Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Louisiana

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Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Louisiana

Bart Waldon

Louisiana contains over 27 million acres of farmland and forests with nearly 75% of land held in private ownership. Per the latest USDA data, average per acre land valuation sits under $3,000 statewide – ranking behind neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. However prime parcels near economic hubs like New Orleans and Baton Rouge approach double that rate as commercial developers compete for conversion acreage. With rural real estate demand rising across Bayou State parishes and values expected to keep pace thanks to robust agriculture, industrial growth and infrastructure expansion, those looking to purchase Louisiana plots should move swiftly yet cautiously to avoid common novice missteps. Lacking experience navigating regulations, assessing suitability accurately beyond visuals and deriving pricing based more on emotion than market fundamentals leads to frustration. This article explores useful guidance protecting first-time land buyers.

Failing to Research Permitting Constraints

In their eagerness to acquire attractive plots, some newcomers neglect fully vetting regulations governing structure development, agricultural activities and other usage for vacant spreads before closing deals. Louisiana parishes though enforce zoning limitations plus environmental protections on various land classifications including:

1. Flood Plain Restrictions 

Following Hurricane Katrina and other storms exposing vulnerabilities, new use permits face substantial flood prevention plan requirements in low lying areas.

2. Wetlands Safeguards 

Nearly 40% of Louisiana consists of wetlands, bayous and marsh conservancy regions where the Army Corps of Engineers restricts drainage alterations.

3. Timber Regions Rules 

Clear-cutting trees in designated forested parcels requires reforestation agreements and harvesting schedule approvals beforehand.

What cute cottage or corn field dreams may picture for a vacant plot could confront harsh realities without confirming land use designations. Verify feasibility first.

Overlooking Expert Property Condition Inspections

Another common pitfall purchasing vacant acreage involves failing to thoroughly evaluate soils quality, ground composition and overall site suitability for intended purposes before closing transactions. Assumptions prove costly. Consider instead:

1. Agricultural Suitability 

Tile probing reveals ground composition ideal for certain crops. Old surveys also detail successful yields history.

2. Structural Engineering 

Geotechnical analysis checks susceptibility to sinking or shifting plus drainage capacities needed to support foundations using soil sampling, compaction testing etc.

3. Environmental Audits 

Due diligence around abandoned oil wells, buried junk piles or contaminated water tables prevents safety threats and extra remediation costs later.

While not deal breakers outright if prices get negotiated accordingly, assessing land condition accurately informs development budgeting and avoids frustrations from unbuildable earth or resources contamination discovered after purchase agreements conclude. Leverage experts.

Botching Land Value Determinations

Novices also risk overpaying for acreage misgauging pricing variation between North Louisiana plains, New Orleans suburban parishes and rural central bayou districts. Savvy buyers appreciate divergent regional land costs for comparable tracts based on commercial viability plus weigh recent proximate sales. Consult:

1. State University Guides 

Louisiana State University issues annual land market reports covering values by geography and topography using verified sale transactions.

2. County Tax Assessor Records 

Historic valuations, ownership transfers help gauge rates.

3. State Real Estate Commission Data 

Regulatory agencies compile regional sales statistics helpful for bench marking recent prices accurate to specific areas within individual parishes.

While exceeding average recent sales costs makes sense when competing for prime undeveloped land in thriving community growth corridors, overpaying by tens or hundreds of percentage points above neighboring comparable land parcels proves unwise. Target offers wisely.

Gaining mastery avoiding these common land buying pitfalls around verifying regulatory clearances, assessing suitability for intended uses and gauging pricing aligned with true values provides a great foundation. Leverage all resources to determine ideal Louisiana land investments delivering enjoyment for years ahead.

Best Practices for Buying Land in Louisiana

Over 27 million acres across 64 parishes fall under private ownership in Louisiana according to USDA data. With demand rising for vacant plots allowing residential spreads, farming ventures or commercial projects, those looking to purchase undeveloped land first time in the Bayou State stand to gain from following prudent guidelines protecting investments.

Research All Parish Development Guidelines

Before submitting land purchase offers, thoroughly investigate all local ordinances around allowable property uses in the respective parish. Flood plain restrictions, wetlands protections and forestry rules often dictate what gets approved for construction or activities on private lands. Clear any doubts beforehand.

Inspect Sites In-Person Prior to Closing Deals

Assuming land condition suitability based just on plat maps or aerial photography risks oversights. Physically walk the acreage probing soils, spotting any indications of previous failed construction attempts, looking for property line markers and traversing ingress access roads to determine needed upgrades supporting equipment access later. Identify limitations early to negotiate fair pricing.

Seek Local Expert Guidance Determining Value

Statistics from Louisiana State University tracking Bayou State land costs plus individual parish records on recent sales of comparable nearby plots should drive offer terms, not arbitrary figures. Brokers familiar with distinct micro-markets know suitable per acre rates specific to individual townships. They also assist proper appraisals and close transactions smoothing negotiations for mutual gain.

Account Fully for Ownership Responsibilities

Aside from land purchase base pricing, buyers must budget for added inevitable expenses like permits and legal costs, grading access driveways, expanding electrical lines to the parcel and addressing drainage or other improvements. Conservative cost projections avoid budget shortfalls later. Discuss tax obligations as well.

Armed with realistic perspectives on physical land conditions, pricing metrics consistent with regional markets and likely supplementary investments required before properties become usable as intended, Louisiana land buyers find themselves well-positioned to acquire rewarding holdings to enjoy for years.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing acreage in Louisiana can prove rewarding if core guidance gets followed. Conducting due diligence on development regulations, physically inspecting site suitability beyond just visuals and leveraging market data to derive pricing aligned with true land valuations avoids frustration. Budgeting fully for total ownership costs and consulting qualified brokers familiar with rural markets signing off on deal terms sets the stage for smooth acquisitions benefitting both buyers and sellers long term. Do the legwork upfront and reap enjoyment later.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are key land use and development regulations in Louisiana to research before buying plots?

Depending on classification within state environmental zones, properties may be subject to strict wetlands alteration protections, mandatory reforestation plans after timber harvesting or prohibition of permanent dwellings inside regulated floodplains. Know beforehand.

What specialists help assess land condition suitability in Louisiana?

Soils experts probe composition and compaction levels signaling drainage capacities for building foundations and septic systems. Environmental scientists test for contaminants. Survey crews verify legal boundaries match parcel descriptions and geographical markers.

What resources indicate fair Louisiana land value by parish and region?

Annual LSU agriculture reports detailing rural real estate sales trends by geography plus individual parish assessor records of recent comparable land transactions in nearby neighborhoods help gauge prevailing per acre pricing aligned with micro-markets versus statewide averages.

How can brokers assist land buyers in Louisiana?

Qualified real estate professionals familiar with buying/selling acreage within targeted Bayou State parishes offer invaluable guidance navigating negotiations, deriving appraisals, identifying any encumbrances and advising around customary regional norms for purchase terms to yield mutual gain.

What ownership expenses beyond principal land cost should Louisiana buyers budget for?

Aside from base pricing, historians advise projecting at least 20% contingencies for associated permitting, site preparation like driveway grading, utility connections, transactional costs plus future recurring tax and maintenance obligations according to land type.

What steps verify land condition before buying acreage in Louisiana?

Experts recommend buyers personally traverse the full property area on foot pre-closing scanning for flooding risks, previous construction signs like abandoned pilings, missing plot markers and documenting ingress roads status to support heavy equipment later. Address issues upfront.

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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