“What are the three most important things to consider when you buy real estate?” “Location, Location, Location!” You've probably heard that old joke before, and while it's not very funny it is very true. Location is king in real estate, and not every lot is the same. To get a really great house not only do you need have a great location in the right part of town with good schools, you also need to have a good piece of land too, because a great house starts with a great lot!

That's why I'm going to give you 7 tips for picking a lot to build your new house on. But first let's talk about why picking a lot can be challenging.

The Difficulty Picking a Great Lot

When I show resale homes to buyers that are located on less than desirable lots, they often ask me "who would have bought a house on a lot like this to begin with?" The reasons that come to mind are "they must have been desperate," or "it must have been one of the last lots left."Map of Del Webb's Mirehaven Neighborhood

However, the truth is that it's not easy picking a great lot when you're building a new construction home. It's much easier when you go to look at a resale homes to assess the quality of a lot. In fact, I rarely see any of my buyer clients choose a bad lot when we're out there looking at used houses.

When you're at the new home sales center, you may get to look at a neighborhood map, but that's only slightly helpful, and not everyone's map reading skills are the same. Then you'll probably get in your car and drive to see the lot after you've picked it, but without your house being built you can't look at the views out of the windows or walk around in the backayrd. You can't try it on for size. And without the neighborhood being completed it's impossible to understand how your house is going to fit and how the traffic is going to flow and other things like that.

Related Post: 7 Tips for Making a Smart Home Purchase

7 Tips for Picking a Lot to Build Your New House On

Since it can be so difficult to pick a great lot, here's a checklist of questions you should consider before you pick a lot:

  • Think hard before you buy a house on a corner lot. In some older neighborhoods, corner lots are great because they have a backyard and a sideyard too, there are no neighbors on one side, and you may have mountain views. However, if it's on a busy corner, all you may be looking at is cars and trucks driving by. And I rarely see corner lots today that have both back yards and side yards. The developers have figured out how to eliminate that and squeeze more houses into an acre.
  • Don't buy a house that backs up to a busy road. I think this one's pretty obvious. Busy roads are noisy and detract from a home's resale value. What's not so obvious when a neighborhood is first being built may be just how busy that road is going to be. Check on the city or county's website and see if there is a map you can look at to understand where the four lane roads are going to.
  • Don't buy a house that has a vacant lot behind it. Unless it's in the same subdivision and will be built on shortly. Of course if you're buying a one story home with a view out the back, they might build a two story right behind you blocking the views. Expect it to happen. If the lot behind you is vacant and it's not part of the same subdivision you better find out if it's zoned commercial or special use. If the lot back up to the unknown it's a risky buy.
  • Find out what was on the site before the subdivision was developed. No, I'm not worried about ancient burial grounds, I'm talking about areas in the city perhaps, where old businesses once stood where the lot you're looking at buying is located. There can be environmental concerns. 
  • Pick the direction the front of the house will face carefully. Houses that face north can have snow left on the driveway two weeks after it's melted everywhere else, however if you want that sunny year round southern exposure that may be right for you. Of course more sun means a high air conditioning bill. Plus, if you're planning to add solar panels to your house and it faces the wrong way, or if it's a one story home that's going to be sandwiched in between two story homes, you may have issues.
  • Don't buy a lot with an irregular shape. Weirdly shaped lots can happen when a house is built on a cul-de-sac. The builders may charge a premium on the lot because it measures larger than the others, but they don't always place the house right in the middle of the lot, and that will affect usage. Engineers determine where the house will sit, not you. Sometimes the house will be placed off to one side to allow for proper drainage. You need to consider how you'll want to use the yard and if it's going to suit your purposes. If the yard is problematic that's a bad sign for now and for later when you go to sell.
  •  Don't by a lot with a steep slope. If it does, you may have to look into terraced landscaping and that's expensive. It also minimizes the useable area of the yard of the yard if you have dogs or kids.

You Don' t Have to Go It Alone!

Realtors like me sell new construction homes just like we sell resale homes. I can help you pick a great lot to build your new house on, plus I can help you negotiate a better deal and get in on incentives that home builders sometimes don't advertise, except to Realtors. The best part of all is that it does not cost you more to use me, it's already built into the price. If it's already built into the price, why wouldn't you want an experienced real estate agent by your side?

Let me know if you are considering new construction options and let's chat before you make any mistakes!

by Albuquerque Real Estate Agent Rich Cederberg, eXp Realty (505) 803-5012