top of page

Potential Risks of Buying Vacant Land

Updated: Apr 22

Potential Risks of Buying Vacant Land

Investing in real estate can be a lucrative endeavor, but it is not without its risks. Let's consider vacant land as an example - it holds great potential, but conducting thorough research is essential. Failing to do so may lead to unforeseen challenges such as zoning restrictions or limited access. Before making any commitments, equip yourself with the necessary information and fully comprehend the associated risks.

Risks of Buying Vacant Commercial Land

Commercial land refers to properties that are intended for business use, such as retail stores, office buildings, or industrial spaces. Purchasing vacant commercial land can be a high-risk investment due to its unique characteristics and potential challenges.

  • Zoning Restrictions: Unlike residential land which is typically zoned for housing, commercial land has stricter zoning regulations. This means that the purpose and usage of the land must comply with specific ordinances and codes. In some cases, it is possible to rezone a property - you can work with the local zoning office to do so, but this will come with an added expense.

  • Environmental Concerns: Vacant commercial land can be contaminated due to previous industrial, commercial, or agricultural activities. Additionally, if any part of the land is considered protected through a conservation easement, for example, you may not be able to develop the land. If there are any creeks, streams or other waterways, zoning and planning boards may not let you reroute them. Finally, if any protected wildlife resides on the property, you may not be allowed to displace those animals by developing it.

  • Market Volatility: The value of vacant commercial land is heavily influenced by market conditions and trends. Economic downturns or changes in industry demand can significantly affect the price and potential profitability of the land.

Risks of Buying Vacant Rural Land

Rural land refers to properties located in sparsely populated areas, such as farmland or recreational land. Undeveloped land is often seen as having great appreciation value due to limited supply and growing demand. There are many opportunities for undeveloped land including recreation (hunting and fishing), farming and agriculture, leasing for solar farms, and leasing for wind farms.

While it may seem like a peaceful and potentially profitable investment, there are several risks associated with buying vacant rural land.

  • Limited Utilities: Unlike urban or suburban areas, rural land may not have access to public utilities such as water, electricity, or sewage systems. This can be costly to install and maintain, making the land less desirable for development or resale.

  • Environmental Factors: Rural areas may be prone to natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, or earthquakes. It is crucial to research the history of the land and any potential environmental hazards before making a purchase.

  • Lack of Zoning Regulations: In some rural areas, there may be limited or no zoning regulations in place. This can lead to unexpected developments or changes in the surrounding area, affecting property values and potentially causing conflicts with neighboring landowners.

  • Maintenance Costs: Owning vacant rural land requires regular maintenance, such as mowing grass, clearing debris, and maintaining fences. These costs can add up over time and should be considered when calculating the potential profitability of the investment.

  • Accessibility: Limited road access or difficult terrain can make it challenging to develop or use the land as intended. Utility accessibility is a vital consideration for any development project. The availability of water, sewer, and electricity plays a crucial role in its success. Although it is feasible to bring these utilities to the site, it usually comes at a significant cost, and easements with neighboring properties must also be considered.

Data to Analyze Land Opportunities

Whether you need to visualize undeveloped land or map out your natural resources, LandApp is designed to be easy to use and affordable for every type of user. Easily apply multiple layers of data together on a single map to include buildable acreage, exclusion zones (such as floodplains and protected areas), parcel information, resource lease estimates, soil types, and more.

Landowners can receive a free property report with the same information about their parcels. Learn about your land's potential by getting your free property report today:


bottom of page