If you've found a home you love but it's next to an empty lot, you might not be sure how to proceed. The vacant lot won't be your property, but since it's so close and can affect your life in several ways, it's important to put some thought into this decision before you officially make an offer. Here are three things to consider before buying a home next to an open lot.
How is the lot zoned?
You may not want to buy the house and then have a factory or large store pop up next to you the next year. On the other hand, having another home built next to you might be nice! Contact the local zoning office, and ask how the lot next to you is zoned. If it's residential, you can proceed with confidence that if someone builds on the lot, they'll just be building a home. If it's zoned commercial or industrial, you'll have to decide whether you're willing to potentially live next to a factory, store, restaurant, or other business in the coming years.
Why is the lot vacant?
Ask your realtor if they know the history of the vacant lot. If they don't know how it became vacant, you can try asking some of the neighbors who have lived in the area for a while. If the lot is just vacant because the home that was on it was demolished because it got run down, then there's no real cause for concern. But if you find out something more sinister, like high radon levels or polluted groundwater, drove the owners to remove the old home, that should cause some hesitation on your part. Make sure the property you're considering buying is not prone to the same issues.
You should ask why your realtor and the neighbors think nobody has built on the lot yet. If they say something like "the sand here makes foundations shift" or "home values are too low for it to be worth it," you may want to second-guess your interest in the home.
Does the lot present any hazards?
This is an especially important factor to consider if you have kids or pets who may wander into the empty lot. If it's overrun by weeds, riddled with rubble, or pitted with uneven ground, it might present a hazard that you're best off avoiding. You could try contacting the town to request that the owners fence in the lot to protect passersby from the hazardous conditions, but there's no guarantee that this will work.