Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Michigan

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Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Michigan

Bart Waldon

Over 36 million acres blanket picturesque Michigan offering both breathtaking Great Lakes recreation frontiers and abundant inland forests prime adding recreational legacy holdings personally or diversifying investment portfolios acquiring income producing sites imaginable leveraging nature's beauty beheld. However, navigating convoluted auction listings combined township zoning variances and tax assessment appeals processes fosters atmosphere ripe mistakes failing executing prudent due diligence foreseeable roadblocks hampering visions success imagined.

This guide examines key mistakes avoiding when evaluating Michigan land deals- spanning from usage impediments like hidden easements rights failing realizing. To miscalculating true infrastructure costs preparing sites for livable structures down the road soon. Heed advice within sidestepping pitfalls better controlling deal destiny yourself.

Failing to Inspect Property Thoroughly Before Finalizing Purchase

Beyond solely reviewing listing photos, videos or even aggressive satellite imagery scanning, nothing provides more essential diligence than visually inspecting actual land live seeing unalterable on-site realities that augur certain development limitations or drastically call into question the practical usage plans motivating entire purchase rationale assumptions initially. Walking acreage and boundary edges reveals insights like:

  • Wetlands Constraints: State/Federal protected marshlands mandate permitting and mitigation structures required that hampers quick site activations sought by buyers wanting fast project timelines instead
  • Old Foundations and Possible Former Structures: Buyers inherit liability risks sites containing building remnants with asbestos or abandoned wells/cisterns requiring proper handling before safe additional land usage legally allowed further
  • Adjacent Properties: Surrounding build-outs provide telltale clues extrapolating how future usage patterns will emerge over years as development continues gradually

Basically assuming surface appearances absent boots on the ground fails properly account granular limitations hampering acquisition goals if discovered before binding agreements finalize commitments irrevocable. Verify then decide avoiding disappointments uninformed assumptions foster acting hastily otherwise.

Neglecting High Water Table Dynamics Long Term

Beyond confirming apparent ease of physical accessibility inspecting parcels onsite before acquisition agreements finalize, digging deeper requesting county hydrology tables unveils surprising snapshots revealing actual soil drainage metrics and underground water dynamics better indicating risks confrontable once excavation equipment disturbs subterranean layers that become perpetually problematic once done.

It’s far better ascertaining indications like:

  • Water Table Depth Variances: Seasonal flux means spring melt may overwhelm foundation stability without proper structural planning done ahead accounting extra mitigation costs eventually
  • Poor Percolation Ratios: Overly clay concentrations block natural filtration plunging drainage capabilities necessitating mechanical interventions supplemental
  • High Iron Concentrations Staining Fixtures: Rust seepages permeate concrete and even PVC piping across decades meaning costlier building material selection avoids replacing prematurely fails too soon otherwise

Basically, damp deals drown good intentions unless buyers factor permanent wetness management burdens into fiscal planning, especially involving structural builds, before the first shovel ploughs what later becomes a muddy money pit soon regretted. Verify drainage viability upfront avoids headaches later.

Ignoring Development Zoning Strictures Long Term

Beyond inspecting apparent acreage conditions factoring risks like flood plains or severe slope gradations challenging structural footing pours, investigating allowable usage zoning classifications locked determining buildable densities imposes hard caps subdividing potential on properties overestimated initially during purchase phases ignorant towards local township regulations aimed preserving community wide masterplans crafted. 

This leads grave disappointments when office parks or storage rental dreams confront stark Ag-Residential constraints instead hampering ambitious commerce outcomes expected more reasonably requiring approvals first should have secured before closing acquisition deals. Don't presume pre-approvals easily obtained later once vast capital already committed nonrefundable based assumptions eventually proven dead wrong. Verify zoning favors intentions on paper first confirming grounded expectations what purchased dirt legally supports usage wise realistically after.

Failing Sewage System Requirements Upfront

If suitable zoning passes initially allowing reasonably anticipated operational usages compliant enough building commercially upon land parcels acquired, gaining proper wastewater discharge approvals still represents pivotal milestone hurdle overleapt easily. Yet shocking buyers swiftly discover assumed ease connecting city drainage infrastructure access requires years navigating bureaucracies approving permits allowing dumping used water byproducts places legally once built upon. 

Between radically burdensome monthly treatment plant fees outpacing projections to installations of elaborate onsite mounded infiltration drainage field systems costing tens thousands dollars more than gravity feeds simplistically anticipated, failing confirming sewage system hurdles surmounted permits obtained dooms investment outcomes before ribbon cuttings celebrate anywhere. Solid due diligence asks drainage questions immediately.

