So!...You want to buy some cheap land in sunny Arizona that you found advertised on the internet. Great! But first, to avoid future "surprises", heartbreak and expenses, please follow this due deligence check list to help insure you purchase the best property for your investment and needs.
Buying Land Due Diligence
1. TERRAIN - Is the property flat, hilly, or on a cliff? The only way to really determine exactly what you are getting is to see the land before you buy. Google Earth can give you a rough idea of the location and rough surroundings look like, but can also be deceptive as far as topography is concerned. The 10 acre parcel above is beautiful and has incredible unobstructed views, however there will be costs to grading out an area for a home site.
2. Treed Vs. Cleared- Mesquite trees grow like weeds in this area and much raw land is covered with this prickly native of Texas. Removing and clearly land is an added expense and this cost should be factored into any raw land purchase.
3. FLOOD ZONE?- Although we live in a high desert climate zone, seasonal rains can run quickly through low lying areas. Natural "washes" or arroyos can be seen on aerial maps. Some of these are quite deep and almost look to be fissures. These cracks in land show the force of the water running through during heavy rains. Our property borders a wash area. The rain runs down from the main road north in front of our property and turns east at our property line. This low lying area is not acceptable for structures. We were aware of this when we purchased and had planned this area to be a horse corral. We paid cash for this land purchase. Had we taken a loan, flood insurance would have been required. If building without a loan, there may be added requirements to foundation heights to gain building permits. Check the FEMA flood zone map to determine if property is in a flood zone deemed by FEMA. There are different zones and being in a flood zone does not mean the land is unsuitable. It will, however effect building and insurance costs.
4. County maintained road- There are 2 kinds of dirt roads: those that are maintained (graded) by the county and those that are not. It is important to know what kind of road leads tp your property and also if you have access / easement from a road at all. Roads that are not graded may be very difficult to traverse and get to your property unless you have a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle. You may also need to factor in the expense of having your road graded out occasionally.
5. UTILITIES- ELECTRIC, SEPTIC, WATER: Does the property have any of these utilities in place? If so, you are ahead of the game. If not, your cheap land is no longer cheap. The electric co-op SSVEC will charge give an estimate on costs of running electric after application is sent in to them. Our home was roughly 2 spans away from electric pole. They gave us an estimate of 13.5 K to get power to house. This would have included the transformer and power to the box. This was back in 2009. We opted to go solar. Our small solar setup began with 6 panels, Outback inverter and 8 marine type batteries at a cost of about 20k, We have added 6 more panels to this since. I will detail more in the OFF GRID LIVING page. The septic runs around 5K- 8K to permit and install. My husband did some of the work and this kept the cost down a bit. As for a well, it will cost anywhere from 20-30 K and upwards depending on the depth. We opted to haul water which is also detailed in OFF GRID LIVING page. Also, be aware that a lot smaller than an acre needs to be have much consideration on the location of septic and well.
6.Cell phone service- Verizon is the best choice for coverage in this area. There are pockets of no service here and there and it is advisable to visit the property and check this out especially if you work from home on the internet. Valley Telecom can provide internet service to most areas but again there are certain areas they may not. In that instance a Verizon hot spot device can be installed as long as you get a good signal.
7. ZONING-COCHISE COUNTY ZONING is varied and it is important to know the zoning of the property before you purchase. Do your plans include a site built, manufactured or tiny house or did you have plans to live in a travel trailer on the property? What are your plans for black water disposal? Do you intend to have more than one dwelling on the property? Know the regulations before buying!