Whether you’re acquiring a plot of land for a self-build, land development project for commercial or residential properties, farming, or as a long-term investment in a high-value area, purchasing land for sale carries multiple benefits. For example, with no property on the site to deal with, potential issues with foundations, electricals and plumbing are entirely eliminated, and providing the site isn’t in a volatile area, the land shouldn’t depreciate even if you don’t do anything with it for a prolonged period of time.

For anyone that hasn’t bought land before, the process may seem overly complicated, and even the task of finding land to buy could look like a completely different language. However, in many cases, the land buying process is distinctly simpler than purchasing a property and finding land for sale is relatively easy as long as you know where to look and what you’re looking for.

In an effort to help anyone that is currently considering buying land, this guide will provide expert guidance, as well as covering key factors in the process.

How to find land for sale

When it comes to the first step of targeting plots of land for sale that you could consider buying, it can be difficult to know where to start your search. Prior to looking for suitable plots of land, it is important that you set out your specifications clearly, primarily gauging the size, location and purpose.

Below, we offer advice on identifying cheap land for sale and list questions you will need to ask as you make the final decision.

How to find cheap land for sale

If you plan to buy land with the intention of making a clever investment and turning a profit months or possibly even years later, it would be fair to assume that finding cheap land that holds value or the potential to grow in value would be your top priority.

As a starting point, it would be advisable to identify the area you want to buy land in. You can then speak to estate agents and the corresponding local council, registering your interest in any available plots of land now or in the future. By doing this, you can hopefully beat other people to desirable plots of land. Another method would be through attending auctions and attempting to obtain a plot of land that is being sold cheaply.

Alternatively, you could actively invest in land that is situated in an area with a low average plot price. But as it would be unlikely to significantly grow in value, it could be more worthwhile to invest in an area that holds a higher projected value.

Investing in cheap land can produce an opportunity to turn a profit. However, it is important that you are aware of the potential shortfalls. For instance, the price of the plot of land will be based on location, size, potential and classification, as well as the type of land. As such, if you are buying land for building commercial or residential properties – or with the intention of selling it on so other people can utilise the land for these purposes – it will be more expensive than agricultural land. Likewise, the process of preparing the land for building commercial or residential properties could be costly and time-consuming, creating a hindrance for yourself or whoever buys the land from you.

How to find out if land is for sale

Although rare, some people buy land after coming across a suitable plot and enquiring about its availability. In some circumstances, it may be acceptable to speak to the owner of the land directly or simply find it by searching on the internet. However, if these methods aren’t possible or you don’t feel comfortable approaching the land owner informally, you can check the HM Land Registry. Since 1993, the registry has held the details of the majority of plots of land and properties sold in England and Wales, enabling would-be landowners to see the current status of land they are considering investing in.

Where to search for land for sale

More commonly, people that are looking to buy land aren’t sure of the plot they want to purchase. But while it has often been difficult to search for available land, you can actually look through every current listing in specific areas on the Addland website.

Simply enter in the ideal location and the minimum and maximum price and size, and you can see all of the rural and development plots in those areas. The results are then displayed in an accurate map of the UK, allowing you to see exactly where available plots of land are and broaden your search if there aren’t any in the chosen area.

A map with available plots of land highlighted
It could be beneficial to physically pinpoint available plots of land on a map, emphasising your options.

What questions to ask when buying land

Newcomers to buying land are likely to be unaware of the types of questions to ask both themselves and the person they’re buying the land from.

In terms of the questions you ask yourself, it is crucial that you outline what exactly you want the land for and what sort of land you require before searching for suitable plots. When you reach a point where you are speaking to the current landowner of a desirable plot, you should keep several core questions in your mind to avoid problems further down the line.

Questions to ask the current landowner:

  • Are septic tanks or wells present on the land?
  • Are there any existing issues with the land?
  • Is planning permission in place?
  • If planning permission is in place, is it outline consent or detailed planning permission?
  • Is the land connected to electricity, sewerage and water?
  • What are the access rights?
  • What are the conditions of the ground?
  • Why is the owner looking to sell the land?

Types of land for sale

It may be a factor you overlook, but the importance of understanding the different types of land cannot be stressed enough. Depending on your reason for buying land, the type of land will play a key role in the decision-making process. Choosing the incorrect type of land, however, would likely cause lengthy delays or potentially ruin your entire project, possibly even causing you to sell your new plot and reinvest in a more suitable one.

Consisting of a mix of terms used by auctioneers, estate agents, land developers, surveyors and professionals in certain industries, different types of land include:

Agricultural land

Formed from arable land, pasture land and crops, agricultural land is designed to produce natural resources and house livestock. Aside from any developments that are relevant to agricultural processes, this type of land is devoted to farmland and rarely undergoes a transformation into another form of land.

Brownfield land

Often applicable to plots of land that are contaminated through previously being used for commercial or industrial purposes, brownfield land is an area that was once developed but is now unused. Although any contaminants would need to be eradicated from the site, brownfield land is usually cheaper to buy and – as developing the land would benefit the environment – it can be easier to gain planning permission than on a greenfield site.

Contaminated land

When evidence of hazardous substances is found on brownfield land, it is then more accurately recognised as contaminated land. Contaminants may include asbestos, chemicals, gases, oil, radioactive substances, solvents, tar and certain metals. As with brownfield land, the process of removing all hazardous substances from contaminated land could be difficult, but it may be easier to receive planning permission as it would lead to an improved state of biodiversity.

