Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Ohio

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Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land in Ohio

Bart Waldon

With over 26 million acres of farmland, woods and rural space blanketing the Buckeye State, Ohio offers plentiful options whether seeking open crop acreage tangling with heartland roots or scenic wooded hideaways abutting meandering streams. However, bungled land deals also lurk behind mistakes and assumptions commonly made by overeager yet underprepared buyers seduced by picture-perfect parcel photography or affordable listed prices tagged below statewide land valuation averages. Understanding what due diligence steps get overlooked and misconceptions first-timers fall victim towards helps steer prudent purchasers clear of regret and around ruinous transaction turbulence. Consider lessons learned from experience so the Ohio land deals done right the first time.

Presuming All Land Immediately Buildable

While zoning codes technically may permit eventual construction occupying land sites acquired, additional restrictions often severely limit immediate ability developing property plots purchased absent proper preliminary planning. For example:

Undisclosed Conservation Easements 

Mandates preserving natural land areas like wetlands, old-growth tree stands or migratory animal habitats frequently impose strictly limited build zones contained just to perimeter fringes of raw land tracts essentially sterilizing the true acreage utility absent proper due diligence spotting these land use limitations encumbering sites.

100-Year Flood Plains 

Federal flood insurance rate mapping tools detail high-risk zones prone to routine seasonal flooding that require elevated foundation construction costs or outright prohibit inhabitable dwellings completely negating site buildability feasibility for buyers seeking quick development flipping or rental income potential speedily.

Sensitive Terrain Issues 

From high water tables causing insufficient septic system drain fields suitability declaring properties “unbuildable” by state health departments to extreme slope gradations requiring expensive excavation and shoring wall reinforcements before stabilizing home pads atop steep Appalachian ridgelines, Ohio’s diverse topography hides tricky hindrances uncovered only after land purchases strike post-closing.

Prospective buyers should evaluate county planning department documentation, order land survey analysis by certified site engineers and thoroughly probe previous development attempt records even if acreage appears superficially build-ready by outward appearance alone initially during showings. Understand what buildability rights truly exist before finalizing land deals rather than presuming turnkey construction status approved.

Neglecting to Verify Access Rights

Landlocked properties severely diminish asset utility and require successfully navigating cumbersome legal processes establishing public easement access corridors just to make sites reachable for owners later - let alone viable for development lacking roadway frontage visibility. Savvy buyers avoid disappointment confirming:

Documented Rights-of-Way 

Require recorded access guarantees keeping ingress/egress clearly designated favoring subject parcels legally as essential deeds elements before transferring sales.

Public Road Frontage 

Privately shared driveways flagged for dispute risks by title insurers signal headaches inability expanding site entry points for increased future occupancy limits on land tracts purchased second-hand.

Section Line Access Clarity 

Adjoining acreage ownership fragmentation over generations often clouds once nominal neighborly fence line crossing arrangements now contested heatedly blocking historic footpaths used reaching isolated inner land areas. Formalize crossing easements.

While country lanes retaining rustic charm attract land seekers visualizing peaceful countryside refuge, make certain romanticized access notions align legally with documented passage privileges now attached permanently to remote Ohio land tracts bought free of obstruction liabilities that could encumber free enjoyment rights post purchase.

Limited Mineral Rights Hazards

In regions like Eastern Ohio where active subsurface mining traditionally thrived along richness of shale belts and coal seams threading Appalachia's subterrain geography, one commonly underestimated asset class tied directly land ownership rights lies minerals deposits perhaps hidden miles beneath surface acres purchased. Savvy buyers beware risks:

Severed Estate Sales 

Prior owners may have signed away or sold off any and all interest in future valuations associated with resources extracted from below lands now offered for sales lacking clear disclosure on the severed rights transfers history. Question severance.

Third Party Extraction Claims 

Adjoining underground mine operations or hydraulic fracturing wells tapping into deposits originating beneath lands newly acquired can possibly spark nasty legal battles arguing certain subsurface mineral rights ownership especially involving fossil fuel or rare earth metals terrains prone around Ohio unless previous title conveyance rulings clearly delineated allocation percentages owed.

Skin Deep Sales Terms 

Failure double-checking deeds specifics outlining rights conveyed often incorrectly assumes purchases include both surface and subsurface land rights unless explicitly detailed otherwise. But assumptions fail safeguarding against potentially valuable mineral estate ownership stakes left unrealized or exploited by competing parties later to dismay of uninformed land buyers unaware of treasure troves either untapped or lost unknowingly left behind by narrow initial purchase terms inadequately protecting complete property interests future buyers rightly deserve benefiting from.

Valuing and negotiating Ohio’s complex split estate structure demands guidance from specialized attorneys well-versed in state laws governing property rights tied to sometimes dramatically differently owned strata layers within lands underfoot. But taken seriously on the front-end, vital mineral rights positions properly transfer benefiting new owners rather than becoming bargaining concessions signed away unknowingly at transaction time failing appreciating the true subsurface resource revenues at stake longer term.

Final Thoughts

Buying land in Ohio can be an exciting venture, but it's not without its pitfalls. The key is to go in with your eyes wide open. Do your homework, ask the tough questions, and don't rush the process. It's easy to get swept up in the romance of owning your own slice of the Buckeye State, but remember - this is likely one of the biggest investments you'll make. Take the time to understand what you're getting into, from zoning restrictions to potential hidden costs. And don't be shy about calling in the experts when you need them. A little caution up front can save you a world of headaches down the road. With careful planning and due diligence, you'll be well on your way to making a land purchase you won't regret.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it really necessary to get a land survey? 

In a word, yes. Skipping this step is like buying a car without popping the hood. A survey will confirm the property's boundaries, reveal any easements, and highlight potential issues. It might seem like an extra expense, but it's cheap insurance against future disputes or surprises.

What's the deal with mineral rights in Ohio? 

Good question, and one that's often overlooked. In Ohio, mineral rights can be separated from surface rights. This means someone else might have the right to extract resources from under your land. Always check the deed and title history, and consider having a lawyer review the mineral rights situation before you buy.

Do I really need to worry about flood zones when buying land? 

Absolutely. Ohio's got its fair share of rivers and streams, and flooding can be a real issue. Being in a flood zone can affect everything from your insurance costs to what you're allowed to build. Check FEMA flood maps and local records, and consider how water flow might impact your plans for the property.

How important is road access when buying rural land? 

Crucial. You'd be surprised how many people fall in love with a piece of land only to realize later that getting to it is a headache. Make sure there's legal, year-round access to the property. If it's only accessible through someone else's land, you'll need to secure an easement - and that can get complicated.

Should I just trust the seller's word on utilities and septic systems? 

Not if you want to avoid a potential mess. Always verify what utilities are available and their condition. For rural properties, check if there's a septic system and when it was last inspected. If you'll need to install a new one, make sure the soil is suitable - this can be a major expense if not planned for.

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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