Four Questions to Ask Before Buying Land

There’s no denying the demand we’re seeing for land and rural properties this year. Residents want to move out to the country to pursue their passions and grow their businesses and families with open space. Land purchases are going fast, but it’s a process that should not be rushed.

With more than 100 years of experience in working with realtors and buyers in the mid-Atlantic region on land purchases, we’ve heard it all. Our team has compiled a list of the top four questions you should ask before buying land:

1. How many acres is the property?

Determining the total acreage from the initial inquiry will help you as a buyer and your lender understand what you’ll have to manage, the potential real estate taxes, and depending on the land, how it can be classified (ag land, part-time farm, residential, etc.). If you have plans to build or farm on the land, a more in-depth conversation should happen between an agricultural lender like Farm Credit and the buyer to make sure the land is manageable and suitable for your goals.

2. Has the property been through a perc test?

A percolation (perc) test determines the rate in which water will absorb into the ground. This test is required when a home is being built on a property that does not have city sewage/water. This is important to ask before purchasing the land because if the perc test fails, you could be unable to build on the land, if that’s the intent of your purchase. If it is, your lender will want to make sure you’re able to build, either now or in the future.

3. Will it require a sand mound?

Mound septic systems, referred to as sand mounds, are sometimes required on land with shallow soil depth, poor soil structure, high groundwater or water table, or shallow bedrock that is close to the surface. If your property does require a sand mound, be sure to look into the price of these and how they will look in your yard. 

4. Any zoning issues for small farming?

If you plan to do any small farming on your land, you need to make sure your local zoning will allow it before purchasing. Your new neighbors may have noise complaints along with animal or pollution complaints, which can lead to township issues. Also, knowing if you’re zoned agricultural or residential will help determine if your real estate taxes are at a lower rate.

When going through the process of searching for land Rhiannon Levan, Farm Credit Mortgage Loan Originatorand finding your dream property, there will be many other questions that come up before settlement. Some things may seem minor at the moment, like access to internet and cell service, but end up being major in the long haul. Open communication and transparency with both your realtor and lender will help the process go smoothly and ensure you’re buying the right land for you and your business or family! Reach out to our team today at or call 888.339.3334 to start the process of owning your perfect piece of quiet.


This article was written by Farm Credit Mortgage Loan Originator, Rhiannon Levan in our Mount Joy, PA office.