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10.4.2019

Important Considerations When Buying Commercial Land

Whether you’re expanding your company’s operations, building a brand-new business from scratch or looking for a new investment, finding, buying and developing commercial land is a valuable proposition that is widely perceived as a sign of organizational success.

Buying commercially zoned land isn’t something to jump head-first into. The process should involve meticulous research, planning and consideration to ensure you’re getting the perfect parcel to suit your particular needs.

As one of the Midwest’s leading full-service real estate firms, Farbman Group has decades of proven experience in real estate development and site selection. To help you make the best decision possible, we put together a few important points you should consider when buying commercial land.

Zoning

Zoning is the first and most important thing you should think about when buying land, as zoning laws, regulations and ordinances set by the city will greatly affect your future business plans. For instance, plans to build a commercial office may not work out if the land is zoned for residential or industrial use.

Aside from the type of property you can build on the land, zoning also affects matters such as:

  • Noise levels
  • Business signage
  • Parking regulations
  • Waste management
  • Location on utility lines
  • Size and height of buildings 

In cases where zoning is not attuned to the needs of your business, you don’t need to give up right away. If your heart is set on a specific property that’s not zoned properly, it’s best to have an experienced commercial real estate broker like Farbman Group negotiate a contract contingent on re-zoning the land or getting a variance allowing you to deviate from the rules set by the city. In many cases, this can be avoided entirely by using a broker who identifies land that checks all the boxes you’re looking for.

Access

When building on commercial land, it’s vital to ensure it will be able to fit future accessibility needs. For instance, would there be room to add additional parking? Are you able to add extra ingress and egress? Is it easy to reach major freeways? Can construction equipment easily enter and exit the site during construction?

Depending on your plans, “location, location, location” doesn’t have to be the foremost deciding factor when buying commercial land, but it will always carry a level of importance that should always be taken into consideration.

Utilities

If you’re thinking about buying a certain piece of commercial land, it’s never safe to assume that all the utilities you’ll need will be available. You should always ask ahead of time to avoid potentially high hidden costs. Utilities to consider include:

  • Phone/internet lines
  • Septic system
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas

In the instance that the land you’re looking at does not offer specific utilities, you will then need to look into what it will take to acquire them. In some cases, the additional cost to add a utility to the framework can outweigh the benefit of owning it in the first place. 

Land Makeup

Another consideration to take when buying commercial land is the design and topography of the property. A good inspector will be able to point out potential issues of concern, such as:

  • Soil quality
  • Easements
  • Floodplains
  • Slope of the land
  • Nearby water sources
  • Underground pipes and/or storage tanks

Any or all of the above issues and more should be addressed before moving forward with the purchasing process to ensure you receive the best value for your business plan and guarantee future success.

Deed Restrictions

If you’ve finally found a piece of commercial property that meets zoning requirements, has all available utilities, is set on a solid piece of land and is easily accessible, deed restrictions can still pop up as the lone remaining obstacle.

A deed restriction is created by prior land or title owners to determine how future owners can use the land. Although a property is zoned for commercial use, a deed restriction could still legally forbid any commercial development from commencing—superseding zoning ordinances.

Other common deed restrictions include:

  • Building height
  • Building characteristics
  • Property maintenance requirements

If you’re faced with a deed restriction on land preventing you from completing your business objective, a commercial real estate broker like Farbman Group can work to determine the best path moving forward, including finding more suitable options or working with the previous title owner to modify the deed restriction, if applicable.

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If you have questions about purchasing or selling commercial land, contact Farbman Group and get in touch with an expert on our real estate development team.