Thinking of Buying Rural Land in Alabama? Here are some Helps on Getting Started.

Are you beginning your search of rural land for sale in Alabama? This article is aimed at providing some helpful resources to move your forward in your selecting the right property.

I deal with many first-time land buyers who are in the early stages of their search. As with many other things that you do for the first time, you have to learn as you go. Sometimes you don't even know the right questions to ask. So this piece is aimed at helping you have a decent starting point from which to begin your search.

1. What type of property you are looking for, and what features should it have? Sit down with a pad and paper and think through the reasons you are buying the property. Is it an investment for retirement? Is it primarily for recreation or hunting? Do you intend to build on the property? What features are non-negotiables? (ie… water, power, road frontage, timber, joining National Forest) It is frustrating for you and an agent to take you to several different properties before you even know what you want.

I had a prospective buyer call asking about land that was nearly 1000 acres in size. After we walked over a 78 acre parcel of timberland, he told me he would ideally like about 10 acres near a big lake. Well, nothing we talked about or looked at fit that bill. I could have helped steer him in a completely different direction if he had communicated what he wanted.

2. Who loans money for rural land, and what terms can I get? Typically we point people toward two companies that specialize in land loans: First South Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit. For specific loan information you should contact them directly. Generally they will finance property with 20% to 25% down and they can amortize a property out to 20 years. Interest rates are generally slightly higher than residential mortgage rates. You might also check with local banks or credit unions.

3. How can I educate myself on buying land before I actually go look at properties? There are lots of wrinkles to buying rural properties, and it is better to avoid getting an education in the school of hard knocks if possible. I would recommend visiting landthink.com to "Get Land Smart". This site features scores of articles devoted to providing information to buyers and sellers on a wide range of topics. These articles are written by professionals in many different disciplines pertaining to rural land.

Additionally, you should find a land professional in your area who can give you some good advice and steer you in the right direction. I would caution you to be aware if you call a listing agent on a particular property, that generally that agent is already working for the seller. This means that often the agent has the best interest of the seller in mind, and may not be able to provide the professional advice you desire. It is possible to enlist the help of a buyer's agent who will exclusively represent your interests. This is not required, but might prove to be helpful. In Alabama, a real estate agent should disclose to you at the first meeting how they will be working with you. (ie… seller's agent, working with you as a buyer's agent, dual agent representing both parties, or working with you as a transaction broker) This disclosure is required by Alabama real estate law.

General Advice about buying rural land:

1. Shop with an "exit strategy" in mind. Buy a property that you can re-sell if you need to in the future. Find a tract with features that others will find desirable. Many landowners I am representing today were not expecting to need to sell five years ago.

2. Educate yourself as before going to preview rural land; then while you are looking at land listen to what the agent has to say.  Don't feel pressured to impress the agent with how much you know about buying rural land. Ask questions, listen, and learn from the agent you are spending time with. If it sounds like the agent is "puffing" or trying to pressure you into something, find another agent you feel comfortable with.

3. Get your ducks in a row at the start. Abraham Lincoln once stated, "If I had eight hours to cut down a tree, I would spend the first six hours sharpening my axe." If you will do your homework early in the process, you will be ready to make the purchase when presented with the right property. You can avoid pitfalls that can be frustrating or costly down the road.

If you are searching for rural land in Alabama, contact me to see how I can be helpful. AlaLandCo has over 400 different pieces of rural land for sale across the state, so we can certainly help you locate the right tract.

About jonathangoode

Jonathan Goode is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) with Southeastern Land Group, and is a licensed broker in Alabama and Mississippi. Jonathan specializes in serving buyers and sellers of farmland, timberland, hunting properties and recreational tracts of rural land.
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