Whether you’re acquiring a plot of land for a self-build project to construct your own house from scratch, 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. Also, unlike purchasing a pre-made building, you wouldn’t have to deal with making changes to existing infrastructure if the property type isn’t fit for purpose.
For anyone that hasn’t bought land before, the process may seem overly complicated, and even the task of searching for land to buy could look like a completely different language. Even at this point, you may be wondering if the process of finding an opportunity to acquire land would be done using an estate agents or whether it takes a completely different approach. The good news is that, in many circumstances, 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.
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How to find land for sale
When it comes to the first step of targeting rural 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. For example, a primary consideration would be to gauge the size, location and purpose of the plot of land you’re searching for.
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 in 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 would like 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 rendezvous with estate agents and council members that oversee the area you’re looking to buy land in, increasing your chances of beating other people to desirable plots of land for building new homes or staging other valuable developments. Another method would be through attending an auction 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. With the location naturally playing a role in the decision making process, the range of price based on the area can be severely impacted, with the guide price range of specific areas of North, West, East and South England varying distinctly. But as it would be unlikely for sites in areas with a consistently low price range to significantly grow in value, it could be more worthwhile to invest in an area that holds a higher projected value and use the site as the basis for your development project.
Even if it isn’t necessarily the area you would have chosen based on your original price range, if the previously rural piece of land was turned into a set of new homes, such as rented or mortgaged detached, semi-detached or terrace residential properties, for example, it could be a sensible investment due to the ongoing interest in the area.
Investing in cheap land can produce an opportunity to acquire land to turn a profit. However, it is important that you are aware of the potential shortfalls. For instance, the guide 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 via an estate agents 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, whoever buys the land from you or, if you decide to sell the land through an estate agents, whichever company or website you opt for.
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 within 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 would like to purchase. But while it has often been difficult to search for available land – particularly as not all estate agents provide land listings – you can actually look through every current listing within specific areas on the Addland website.
Simply enter in the ideal location and the minimum and maximum price range and size, and you can see all of the rural and development plots within 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 using specific filters if there aren’t any within the chosen area.
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 would like 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?
- Are you selling through an estate agents or independently?
- If any existing infrastructure is on the plot, what property type is it?
- Is there a specific guide price on 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. The same could be said for choosing the correct property type. If you were looking at new homes as part of a private development project but opted for a farm due to an appetising guide price, for example, you may think that paying the min price has led to you sealing a bargain. However, as you would need to make alterations to transform it from a farm into a residential property, the overall price of the development could end up being far higher.
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 within certain industries, different types of land include:
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 in rural areas. Due to the land being designed for farms and other agricultural uses, it rarely undergoes a transformation into another form of 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.
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 new homes or commercial properties on green belt land is often forbidden. However, there may be exceptions if it is intended for agriculture or recreational activities.
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.
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 developed or added to as a way of linking 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.
Process of buying land
Even if you have managed to find an opportunity to acquire the ideal piece of land for your development project, the process of buying it can be complicated, especially if it is something you haven’t done before. For anyone that has registered a mortgage on a residential property in the past, the confusion and stress that naturally arises through dealing with the seller of the property you are looking to buy, the buyer of your current property and both estate agents and the bank can be overwhelming. Although similar in many ways, the process of buying land is different to applying for a mortgage on an existing property type.
In an effort to help anyone that is new to buying land, the below section explains each step in thorough detail.
One of the concerning factors for anyone that is new to buying land is how the purchase is financed and whether the process differs from 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 set of new homes within a 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 and how much it’s worth 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 farms or other forms of rural land that are utilised 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 – often for residential use on a self-built house or commercial use on a private company building – on a plot of land that is currently empty
Woodland mortgage – for rural land that is being used as a private sanctuary or a long-term investment
Stamp duty on land
As with buying a property such as a house for solely private use, 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).
An added 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 or property type:
Up to a max price of £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 a min price of £1,500,000 – 12%
Up to a max price of £150,000 – 0%
Between £150,001 and £250,000 – 2%
Over a min price of £250,000 – 5%
Companies and non-natural persons (NNP)
Over a min price of £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 they are looking for 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.
Land for sale
Assuming you’ve covered all of the factors listed above, you should be in a position where you can begin to search for available plots of land in certain locations across the country. You may decide to do this in person, online or using an estate agents that offer the flexibility to identify available plots of land as easily as you might target new homes or commercial properties. However, as it’s rare that estate agents will offer this feature, you may be required to refer to businesses that specialise in buying and selling land.
Location is an important factor when it comes to buying land, as the country, region, county, town and even general area could vastly alter the guide price. Due to this, the parameters for buying land could be impacted in the same sense that they would for buying an existing property type. As a result, the estate agents, independent landowners or selling companies could ask for a distinctly lower min price or a potentially unattainable max price based on the specific location.
In the section below, we offer details of different sections of land for sale based on broad locations across the UK. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are included, with information on the average cost and size of land determined by each region within the listed locations.
Land for sale in England
Average cost of land – £8,564 per acre
Land sizes by region:
North West – 14,165 km2
North East – 8,592 km2
Yorkshire and the Humber – 15,420 km2
West Midlands – 12,998 km2
East Midlands – 15,627 km2
London – 1,572 km2
South West – 23,837 km2
South East – 19,096 km2
Land for sale in Scotland
Average cost of land – £4,271 per acre
Land sizes by region:
Highlands and Islands – 38,081.8 km2
Aberdeen and North East Scotland – 8,736.7 km2
Tayside, Central and Fife – 16,223.23 km2
Glasgow and Strathclyde – 6,715.5 km2
Edinburgh and Lothians – 1,724 km2
Scotland South – 11,159 km2
Land for sale in Wales
Average cost of land – £8,546 per acre
Land sizes by county:
Clwyd – 2,910 km2
Dyfed – 5,780 km2
Gwent – 1,553 km2
Gwynedd – 3,262 km2
Mid Glamorgan – 781 km2
West Glamorgan – 820 km2
South Glamorgan – 475 km2
Powys – 5,196 km2
Land for sale in Northern Ireland
Average cost of land – £9,200 per acre
Land sizes by county:
Antrim – 3,086 km2
Armagh – 1,327 km2
Down – 2,489 km2
Fermanagh – 1,691 km2
Londonderry – 2,118 km2
Tyrone – 3,266 km2
Land for sale near me
Depending on the specific development project you are planning, the cost and availability of the desirable plot of land will vary based on size and location. As previously mentioned, if you want help to find land for sale in your area or any other specific area you have pinpointed in a clear and concise way, you can do this by using the Addlands land search feature and applying the relevant filters. You can then identify suitable plots of land based on your own min price, max price and the location of your choice.
Whether you are early in the process of finding a suitable plot of land, or even if you have already acquired a plot of land, it is likely that you will need to arrange professional assessments to progress to future stages of your project. If you would like 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.