Best way to find land?

Started by dylanthered, December 10, 2007, 11:45:59 PM

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We are searching for 1 - 5 acres.  What do you think the best technique is to find land?  We've been mostly researching and  Now that we have our credit fixed and are getting more serious we will find a realtor.  Anyone else have any magic tricks?  We are specifically looking in Western Washington.

- Dylan


We knew the area we wanted our land to be located in. So we drove around and noted the names, numbers on realtors for sale signs. Most also had web addresses.

We then called and interviewed three. We met with two. We told them what we were after. We visited some parcels with two different agents.

One of them had a parcel we liked and we made a deal on that. He also had 2 others we liked but they were more than we could afford.

Oh, we also did a MLS search but didn't find anything for us there.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.

John Raabe

There's this old chestnut from the CountryPlans archives.

Might give you some ideas if you haven't already seen it.
None of us are as smart as all of us.


Get the names of the local small town newspapers in the area and watch their classified ads. Many will have websites. Most realators are going to be selling the higher priced propertys. What you likely want to find is for sale by owner property.

Homegrown Tomatoes

Another way to sometimes find a property that suits your needs it to look on a site like and do an advanced search, requesting your specific land requirements (be sure that if you're only looking for land, you don't check single family homes or you'll end up with tons of totally useless listings.)  This is convenient if you want to rule out something before making a long trip to look at it, or if you live in a different area than you are looking to buy.  A lot of times there will be a panoramic photo tour of the property, which is can let you know if you want to take the time to look closer or not.  Last night, DH and I were looking at a listing and it said it had a "small pond" at the back of the property.  It was within our price range and in a good location, and there was an appropriate acreage, so I clicked on the virtual tour.  While the sappy elevator music is playing and the panorama is slowly scrolling across the screen, in the neighboring lot, you can see a tractor graveyard of some sort... this particular slide is labelled as "the pond: it is usually more full, but was low this day.  You can see tracks where the deer had been drinking out of it."  We're waiting and waiting and waiting to see this pond and it scrolls across a slight depression in the ground with some semi-aquatic plants growing in it and finally after much anticipation, a little mudhole, about 6' across. rofl rofl rofl We both laughed till we hurt, but it made me thankful that we hadn't made the trip to look at the place!  I couldn't believe they'd even listed the pond as an asset to the place... it looked like a mosquito-breeder to me!


We did the same sort of approach with a few modifications:

1.  How far can we drive to get there?  2 hours?  3?  If it's 5, will we ever go there?

2.  Given that number, draw a circle and find out what is in range. Ignore oceans.

3.  Identify places of interest within that circle, like Dad's house or other places you wouldn't mind stopping in on the way to or from.

4.  Use to see if you can still afford any of these places.

5.  Make a commitment to go out evry other weekend and look at places.  If it's too much to do that, it might not be a good time to buy a place.  You'll certianly get the feel of the drive.

6.  Depending on how you feel about such things, omit places with roads with flood warning signs or "No Snow Removal" signs.  Can you drive there enough of the year?

7.  Get thee to a realtor.  Better yet, 2 or 3.  Ask about areas.  We were told that the people in one area were so non-plussed by new people that they would shoot at them.

8.  Ask the owner, realtor, and neighbors about the weather.  Since you might not get a year to check it out, you might want to know about the venturi winds that knock down everything or the annual flooding or the three weeks of 105 degree heat.  You can also go to and get some historical averages for the area.  But people right there are better.

9.  I used Google Earth to get an idea of what the views would look like.  Not Google Maps, but the downloadable program.  You can zoom, fly, and most importantly, tilt.  You get a good idea of what your horizon will look like, how late sunrise might come on your north slope, and what mountain runoff might contribute to a flood in your area.  After you buy the place, it also makes a great tool with Google Maps for placing your roads and buildings.


great advice from Drew

Some areas have small classified papers...And it does not even hurt to go to church in the area to meet a few people...Let them know you want to move there...they can tell you of vacant land in the area and people that may want to sell..

We started to look online...And we called a realtor and we bought a year long subscription to an awesome local classified that comes out every week for the area we were looking...Plus we looked on ebay and craigslist both have decent real estate sections

I cannot stress enough the need to go to the area and drive all the roads...We have seen so many for sale signs on land that is not to be found on the internet web sites...

So the best advice I can give is to put your eggs in all the baskets and use all these tools to find land


Another possible way to find land which is not listed is to contact local loggers. We purchased our land from a local logger who buys large tracts of raw land, harvests the wood, and then sub-divides the property into good sized lots. They are allowed only so many lots in so many years, or they get into a tangle of sub-division laws, rules and regulations. We chose the owner finance route, with the intent of refinancing soon. Or better yet, just paying it off! [cool]
This is a win-win situation for all, as the buyer gets prime land (sometimes) and the logger has an income after he retires! Also, this land is rarely advertised!

The local Uncle Henry's magazine is also a good choice, as benevolance said. We have the electronic subscription to that mag, which is nice because you can search for keywords and setup ticklers as well. :)