access practicalities long-term as well. Thousands live happily achieving life visions on Colorado acres. Focus diligence wisely, then embrace paradise sustainably!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the biggest zoning and land use issues facing Colorado land buyers?

The steep terrain, high fire risk, flood zones, endangered species habitats, and other environmental factors make aspects of Colorado land development highly regulated. Remote mountain areas in particular impose stringent building codes, well water access constraints and wildlife impact rules buyers must confirm before purchasing.

What percentage of land parcels in Colorado have compromised mineral rights?

Industry estimates indicate about 30% of Colorado land listings already have severed or partially encumbered mineral rights from past severances. This represents lost future value for buyers unaware of subsurface ownership issues during acquisition. Always verify through title searches.

How often do serious wildfires impact land annually in Colorado?

According to state data, over 300,000 acres now get impacted by moderate to major Colorado wildfire damage every year, with trends worsening over time. Land buyers must factor risks of buying properties in wooded areas and budget for loss contingency insurance coverage in addition to taking proactive fire-safe precautions.

What is the failure rate for rural Colorado land development projects?

County assessor denial rates on improvement permits hover around 22% for proposed projects on previously undeveloped rural land. Reasons trace mainly back to zoning non-compliance, environmental factors or inadequate access for safe occupancy ultimately deemed by regulators. Careful vetting avoids this fate.

What percentage of land parcels in Eastern Colorado lack stable water access?

Water scarcity issues leave about 30% of Eastern Plains Colorado land holdings without reliable access options for wells or municipal hookups. This lack of stable water critically impacts property functionality, valuations and development potential. Due diligence should confirm rights transferring with sales.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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