What's out there?
Of course, actually finding the lot can be an adventure, especially in an already overly-developed area.
The first great place to look for a piece of land for your custom home is online. There are multiple websites, like http://www.landwatch.com, http://www.land.net/, and http://www.realtor.com, where you can easily search current land listing during your spare time. Many are set up so you can see what's available in certain cities, zip-codes, counties, or even state!
The important thing is to not get attached to a lot that you see online. Many times, these sites can be behind in their updates and that piece of land could already be gone. Also, the picture they show may not accurately depict what you find out there in the real world when you walk the property.
Another great way to find your lot is to drive around and see what's out there. Is there a certain neighborhood or area you want to live in? Head on over there and drive around one Sunday afternoon. Take down addresses of lots that sit empty, even if there is no "For Sale" sign.
A search of property titles (done by you or your agent) can tell you who owns it and if it's up for sale. You can even approach the current owners and see if they're interested in selling. It never hurts to ask, right?
Don't forget about lots that have existing homes or structures on them. These buildings can always be torn down. This is a great way to get a brand-new home in an established neighborhood, which is very important to some people.
Another source for available lots is a real estate agent….
Finding a Real Estate Agent
Even if you're lucky enough to find the perfect lot yourself, there will be a time when bringing a real estate agent into the fold could save you time and money in the long run. Not only are real estate agents are key when it comes to negotiation and transaction management, but their knowledge could stop you from making a horrible mistake, like buy land that is zoned for commercial only.
Of course, finding a real estate agent willing to take on a land deal could be a nightmare in itself. Between the fact that land doesn't carry as much commission as a house and that finding the right land can take a long time, many real estate agents aren't willing to take on the job. As such, you will more than likely have to work with an agent that handles all areas of real estate.
No matter who you pick, it's important that your agent understands the issues associated with planning and building a new home. There are budgetary and zoning concerns to deal with, not to mention ensuring that you don't out price the neighbors with your expensive home, making resell for everyone difficult.
The best way to do that is ask the agent some basic questions about building in the area you're looking at. If they blow you off or you feel you know more than they do, it's probably a good idea to find someone else.
As you can see, finding the right piece of land for your custom home can be an ordeal in itself, but with the right tools and perseverance, you too can succeed!