Green belt land

Usually situated on the outskirts of towns and cities, green belt land is a section of countryside that acts as a buffer between urban areas. It is protected from development projects, allowing it to remain preserved and prevent all rural areas from being replaced by urban features. Due to it serving as a border around cities and towns, building on green belt land is often forbidden. However, there may be exceptions if it is intended for agriculture or recreational activities.

Greenfield land

Present in both rural and urban areas, greenfield land is any area that hasn’t previously been developed and therefore has no existing infrastructure. It holds a mix of advantages and disadvantages. For example, the lack of previous developments means that greenfield land requires less clearance and fewer changes, making the process cheaper and easier. However, the local planning authority may be less inclined to accept a planning permission application as it would negatively impact biodiversity.

Strategic land

Although not necessarily a widely known term, strategic land is a type of land that could be valuable now or in the future. If it is near to an already developed area, an area that is set to undergo a significant development, useful features such as motorways, or popular attractions, for example, it could be a shrewd and profitable plot of land for developers. Likewise, a piece of land could be used to link two areas together, or it may reduce the developer’s costs to increase profit margins as a result of being cheaper or easier to build on or gain planning permission.

Two land developers gauging the required changes on a plot of land.
Failing to assess the type of land you’re working with could impact the cost and time of your project.

Process of buying land

Even if you have managed to find the ideal piece of land for your project, the process of buying it can be complicated, especially if it is something you haven’t done before. In an effort to help anyone that is new to buying land, the below section explains each step in thorough detail.

Land financing

One of the concerning factors for anyone that is new to buying land is how the purchase is financed and whether the process differs to that of getting a mortgage on an existing property. In place of a normal mortgage, you will need a land mortgage, and it does pose potential issues as, unlike a mortgage for a property, there won’t be a physical building to act as collateral.

Factors to consider before applying for a land mortgage

Prior to applying for a land mortgage, you will need to account for a handful of core considerations. Firstly, you should outline what the land purchase will entail by organising a professional survey. You can then use the surveyor’s report to inform the lender about boundaries, the situation in regards to electricity, sewerage and water, and other details such as potential restrictions and zoning.

At this point, it would be advisable to get in touch with the local planning department and enquire about any nearby developments planned for the future. If, for instance, a new residential estate, motorway or park were set to be built down the street in the next few years, it could affect the value of your land or compromise your plans.

Another important consideration would be the intended purpose of the land and whether it could impact the cost of the land mortgage. As the purpose of the land affects the bank’s risk exposure, the deposit and interest rates will alter, making the land mortgage more expensive. For example, if a plot of land already had a building present, that would be perceived as tangible collateral. However, if the plot of land only has a proposed construction, there are many different variables that could delay or entirely ruin the process of building properties, making the lender far less confident. Therefore, a speculative investment on a plot of land with no specific plans for development would give the lender the least amount of confidence as there would be no collateral whatsoever.

Although it wouldn’t be impossible to have a land mortgage application accepted for any of these three situations, the cost would be far greater, with the minimum deposit for a land mortgage set at around 30%. The deposit amount could also be significantly higher depending on the size of land and type of mortgage, and not all lenders offer land mortgages so you may be limited with who you can turn to.

Land mortgage financing options –

In the UK, there are several options for land mortgages, with each option based on the intended purpose of the plot of land. Land mortgage types include:

Agricultural mortgage – for farming or land intended for keeping animals or growing produce

Commercial mortgage – for all forms of commercial development, including residential housing, shops or other commercial properties

Self-build mortgage – for projects that involve the development of a new property on a plot of land that is currently empty

Woodland mortgage – for land that is being used as a private sanctuary or a long-term investment

Stamp duty on land

As with buying a property, you are usually required to pay stamp duty when you purchase plots of land. In England and Northern Ireland, it is known as stamp duty land tax (SDLT), but in Scotland and Wales, it is better known as ‘land and buildings transaction tax’ (LBTT) and ‘land transaction tax’ (LTT).

A tax on the piece of land based on the price of purchase, the latest rates came into power on 1st October 2021, with different parameters based on the price and purpose of the land:

Residential land

Up to £125,000 – 0%

Between £125,001 and £250,000 – 2%

Between £250,001 and £925,000 – 5%

Between £925,001 and £1,500,000 – 10%

Over £1,500,000 – 12%

Non-residential land

Up to £150,000 – 0%

Between £150,001 and £250,000 – 2%

Over £250,000 – 5%

Companies and non-natural persons (NNP)

Over £500,000 – 15%

First-time buyers are also entitled to a stamp duty exemption on their first property or land purchase. In England and Northern Ireland, providing the property costs less than £500,000 in total, stamp duty isn’t required on the first £300,000. However, it is different in other UK nations, with an exemption of £175,000 in Scotland and £180,000 in Wales.

What is land surveying?

Often conducted prior to a development, land surveying is the process of mapping out the shape and boundaries on a plot of land. Using specialist equipment, a qualified surveyor will come to the site and run a series of tests on the land. While there are different types of land survey, a topographical survey would be advisable as it is more extensive and uncovers details of natural and man-made features on the site.

A mortgage adviser helping a land developer with financing their land purchase.
You should ensure that all costs for buying land are covered including the price of financing and stamp duty.

Land for sale near me

Assuming you’ve covered all of the factors listed above, you should be in a position where you can begin to look for available plots of land. As previously mentioned, if you want to find land for sale in your area or any other specific area you have pinpointed, you can do this by using the Addlands land search feature.

If you have already acquired a plot of land and want to book a topographical survey or another applicable survey such as a tree survey or protected species survey, contact us and we will give you a free quote based on the size of your land and development, and the types of surveys you need.