Underestimating Access Road Infrastructure Needed

Beyond essential electrical, gas or water utility infrastructure availability interrogations posing prohibitive complications themselves unless viable neighborhood access points reachable nearby keeping linkage costs minimized, assessing transport roadway frontage traits rarely receives equal inspection priority determining long-term site operational feasibility supporting uses intended after. 

Yet discovery procuring easement approvals later construct needed paved lane access, installing commercial concrete truck weight rated culverts traversing wetland areas, and paying county highway departments actually relocate telephone poles obstructing intended driveway entrances altogether arrives as unexpected brick wall barriers hampering site readiness completion tasks soon regretted once land secured forever already. Face access limitations factoring build budgeting.

Take Key Steps Protecting Best Interests

While clearly mistakes anywhere impede progress locating ideal land site acquisitions aspired finally, enacting prudent front-end due diligence around:

  1. Physically walking entire property assessing apparent development limitations confrontable
  2. Requesting drainage percolation analysis reports on water dynamics below affecting foundations later
  3. Researching allowable use zoning classifications permitted various township region
  4. Confirming utility access infrastructure improvement costs

Positions buyers best avoiding disappointment roadblocks uncovered way too late halting aspirations secured once payments rendered property rights cemented legally past points practically rescinding transactions reasonable enough protecting principal deposited acting good faith assumptions eventually shown completely false buried details emerging eventually most unexpected ways.

Basically, verifying then validating delivers prudent deal decisioning mindset serving investors best long run. Why buy headaches wrapped dirt disguising themselves initially dream parcels envisioned when just small extra scrutiny uncovers hazards heading off properly overleapt easiest first? Heed wiser guidance repeating generations countless times over. Some mistakes remain simply avoidable ignored dangers otherwise.

Final Thoughts

While Michigan offers diverse landscape beauty from Great Lakes shorelines to hinterland forested acreage appealing future development visions imagined first, purchasers still encounter unnecessary perils failing executing prudent due diligence preemptively - from usage activity impediments like deed easements rights unnoticed initially to drastically underestimating true access road infrastructure costs preparing sites for planned builds afterward. Heed guidance above carefully inspecting parcels first while assess zoned allowances permitted before transacting deals better avoiding disappointment roadblocks uncovered too late otherwise cemented legally past points practically rescinding flawed land acquisitions easily initially. Protect yourself scrutinizing thoroughly first.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What techniques determine property soil suitability supporting future site builds best? 

Beyond visual inspections eyeing topography changes hinting drainage challenges ahead, always secure certified percolation analysis reports measuring natural water filtration rates capacity factors ensuring enough suitable absorption supporting foundations poured avoiding flooding risk. Bedrock proximity also proves insightful planning digs/pilings appropriately.

What are key zoning verification steps to enact before transacting land purchases?

Initiate zoning confirmation steps through local township supervisor offices determining designated usage classification codes legally permitted various parcels sought providing home/agriculture/commercial/ industrial separation definitions keeping highest best usages aligned preventing clashes once lands owned acting limitations unaware initially. Masterplans reveal all eventually.

Should I verify utility infrastructure improvement costs beforehand also? 

Beyond best practice verifications around physically assessing site conditions first combined confirming permissible use zoning allowances aligned planned intent both prudent before buying land, estimating expenses tapping electrical grids, water mains, gas lines and roadway frontage access points gives better total capital needs awareness managing cash flow budgets improving developing sites after purchased over time.

What risks confront land buyers failing due diligence before deals close? 

Hazards facing buyers failing proper due diligence risk inadequately understanding property flooding susceptibility thanks overlooked high seasonal water tables. Additionally, preservation easements severely hamper site development dreams absent carefully researched title chain deed digs uncovering limitations mentioned. And county highway departments may mandate frontage roadway widenings ceding portions land affected suddenly through imminent domain rights enacted unexpectedly too binding agreements inked.

What soil studies help site construction suitability decisioning properly?

Useful soil composition tests buyers commission aiding site build planning suitability includes testing pH levels ensuring needed balance between alkaline and acidic levels falling acceptable construction grade range specifications. And deeper core sampling underlying strata density offers engineers insights planning pilings/piers appropriately distribute structural weight loads bearing maximum capacities different locations across sites wisely. Don't guess. Test first.

What are "as-is" property purchase clauses and why important recognizing risks?

When property transactions contain legal verbiage limiting seller liability exposures requiring buyers accepting parcels in "as-is condition" with all defects known or unknown, immense risk transfers assuming existing problems like buried waste require extensive remediation costs unaccounted initially. Seek striking such terminology protecting interests instead.

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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