Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Kansas

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Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Kansas
By

Bart Waldon

When it comes to buying land in Kansas, it's easy to get caught up in the thrill of all those gorgeous open acres and peaceful prairie views that capture your imagination. But in our experience, it pays off hugely to keep a level head - don't let emotion drive your decision making. We've seen far too many folks burned by diving into a purchase only to uncover serious issues later that derailed everything.

What we always advise people is slow down...do your due diligence before you commit. Get clarity on the property lines through a professional survey, dig into the fine print on flood risks and zoning codes, verify precisely what utilities and infrastructure access you have (or don't have yet). It's no fun footing the bills later for problems you could have surfaced early, believe me.

And don't be shy about negotiating either - this isn’t like buying a car at a dealership. There are always unique factors at play with land deals that you can leverage to bid under list price if you play it smart. Listen, at the end of the day, arming yourself with objective information sets you up for success when chasing down your piece of those beautiful Kansas horizons. It's worth taking it slow so you can build that dream on solid ground. Just try to enjoy the journey along the way!

Failing to Inspect Thoroughly Before Buying

Eager land buyers often take the seller’s word when it comes to boundary lines and property condition. However, Kansas land veterans warn against skipping due diligence. Surveying services should be secured to identify and mark exact property lines and corner acreage markers to avoid future disputes with neighbors.

Inspections by qualified professionals should analyze the soil quality, check for flooding risk, and identify any erosion or hazardous waste issues. Topography maps outline elevation points and gradients to understand drainage and flood patterns when rain is heavy. Home appraisers can determine structures’ integrity or replacement costs as well.

While these inspections and in-depth surveys require some upfront investment, they pale in comparison to the tens of thousands you could lose by failing to uncover problems ahead of the purchase.

Not Confirming Utilities Access

Those sprawling Kansas acres may be gorgeous, but are basic utilities available nearby? Calling your local utility companies to verify water, electric, gas, sewer, and internet accessibility for the property location is essential.

Veteran land buyers warn against assuming utilities are accessible at rural locations in Kansas without confirmation. Get written statements from providers detailing the infrastructure status where you plan to build. Also, secure estimates on the costs required to bring services to that land plot if they are not currently available.

This research may reveal needs like adding septic tanks, propane tanks, or satellite dishes for internet — good to know before you buy!

Skipping Environmental Impact Reviews

A picturesque piece of Kansas prairie can still come with risks if the land was used for mining or industrial purposes previously. Historic environmental issues like hazardous material dumping, contamination from chemical spills, or illegal meth lab materials could still resurface years later.

Kansas land veterans strongly recommend inquiring about past land use and having a screening done to rule out any environmental hazards before purchase. Though not exciting, these steps can save huge sums later by avoiding contaminated sites or requirements to remediate previous owner's impacts.

Not Confirming Flood Zone Status

While a rambling creek or pond can add postcard-worthy charm to a Kansas property, water features bring flooding risks. Be sure to have the land’s flood zone determination completed via elevation certificate, and check any regulatory floodplain requirements for that zone classification.

Kansas participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, so insurance rates and rebuilding requirements will depend on whether the property sits in a high-risk 100-year zone versus a moderate-to-low risk 500-year floodplain zone. This will influence future rebuild costs as well should flooding or other disasters strike.

Paying Ask Prices Without Negotiation

The listed price for land should be seen as the starting point for negotiation rather than the assumed final sale dollar amount. Various factors from property condition to limited access routes could allow for reasonable bids 25-50% or more below asking prices. The key is researching sales comps and average price per acre for recent transactions in the county.

Work with real estate agents experienced in Kansas land transactions to gather intelligence on current market rates in the area on a price per acre basis. This helps set expectations when making offers based on actual market value rather than overpaying on list price alone. Patient negotiating tactics truly pay off.

Not Accounting for Needed Improvements

While the land itself may seem affordably priced, determining what preparations must be done before any building greatly impacts total invest. As seasoned land buyers advise, questions to ask when assessing improvement costs include:

  • Is a driveway needed to access the site?
  • Will a well/septic system be added?
  • Is grading required for proper drainage?
  • Do access roads need grading or gravel installation?
  • How far away are utilities and what will easement rights cost?

