Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Michigan

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Michigan

Bart Waldon

Michigan, the Great Lake State, is known for its natural beauty, forests, lakes, and long coastlines. For outdoor enthusiasts looking to own a piece of Michigan's natural splendor, buying land in the state can be an attractive proposition. However, there are several factors to consider before purchasing land in Michigan. This article will examine the key pros and cons of buying land in the Wolverine State.

The Pros of Buying Land in Michigan

Abundant Natural Beauty

Michigan has over 11,000 inland lakes, more than any other state except Alaska. It also borders four of the five Great Lakes - Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie. This gives the state over 3,200 miles of freshwater shoreline, more than any other state except Alaska. For nature lovers, Michigan offers pristine forests, rolling sand dunes, hundreds of waterfalls and excellent spots for outdoor recreation. Owning a piece of land gives you exclusive access to enjoy Michigan's natural bounty.

Plentiful Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

Michigan is a hunter and angler's paradise. The state has healthy populations of deer, elk, bear, grouse and turkey for hunting. Its vast waters are home to prized fish like walleye, trout, bass and perch. Buying recreational land with woods and lake access provides abundant hunting and fishing opportunities right in your own backyard.

Four Distinct Seasons

Michigan enjoys four distinct seasons, each with its own charm. Spring brings budding greenery, summer offers warm sunny days on the lakes, fall fuels spectacular color shows and winter provides plenty of snow for activities like skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing. Owning land allows you to fully experience Michigan's seasonal offerings.

Rural Charms

While Michigan has big cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, much of the state is rural with small friendly towns. Buying land here can give you the peaceful pleasures of country living while still being within driving distance of urban amenities. The state's low cost of living also stretches your real estate dollars.

Business Potential

Land ownership provides business possibilities like farming, forestry, tourism or renewable energy. Michigan's business-friendly policies, skilled workforce and transportation infrastructure can support many land-based enterprises.

The Cons of Buying Land in Michigan

Harsh Winters

Snowfall and frigid temperatures grip Michigan from December through February. While picturesque, winter makes land access difficult. Outdoors activities require proper planning and heavy-duty equipment like snowmobiles. Homes and structures need robust insulation and heating.

Soil and Terrain Limitations

Michigan's soil lacks the fertility of Midwest plains states like Iowa and Illinois that support extensive commodity crop farming. The state's uneven glacial terrain also limits large-scale crop production. This restricts agricultural use of land to livestock grazing or niche crops.

Swampy Lands

Glaciation left Michigan pockmarked with depressions that fill with water creating swamps, bogs and marshes. Mosquitoes and wetness make these areas unsuitable for building or farming. Swampy lands require drainage improvements.

Remote Locations

Michigan has vast tracts of forested land far from urban areas and services. While serene, remote parcels lack electricity, internet and easy access. Living on or using such lands requires self-sufficiency and independence.

High Property Taxes

Michigan has one of the highest average property tax rates in the U.S. Taxes keep rising putting pressure on landowners. Clear tax implications before buying.

Cumbersome Zoning Rules

Michigan has complex zoning and land use laws administered by multiple local, county, state and federal agencies. For example, shoreline properties fall under stringent regulations. Understand regulations fully before purchasing lands.

Short Summer Season

Michigan's hot and humid continental climate produces a short summer season averaging just 90 frost-free days in the north to 160 days in the south. This constrains the planting, growing and harvesting seasons for agricultural operations.

Great Lakes Perils

While beautiful, the vast Great Lakes produce seiches (standing waves), rogue waves, rip currents and unpredictable storm surges posing safety hazards. Erosion also threatens coastal lands. Inland lakes see heavy recreational use. Risks factors must be evaluated when buying shoreline properties.

