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huntingislife

Land Buying Tips

27 posts in this topic

We are currently looking for some lakeshore property. We would prefer to find raw land and start from there. Does anybody have any tips on what to look out for, avoid, or inquire about. I am familiar with the general things to look for but am looking for some furthur insight or experience. Maybe issues that came up in hindset. Thanks Guys!

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Make sure you try to see what the neighbors are like... we have a great neighbor and an "interesting" neighbor smile but that is relatively easy to fix, plant blue spruce, ha! Just so you know what you are getting yourself into.

I would also go and look at the shoreline in July or August, when the weeds are in full force and the water is at its lowest. Spring time lakes are always at their clearest.

Go and check the local building codes and setbacks, just so you know you have enough room to do whatever you plan in the future. Look at where the neighbor's wells/septics are, so you don't end up being squeezed out. Also, is there a "bluff"? We have a hill, but when building found out part of it is a bluff, so that affected placement of foundation a bit. No biggie, just be aware.

Try to see where the sunset lies. We are on West side, and sunrises are great, but we don't get a sunset over the lake. No real biggie, but something to consider. On the flip side, those on east side of the lake have to contend with super hot sun ALL afternoon, and trust me, that gets hot in July and August. Trade offs all over.

Good luck, getting our lot/cabin was the best thing we ever did. I love it.

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Check the ordinances and building setbacks, and have an idea of what kind of structure and size you want to build, so when it comes time to build there are no suprises

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I second the idea of talking with neighbors to make sure there aren't any problems there.

If you are looking at land with no access you will need a new road/driveway, check that there is an easement already made or make sure one is drawn up before you purchase. While neighbors can't landlock you, it can be expensive and stressful to have to take someone to court to get a cartway.

If there are multiple pieces of property for sale or if there is undeveloped private property nearby, always assume the worst. Someone may buy it in the future, cut down every tree, and throw up some huge and/or ugly place right next to you.

Steve

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I agree with all the above. We don't have a lake lot, so I can't speak directly to those issues. I can add a couple things though.

Check with the real estate company to see if there are any covenants on the property(s) they're selling. We bought our lot from Naterra (highly recommend), and they really go the extra mile to ensure that the properties remain as natural and true to the environment as much as possible.

They also outline exactly what can be built, as far as minimum and maximum square footage, colors that can be used etc. May sound intrusive, but it really isn't. It also ensures that your neighbor won't put up a pink Mac-Mansion next door.

Also - If there are multiple lots being sold, ask them if there will need to be a road association, or some type of property owners association once all the lots are sold.

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Get a hold of the county that you are buying in and find out if the property is considered WETLAND. You will be suprised what is considered wetland. We bought lake property (8 acres) and found out most of it is wetland but were able to jump through the hoops to build what we needed. Over half of it is open farm field, I could actually plow it up and farm it but don't dare build anything on it.

Good Luck,

Mike

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Check with sewer and water contractors to make sure something can be done. NE Minn may find a lot of granite and high costs for both, SW Minn may have trouble finding water. I would bet that any sewer or water contractor from a given area is likely to have enough experuience to know what you're looking at.

What might it cost to get power to the building? Phone if you care, or cell coverage if you'd go that route.

Absolutely go and talk to the Township/City/County to find out what can and cannot be done and what they would require if you build. They may even be able to give you an idea on what the taxes would be if you gave them approximate values. Could be tough if you all of a sudden found out that the taxes were going to be much more than you could afford.

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Check for:

+Meet ALL the neighbors

+Research Set back from lake rules

+Research Set back from property lines rules

+Find out if the land perks

+Ask neighbors how deep their wells are and inquire about the quality of the water...helps for well budgeting

+Some places there are covenants on how many roof lines (buildings) you can have

+How close is the nearest fire dept? (Insurance $$)

+Understand shoreline development/maintenance rules

+Access to phone services

+Cell coverage

+Check DNR fish survey results and stocking reports

+Visit the lake on Memorial, Fourth of July or Labor Day weekends...Is it a complete zoo?

+Is there a lakeshore homweowners association?

+How many fishing tournaments are held on the lake

+Get a copy of the county tax roll so you know what the taxes will be once you build

I hope this helps.

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Take the boat out from shore. Are there a lots of rocks that you have to navigate around to get into your dock (estimate where you will put it). Also if the lake has a very gradual slope and water levels go down in late summer, will you need a 300' dock to get out in enough water to tie up your boat?

This is a minor item, but can you catch fish from your prospective shore/dock?

We are on Vermilion which has thousands of good fishing areas but the only thing we can catch from our docks are tiny perch and rock bass. I would give anything to have a location where you can catch walleyes or other gamefish off the dock.

Steve

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Good point deadsea... our dock is 32' long and about 6-7' deep at the end, so nice drop. I could even beech the boat/pontoon and not really raise the motor, which is nice. Our lake is a bit low right now and some folks down the way are having a hard time getting boats on/off of their lifts.

And if there are little kids involved being able to catch fish off the dock is really nice. We have sunnies around constantly (they feed them bread in the mornings), and regularly catch smallies and largemouth mixed in with the sunnies. Seeing a 7 year old tangle with a 16" smallie on a dock, with a Snoopy pole, is priceless smile

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Thanks for the input guys. I definitely didnt think of some of those things. We are looking at a property this weekend. It appears it has a weedy shoreline. I am not quite sure about this. Do any of you have a weedy shoreline?

