Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Virginia

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Virginia
By

Bart Waldon

If you're weighing whether or not to buy land in Virginia, there are a number of factors to consider. The state offers plenty of pros but also some potential cons to land ownership. By evaluating the key benefits and challenges, you can decide if purchasing acreage in Virginia is the right move for you.

Why Buying Land in Virginia Appeals to Many

For a lot of folks, Virginia offers the ideal landscape to own a piece of. The state really does have a lot going for it if you're looking to buy land.

Diverse Natural Beauty Across the State

You'll find incredible diversity in Virginia's scenery. The Atlantic coastline has lovely sandy beaches while the Piedmont region boasts rolling hills. Head farther west and you'll reach the rugged Appalachian Mountains. With winding rivers and creeks throughout, the state is a nature lover's dream. Whether you want waterfront property, vistas of vineyards, or a mountain retreat, Virginia has scenic options in every corner.

Mild Seasons and a Long Growing Season

Another reason farmland and rural acreage appeal to many in Virginia is the temperate climate. Compared to other parts of the U.S., Virginia winters are relatively short and mild while summers get hot and humid but cool off in the evenings. You get four distinct seasons full of color. Gardening enthusiasts also love that frost typically doesn't hit until November with the last spring frosts in late March/early April. That's a long growing season suitable for most any crop.

Close to Major East Coast Cities

Virginia manages to maintain a rural, small town vibe despite its proximity to major metro hubs. The northern part of the state borders Washington D.C. while the Virginia Beach area surrounds Norfolk. And cities like Richmond, Roanoke, and Charlottesville provide urban amenities within reach. So even if you buy a secluded mountain property, you aren't far from an international airport when you want a quick weekend getaway.

Rich History and Small Town Charm

As one of the first American colonies, Virginia is steeped in centuries of history dating back to the founding fathers and Revolutionary War. That heritage is felt in the charming small towns and historic sites like Civil War battlefields, Washington's Mount Vernon estate, and Jefferson's Monticello. For some land buyers, owning a piece of such a historic state is a dream come true.

Low Taxes and Business-Friendly

Another appeal for folks looking at Virginia land is the tax structure. Property taxes are reasonable compared to other states while income tax rates range from only 2% to 5.75%. And if you run a business from your land, corporate taxes are just 6% while estate taxes were eliminated back in 2007. Virginia tries hard to attract entrepreneurship by keeping taxes low.

Great Farmland Opportunities

Between the climate, soils, and geography, there's tremendous agricultural potential in the state which attracts farmers and ranchers. Whether it's row crops, orchards, livestock, vineyards, or specialty harvests, Virginia has millions of acres well-suited for agricultural use. For buyers wanting to lease or work the land themselves, farming in Virginia can be extremely profitable.

Potential Drawbacks of Owning Virginia Land

Of course, purchasing land anywhere also comes with downsides. Virginia is no exception. There are a few things to keep in mind.

Challenging Mountain and Karst Terrain

Large parts of western Virginia have very hilly, rugged topography that can make building and accessing land difficult. There are also areas of karst geology marked by sinkholes, caves, and underground streams that complicate construction. And heavy rainfall turns some properties into mud pits. Make sure to evaluate the lay of the land closely before buying.

Short Growing Seasons in Higher Elevations

If you plan to farm or garden, be aware that areas above 2,500 feet in elevation will have a compressed growing season. While the valleys enjoy a longer spring, summer, and fall, locations in the higher mountains get hit with earlier frosts. For folks who want to grow cold-sensitive fruits and vegetables, it's something to consider.

Zoning and Permitting Can Be a Headache

Depending on where you buy and what you want to do, local zoning rules may throw up barriers or require permits. Whether it's regulations on outbuildings if you want to live there or right-to-farm ordinances if you want to raise livestock, get familiar with the fine print for the area. Never assume you can just do whatever you want on Virginia land.

Hurricane Risk in Coastal Areas

Compared to other southeastern coastal states, Virginia's vulnerability to tropic storms and hurricanes is relatively low. But it's not zero. The tidewater region remains at risk mainly during August and September. While wind and flooding may not be as severe as further south, it's still a possibility to prepare for. Definitely do your homework on storm surge history in coastal towns.