Key Factors to Consider When Buying Land in Michigan

  • Purpose: Determine how you want to use the land - building a home, farming, hunting, etc. This drives location, size, terrain and other criteria.
  • Access: Ensure the property has suitable frontage on county roads to allow good access. Remote parcels without road access have very limited usability.
  • Size: Acreage needed depends on intended use. For home sites, one to five acres is common but more for farming. However, larger parcels means higher taxes.
  • Topography and Soil: Choose gently rolling lands with well-drained fertile soil for agriculture. Avoid steep gradients and swampy areas.
  • Location: Remote forested areas in northern Michigan offer hunting, while central and southern regions have more farmland. Shoreline properties fall under heavy regulation.
  • Improvements: Old barns, outbuildings, fencing and irrigation facilities add value but may need repairs. Ensure any structures conform to zoning rules.
  • Utilities: Properties with existing utility hookups for electricity, gas, water and septic save time and installation costs.
  • Surrounding Lands: Check how nearby lands are used for potential lifestyle and access impacts. Agricultural lands may use chemicals, for example.
  • Natural Features: Lands with water features, scenic views and extensive woodlands have premium appeal. Verify if any environmental restrictions apply.
  • Price: Michigan has among the most affordable rural land prices in America starting from around $2,500 per acre. However, recreation lands command much higher prices.

Key Steps for Buying Land in Michigan

  1. Determine intended land use and research suitable locations and acreage.
  2. Analyze your finances and budget to set a price range. Land loans may help leverage additional acreage.
  3. Use online listings to identify potential properties and study details like topography.
  4. Tour promising sites to check access, improvements, surroundings, soil and natural attributes.
  5. Verify zoning rules, deed restrictions and disclosures with county offices before making offers.
  6. Hire a real estate attorney to review title records, sales documents and handle closing process.
  7. Line up insurance, security, maintenance and other land management requirements in advance.
  8. Enjoy your new property in the great Michigan outdoors!

Should You Buy Land in Michigan?

Michigan offers abundant natural beauty, four distinct seasons, excellent recreational opportunities, and affordable rural land prices. However, there are also downsides like brutal winters, isolated parcels, and cumbersome regulations. Deciding whether buying land in Michigan makes sense depends on several factors.

Pros of Michigan Land

  • Access to thousands of lakes, pristine forests, sand dunes and scenic vistas
  • Plentiful hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities
  • Four distinct and attractive seasons – summer, fall, winter and spring
  • Rural small-town charm at an affordable cost of living

Cons of Michigan Land

  • Harsh winters with heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures
  • Large swampy, soggy areas unsuitable for building
  • Stringent regulations especially on shoreline properties
  • Short summer growing season poses challenges for agriculture
  • Higher taxes compared to other states

Is Michigan Right for You?

Determine how you plan to use the land – homesteading, farming, recreation or investment. Then weigh the pros and cons based on your priorities. Michigan is best suited for nature lovers who value outdoor living and recreation over amenities and convenience. Do thorough research before committing to ensure Michigan land is a good fit.

Final Thoughts

Michigan's natural abundance offers many property benefits but must be weighed against considerations like harsh winters, taxes and regulations. Doing diligent research and planning is key to successfully buying land in the state. Evaluating intended use, access, utilities, price and zoning issues is essential. Working with knowledgeable real estate and legal professionals ensures your Michigan land ownership dreams become reality!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main benefits of buying land in Michigan?

Some of the top benefits of buying land in Michigan include: abundant natural beauty with forests, lakes and coastlines; four distinct and attractive seasons; plentiful hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities; rural small-town charm; and affordable land prices.

What climate factors should I consider when buying Michigan land?

Michigan has a continental climate with harsh, snowy winters with temperatures frequently below freezing from December to February. Summers are warm and humid but short with only 90-160 frost-free days. Consider these climate factors when selecting land suitable for building or agriculture.

Does Michigan have any major land use restrictions?

Yes, Michigan has complex zoning and land use regulations at multiple government levels. Shoreline properties fall under especially strict rules. Carefully research regulations based on intended land use before purchasing a property.

What natural features indicate good land quality in Michigan?

Look for gently rolling terrain, well-drained soils, freshwater access, mature woodlands, scenic views and habitat for fish and game when evaluating Michigan land quality. Avoid excessively steep, swampy or remote sites.

What steps should I take when preparing to buy land in Michigan?

Research intended use, survey finances, study listings, tour prospective parcels, verify zoning rules, get professional inspections, review title records with a real estate attorney, and line up insurance/maintenance needs before finalizing a Michigan land purchase.

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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