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How to Research Land

Updated: May 6

Photograph of a mountain landscape with an orange sunset in the background with a text overlay 'How to Research Land'

Researching land effectively is a multi-step process that demands careful consideration and thorough investigation. Whether you'd like to learn more about land that you currently own, land that you're interested in purchasing, or just want to learn who owns land, conducting land research using reliable tools can provide you with a wealth of valuable information. In this guide, we will discuss the key steps involved in conducting land research and provide tips for maximizing your results.

Getting Started

Before starting your land research, it's important to define your goals. This will help you focus on the specific information you need and avoid getting overwhelmed by irrelevant data. Some common goals for researching land include:

  • Determining ownership of a piece of land

  • Identifying any restrictions or zoning regulations that may apply to the land

  • Gathering information on past and current land use

  • Assessing the value of the land for purchase, sale, or development purposes

Once you have identified your goals, it's time to gather the necessary resources. This includes maps, surveys, property records, and other documents that may contain relevant information about the land. These resources can be obtained from local government offices, online databases, subscription-based applications, or through professional surveyors and title companies.

How to Research Land

To begin your land research, start by identifying the specific parcel of land you're interested in. Utilizing LandApp's comprehensive search functionality can simplify this step, allowing users to search for any property in the country by address, parcel ID, or owner name. Once the parcel is identified using a property finder, LandApp provides access to an array of critical data points, including:

  • Zoning Information: Understand how the land can be used and what regulations may affect future development. Zoning regulations dictate how a particular piece of land can be used, such as for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes. It's important to review these regulations carefully, as they can significantly impact the potential use and value of the land.

  • Topography and Environmental Constraints: Detailed topographic information and any environmental restrictions that might impact land use, such as flood zones or protected habitats.

  • Access and Utilities: Insights into the availability of essential utilities and access roads, which are crucial for development planning.

  • Historical Ownership and Transaction Records: A historical overview of land ownership and any transactions that have taken place, offering a glimpse into the land's history and potential legal complications. By conducting thorough land research and equipping yourself with LandApp, you are better positioned to make informed decisions, whether you’re considering purchasing land, planning development projects, trying to learn more about your property, or simply conducting due diligence.

How to Research Land History

When it comes to researching the history a property, the local county assessor can provide you with extensive records outlining previous ownership information. Most of the time, the county assessor's office will have records for fifty to seventy five years back in time. After that point, the records can likely be found in the State Archives or Historical Society. Local libraries can also be helpful when researching a property's history!

How to Research Land Ownership

Knowing who owns a particular piece of land is often a primary reason for conducting land research. This information can usually be found through public records at the county recorder's office or through online databases. In some cases, you may need to hire a professional title company to conduct a thorough search and provide a detailed report on the property's ownership history.

The implications of land ownership extend to far more than just property lines. Understanding who owns land can provide insights into potential development plans, future zoning changes, and any liens or legal issues that may be associated with the property.

LandApp provides up-to-date nationwide property ownership information. Interested in finding out who owns land? Learn who owns land near you and anywhere in the country by subscribing to LandApp for just $10 per month when billed annually, or $16 per month when billed monthly.

How to Research Land Values

In addition to understanding land use and ownership, researching land can also help you determine its value. This is especially important if you're considering purchasing or selling the land. Several factors can impact the value of land, including location, accessibility, topography, and potential for development. It's important to research comparable properties in the area to get an idea of the market value and consult with a licensed appraiser or real estate agent for a professional assessment.

There are many ways to determine the value of land. One of the most common methods for determining the value of land is to use the sales comparison approach, which involves analyzing recent sales of similar properties in the area to determine the market value of the property. Although this information can also be obtained from the local county assessor's office, this process can be time-consuming.

There are also many different factors that affect the value of land. A property's location, accessibility, type of land, land usage, zoning, acreage, access to amenities, and more all play a role. LandApp provides land value estimates for sale and for lease within the Property Reports tool. You can leverage LandApp's proprietary value and risk indexes for any U.S. property to quickly evaluate its estimated value compared to state and county averages:

Screenshot of LandApp's value indexes

Additionally, each listing on LandGate's marketplace is embedded with these unique value and risk indexes to help you easily evaluate a property's highest and best use.

How to Find Property Boundaries

Property lines describe the legally recognized boundaries of your property, providing an exact definition of land ownership that shows exactly where ownership of one plot of land starts and ends.  Although the most accurate property line information should be obtained from your local county assessor's office, LandApp's map-based platform offers general property boundary information that can be used for reference.

Utilize GIS Data for Land Research

GIS software has become an essential tool for landowners and real estate professionals alike, providing valuable insights and data for property analysis, market research, and decision-making. GIS is critical for valuing land, identifying potential risks, conducting due diligence, and more. Here are some ways GIS is used in the real estate industry:

  • Site Selection and Analysis: GIS allows users to evaluate the viability of a site by overlaying various data layers such as amenities, traffic patterns, and existing land use. This helps in identifying the best locations for new developments or investments based on specific criteria.

  • Risk Assessment: By providing detailed information on flood zones, fire hazards, and other environmental risks, GIS helps in assessing the potential risks associated with a piece of property. This is crucial for making informed decisions, planning mitigation strategies, and valuing land.

  • Market Analysis and Trends: Utilizing GIS for market analysis enables real estate professionals to identify trends in property values, property development, and demographic shifts. This data is invaluable for predicting future market movements and for strategic planning.

  • Regulatory Compliance: GIS data can assist in ensuring developments comply with zoning laws, environmental regulations, and other legal requirements. There are many different types of zones, and it is important to understand and remain in compliance with zoning laws. GIS zoning data maps out protected areas, zoning districts, and overlays specific regulations affecting the land, streamlining the approval process for new projects.

  • Property analysis and valuation: By combining GIS data with property information, real estate professionals can accurately assess the value of a property based on its location, surrounding amenities, and other factors. Historical land sale data is a crucial data point for land valuations, as it allows realtors to help their clients set asking prices and determine an appropriate budget for their purchasing needs.

GIS technology has revolutionized the way land and properties are researched, evaluated, and managed. By harnessing the power of GIS, individuals and businesses can gain a competitive edge in the real estate market, making data-driven decisions that align with their strategic goals. GIS data provided within LandApp includes power grid maps, elevation & topography data, soil maps, floodplain maps, tree data, oil and gas well maps, and more to give you a complete view into any property and its potential.

Explore Nationwide Land, Property & Location Data

LandApp is the best land guide and land mapping tool to explore and interact with property data from your browser or phone. Everything has a location, and every location relates to a piece of land- with property boundaries, ownership, land use, and more. Get started now to better understand the land near you and land anywhere in the country:


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