Premium Pricing in Hot Real Estate Markets

Some of the most desirable areas like Northern Virginia and Richmond carry premium price tags, especially for acreage that already has nice homes, barns, and other improvements. If having an existing cherry orchard or vineyard with a charming farmhouse is on your wish list, be prepared to pay top dollar in hot real estate markets. More remote rural areas typically sell for less per acre.

Ongoing Reforestation Trends

Parts of Virginia are starting to resemble dense forests again with the rate of reforestation in many areas. For buyers wanting open cropland or pasture, it can be tough trying to find sizeable cleared tracts that aren't already reverting to woodlands. Be prepared to budget for clearing and cleanup costs when evaluating reforesting properties.

Occasional Drought Impacts on Wells and Crops

As with any region, Virginia experiences periods of drought that impact agriculture and well water levels. When rainfall is scarce for weeks or months, crops suffer and groundwater drops. Make sure you understand how to handle irrigation and provide water for your particular property should drought strike.

Key Questions to Ask Before Buying Virginia Land

To make sure you fully understand what you're getting into, here are some important things to research:

  • What's your plan for the property? Pick land suited for that use whether it's farming, residential, hunting, etc.
  • How accessible is the land and what road frontage does it have? Avoid issues with landlocked parcels.
  • What's the flood risk or erosion potential based on the landscape, waterways and history?
  • What utilities like electric, septic and internet service are readily available?
  • How many structures and other improvements already exist?
  • Is there an adequate water source for drinking, irrigation, animals, etc?
  • What are zoning restrictions and permit requirements for your intentions with the land?
  • What contingencies can you put in your purchase offer to protect yourself?
  • What type of professionals can help advise you about the property and transaction?

As long as you carefully weigh the pros and cons and partner with the right real estate professionals, buying land in beautiful Virginia may be a wonderful next chapter. Contact the experts at Land Boss when you're ready to begin your property search!

Final Thoughts

Purchasing land in Virginia can be an extremely rewarding investment if you weigh all the potential benefits and drawbacks ahead of time. From stunning natural beauty and a mild climate to business incentives and agricultural promise, there are many reasons Virginia land appeals to buyers. But steering clear of tricky terrain, high prices, and reforestation can be key to making the most of your property there. By asking the right questions and understanding both the pros and cons, you can decide if a piece of Old Dominion is the perfect addition to your portfolio. Just be sure to partner with trusted real estate advisors like Land Boss who will help you map out a wise approach. With expertise on your side, owning a slice of Virginia can become the dream retreat or profitable venture you desire.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main benefits of buying land in Virginia?

Some of the top perks are the beautiful scenery from the mountains to the coastline, having four distinct seasons with a long growing season, proximity to major East Coast cities, rich history, and favorable taxes for landowners and businesses. The climate and soil also make Virginia ideal for many agricultural uses.

What are some of the downsides to be aware of?

Challenging mountain terrain in the western part of the state can complicate building and access. Zoning and permitting regulations may limit what you can do. Coastal regions carry some risk of hurricanes and tropical storms. And certain high-demand areas have sky-high pricing, while other regions are heavily reforesting. Occasional drought also impacts water supply and crops.

What kind of land is easiest to develop?

Most experts recommend looking for acreage that is relatively flat, has few wetlands or streams, and is cleared or just lightly wooded. Having road frontage and utilities available to the property line is also ideal. Steep, heavily forested sites often require extensive work to prepare for buildings, farming, or other uses.

What is the average price per acre in Virginia?

It varies tremendously based on location and whether the land already has buildings, ponds or other improvements. Rural hunting land may sell for $2,000-$4,000 per acre while improved farms and residential estates will run $10,000 per acre or higher in desirable areas. Near major cities, prices for cleared parcels can top $100,000 per acre.

What professionals can help guide me in buying Virginia land?

It's smart to consult a real estate attorney to review purchase contracts. A surveyor will ensure you understand the property boundaries and conditions. Appraisers determine fair market value while inspectors assess infrastructure. Local contractors provide renovation estimates. And title companies handle closing details.

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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