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7 Steps to Buying Land in British Columbia

If you’re interested in buying land to build your dream home on, familiarize yourself with these strategies to help ensure a successful purchase.

By Emily Southey | 3 minute read

Oct 26

A vacant lot represents all kinds of possibilities. Whether you want to build a winterized chalet in Kamloops or your forever home in Langley, buying land affords many options. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to buying land in British Columbia.

 

1. Search for Land for Sale 

The first step to buying land, just as it is if you want to buy a home, is to search for available land in your preferred area. You can find this information online (a REALTOR® can also help you). However, we also recommend driving around the parts of the province you are interested in to see first-hand if there are any empty plots of land available. 

 

2. Don’t Skimp on Research 

 Buying land requires ample research; the process is not nearly as simple as buying a home. Just because you find vacant land doesn’t automatically mean that you can build a house on it. You will need to spend time researching the precise plot of land to determine if it’s zoned residential, which it needs to be for you to build a home on it. You should also have a professional survey and test the land to ensure it’s safe to build on.

 

3. Obtain a Loan (if Applicable)  

Odds are you will need some financial help if you are buying a piece of land, whether it’s in Kelowna, Port Moody or anywhere else in the province. To do this, you will likely need to obtain some kind of land loan. Mortgage lenders and banks offer land loans that are similar to regular mortgages. The main difference is that mortgage lenders tend to agree that buying land is riskier than buying a resale home. As such, the interest rates attached to your loan are likely to be much higher. The lender may also require you to make a larger down payment than you would have to for a home (sometimes as high as 50% of the purchase price). 

 

The reality is that terms and conditions for land loans vary greatly between lenders. If the terms offered to you by traditional mortgage lenders seem unreasonable, you may wish to consider working with a mortgage broker or going through a private lender. Regardless, obtaining a mortgage loan to help you fund your land purchase is an essential step of the land-buying process for most buyers.

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4. Make a Purchase Offer  

Assuming you were successful in securing your land loan, now is the time to make an offer on a lot that you love. As with a regular offer to purchase a home, all offers should be in writing and drafted with the help of a REALTOR® and your attorney. It must include key pieces of information, such as the offer price, offer expiry date, preferred closing date, your contact information, the precise location of the land, and any conditions that the offer is contingent upon.

 

5. Make the Downpayment  

If your offer to buy the plot of land is approved, the next step is to make the down payment. As mentioned above, depending on the terms of your land loan, you may be required to make a significant down payment — often between 20% and 50% of the purchase price. You’ll need to save up enough money to be able to afford this down payment. Otherwise, consider holding off until you can afford this type of purchase.

 

6. Hire Someone to Inspect the Plot  

Most land purchases in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada are contingent on a successful inspection. Just as home inspection clauses are standard in home purchase agreements, land survey inspection conditions are standard when buying land. During this step of the process, a professional will visit the plot of land in question and examine it in person. If they identify any issues, they will bring them to your attention, which you can then use to negotiate with the seller.

 

7. Finalize the Purchase  

The last step is to finalize the land purchase. This will only occur if you are satisfied with the results of the land inspection and all conditions listed in the offer are met. Before the purchase is finalized, have an attorney review all documents and agree to a closing date with the seller.

Emily Southey

Wahi Writer

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