Build out these prep line items with local contractor quotes to avoid budget shortfalls when work begins. Unexpected development costs quickly escalate build budgets.

Failing to Check Tax Implications

How land is taxed in Kansas varies depending on classification and intended use. For example, agricultural acreage taxes run far lower than commercially, industrially or residentially zoned properties in the same areas. Some counties do offer partial tax breaks for several years on land bought specifically for residential building.

Consult the county assessor’s office to estimate property taxes based on type of structures needed for your plans with the land. The ongoing tax rates may impact location selection if you are on a tight budget.

Not Securing Title Insurance

Title issues like pending liens, easements disputes, and unknown heirs can derail even the most idyllic Kansas land deal. Protect your purchase with title insurance to reduce risks from any issues tied to prior owners. While optional insurance adds a few hundred dollars upfront, it can save exponentially more by covering legal costs later if claims arise against the property.

Work with an experienced real estate attorney during closing to fully review the preliminary title commitment and what is covered or excluded from your policy. Title risks also underscore the need for proper land surveys beforehand to confirm boundaries.

Being Unaware of Special Zoning Rules

Before falling in love with a land parcel in Kansas, check what zoning restrictions govern that area. For instance, special rules may dictate minimum acreage needed for building due to surrounding agricultural zoning. Height limitations could prohibit elevating structures for better views.

Also investigate if permits are required for restoring wetlands, clearing trees, filling space for additions, or adjusting grade surfaces. Even installing fences or outbuildings may need approval beforehand. Non-compliance fines can add up fast.

Skipping the Mineral Rights Review

Owning surface land rights does not always mean you own rights to underground minerals, water or gas as well. Significant oil discoveries across Kansas make mineral rights ownership a consideration before buying property in oil-rich counties.

A mineral rights certification completed during due diligence will identify any existing mineral leases or ownership transfers from the past. Understand if any restrictions are tied to mineral rights utilization for that land going forward.

The key insight overall when buying land in Kansas is avoiding assumptions! Leverage surveys, inspections, appraisals and as much market data as possible before negotiating or closing a deal. Making informed offers sets the stage for landing your dream acres without unwanted surprises.

Final Thoughts

Buying alluring open acres in the Sunflower State can deliver those peaceful prairie vistas so many desires. Yet failing to avoid key mistakes when researching and negotiating a Kansas land purchase can lead to regrets, lost money, and legal issues down the road. Taking time to thoroughly assess boundary lines, access, improvements required, and tax implications allows for informed deal-making. Partnering with specialized local teams for due diligence support further protects against assumptions. By understanding these common pitfalls to sidestep from the start, you position yourself to invest wisely for your property aspirations, whether a family homestead or farmland enterprise. Doing your Kansas land buying homework leads to success beyond the beautiful horizons.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the most common mistakes people make when buying Kansas land?

Some top mistakes include: only visually inspecting the land, not verifying easements, not researching zoning restrictions beforehand, failing to survey property lines, and skipping negotiations to simply pay list price.

Should I get land in Kansas surveyed before purchasing?

Yes, completing a boundary survey to mark exact property lines and corner points with steel posts avoids neighbor disputes later. Confirm there are no encroachments or easement issues.

How can I research the flood risk for Kansas land parcels?

Contact your county to secure the flood zone determination letter for the property, completed via elevation certificate. This outlines risks for both high-risk 100-year and moderate 500-year zones per FEMA flood maps.

What questions should I ask about utilities for vacant Kansas land?

Verify with each local utility provider the availability, connection points and costs for accessing water, electric, natural gas, internet and sewer at that property's location. Get quotes for any infrastructure improvements required.

Should I verify mineral rights with Kansas land purchases?

Yes, securing a mineral rights certification determines any previous leases or severances tied to underground oil, gas, water or mineral claims. Review legal obligations and if surface rights could be impacted.

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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