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How to Do It: The questions to ask yourself before buying a Texas ranch or land

 Buying land isn't quite as straightforward as some people might believe, especially without deep knowledge of the real estate market. The appeal of a parcel of land as a blank canvas to create a dream intrigues scores of people — and it's a great decision (and investment) for many. But, you need to know the right questions to ask yourself before embarking on a land-buying journey. Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty has a unique group of expert agents who specialize in ranches and land, and there are no finer guides through the process of acquiring land that suits your needs, from a couple of acres to thousands. Before you take that initial step, however, read through these nine questions the team has compiled, so you can get a better understanding of the important information you'll need to gather from your agent after pondering the answers for yourself, of course. The possibilities for procuring land in the great state of Texas are practically limitless.

What is the reason you're buying land: Business? Pleasure? Both?

It's vital that you have an idea of the end-use for the property. Will you be building a home? A commercial building? Or maybe a home that you'll lease to vacationers rather than living in full-time yourself? With so much wide-open space, the options are infinite. Researching the applicable zoning laws and deed restrictions in a particular jurisdiction will determine whether your big plans are feasible from the get-go or if you need to go through the process of potentially getting the land use reassessed so you can build whatever you want on your own property. Getting a survey of your land can help greatly, too.

What is the best location to accomplish what I want to do?  

The ranch-and-land experts at Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty will help you search through available land for sale throughout the state of Texas, but it will help if you narrow your parameters first. If you're planning to build a home on the property, you need to figure out where you want to set down roots. Do you want to be near a major city such as Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston or Austin? Or more out in the open spaces, far from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas? If you're going to use the land to build a commercial structure, does it need to be near shipping hubs or rail lines? These are just a few additional things to consider when browsing through land options.

What are the sources of water? Are they dependable?  

The more rural the property, the more important these two questions become. If you're not too far off the beaten path, you'll have a greater likelihood of having access to public water supplies. If not, check to see if wells exist in the area, how deep they are, and also the number of gallons per minute (GPM) the well can typically be expected to produce. In all scenarios above, it's essential to ask how dependable the water sources are, too.

What is the water quality? 

Say you discover there is easy access to water on your new property. Now you need to make sure the water is safe to drink or use on the land for other purposes. The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water is a great place to start, but your Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty agent can point you in the right direction, too, if the information isn't already available on the land's listing.

What is the availability of utilities?  

Knowing the available providers for your electricity, gas, telephone, internet, television service and other utilities will also help you narrow down land opportunities that are best suited to your needs. You don't want any surprises after the purchase, especially if you plan to build a dwelling with all the creature comforts you crave.

What does future appreciation look like?  

Your Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty agent can also help you calculate increases and decreases in a property's value, based on things such as inflation, improvements you'll be making to the property (if any) and demand for real estate in the area where you're purchasing land.

Would it be a desirable property for someone else to buy?  

Once you determine the expected appreciation or depreciation, you should also investigate nearby properties and how long they've been on the market, or how long they were on the market before their current owners took possession. Evaluate which features on similar land plots in the area may have been a factor in their sale (or stagnation) in the market. Your agent can also help you determine what makes a plot of land more desirable to future buyers, if this purchase is an investment for eventual resale than a purchase for other reasons.

For livestock production, what is the stocking rate?  

To maintain an agricultural exemption, an absolute minimum of 10 acres is typically what's needed or required, all based on whether you'll be running livestock on your property or if you'll be leasing it to someone else for that use. Different counties have different requirements, so you can call county appraisers to determine exactly how much livestock you can have, as well as the stocking rate. A visit to the Texas Comptrollers website also provides valuable information. And, of course, your agent can point you in the right direction if cattle or other livestock are part of your future plans.

What is the general weather?

Check the historical weather data for the land you're looking to purchase by clicking the National Weather Service archive, which will show you everything from temperatures to accumulated rainfall (or snowfall), as well as a daily climatology report that will help give a broad picture of what you can expect from Mother Nature. This information will be especially important if you plan to use the land for farming, grazing livestock, establishing a homestead or some combination of these activities.

A ranch-and-land specialist at Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty can help with all the essential questions  and will be a source of boundless information for what will be one of the most exciting adventures you could undertake. Meet them all here.



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