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Our Lake has a ton of wild rice that we have to navigate to get to our property. We are also on a river system so in the spring the water is high and low in the fall. It was a good deal so for now we with live with what we have.

When you look at some properties this weekend check your drainage, ie: where the water from the property flows. If the lot is wooded, what kind of access to the lake do you have.

We had a goat path thru the woods to the lake, now I can haul my 2 place trailer down to the lake, 800'.

What area did you say you were looking in???

Mike

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Also, just because it is weedy does not necessarily mean it is bad. It is the type of weeds and the quantity. I.e. you can and are (usually) legally allowed to make a path through weeds for dock and boat access and also a beech area. So the big thing is how mucky or sandy the bottom is. You will want to get out there and walk it a bit to see if or how far you sink.

We have lily pads right next to where we p-ark the pontoon and then again the other side of swimming area. I like them. Our bottom is pretty hard sand though, most of the lake is sand. Lots of weeds off the end of the dock, probably why the fishing is so good off the dock.

Key thing is keeping most of your shoreline as natural as can be, but you can (and I feel should) make sure you have a bit of activity/swim area. You for sure must not affect 50% of the shoreline, but only up to 50 feet.

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Itasca county you can clear 15'wide through the weeds to access the shoreland. It might vary by County.

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We are looking at a place in Itasca County this weekend. But arent really looking in any certain area in particular.

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Just remember if the weeds are emergent (above the surface like bullrushes or cattails) you need a DNR permit to pull ANY weeds. The weeds below the surface you can clear "X" amount without any permits.

The lakeshore we bought was raw land. We still don't have electricity or water but we have a genny and a shower shed to collect rainwater to use for bathing. Our neighbors have good wells so we are assuming we will not have a problem if/when we build a house there.

Good luck and enjoy the process.

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weeds are good. please keep them! you'll have a much healthier lakeshore, more fish, wildlife, etc.

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I think the main concern is the lakeshore and lot. Gradual slope or steep. Hard bottom or mucky bottom. If you have kids and like to swim, you don't want weeds. Also, some weeds can stink in mid july. Depth of water. You most likely will not find all the qualities you want, so pick your top priorties and go from there. The more money you spend, more quality you will get. Good luck and it will be one of your best investments ever!

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One other thing that I should mention. Neighbors that live on the lake year round are like having a built in security system. They can keep an eye on the place when you are not there, let you know if there is an extended power outage (freezer isssues) and if you give them a key, turn the heat on for you before you come up on a winter weekend.

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I agree with Walleye Guy, provided they pass the pre-purchase interview.

Neighbors can be your best friend or worst enemy. Alert=good, Nosey=bad. Get to know them pretty well before you determine if they can be trusted to watch your place.

Steve

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Do you have someone looking for you? Do you have representation?

A knowlegable Realtor can provide everything you need answers to. In this case you will get your moneys worth especially when the seller pays his/her commission.

I would not set myself up for dual representation. If you call the name on the sign, do it for information purposes only.

Make sure you have someone looking out for your best interests... not thier clients and yours!

Good Luck in your search... Its a Buyers market!

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Huntingidlife,

How did your search go?

It was unbeleivably nice up there Saturday.

I was working on the dock and had tons of ducks flying and landing everywhere. Later, had a fire and saw about a dozen deer feeding out in the fields.

Mike

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Hope it went well for you. A couple of additional things:

- Tough to see how weedy this property may be when it's April. Do the neighbors have any pictures of mid summer shoreline? Our property has lots of lilipads and other submerged weeds. Makes fishing pretty good, but we don't swim much right off the dock.

- Access to utilities? Probably don't need telephone if you get cell coverage. Electric is a must. Are the newer septic systems around you mound style? These cost more because they need to bring in lots of fill.

- Are you the type that can rough it for awhile? We bought raw lakeshore also and it took almost 2 years before it became easy. Putting in driveway, clearing some spots, planting trees in others, installing electric, well, septic. Buy camper, Add deck to camper, add storage shed, clear small path to lake, dock installation. List goes on and on. Really fun, but a lot of work in the beginning.

Good luck!

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Don't rule out places with a cabin already on them there can be some real bargains. We were looking for a lot when we found our place. I was driving down a dead end road near a resort we were staying at when I saw it. It was a house on the lake we wanted, the house was built in the mid 70's with a three stall garage. The grass hadn't been mowed in a couple years, the trees badly needed trimming along with a few down trees, a retaining wall was collapsed, there was garbage and junk everywhere. After one weekend with myself and two college kids it was amazing the difference. After this we painted and put in new carpet and I was still under what I would have paid for the lot. The house was full of cobwebs and had I bad smell to it, but that cleared up when we tore out the carpets and threw out the fridge that had food in it since the previous owner died a few years earlier. Opening that fridge was not for the faint of heart. At least the fridge/freezer had been running for the years the house sat empty. It was a lot of hard work but it made a year round lake home fit our budget so I feel lucky. Good luck.

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Well we checked out the property. For the most part is was good except for the neighbors. I wouldnt feel comfortable leaving my vehicle parked there overnight. We stopped by a few other places on the way home and plan on looking at a few more this weekend. Thanks for all the suggestions.

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