10 Things to Know Before Buying a Vacant Lot

Ordinances and Covenants

Land destined to be built on or sold is typically carved up into smaller parcels that make up subdivisions. The land in a subdivision likely already has some restrictions placed upon it that you'll want to know about before buying. If the vacant lot you're eying is in the middle of an already developed community, chances are good that a homeowner's association governs that area. Homeowner's associations command membership fees and set the rules for behavior and decorum in the area. Following their rules could dictate how frequently you cut your grass, where you park your car or even what kind of pets you have [source: Wisegeek].

On a more general level, subdivisions will have covenants in place that lay down specific rules for the use of the property in question. These covenants, or deed restrictions, are private agreements between the landowner and the buyer, which is what separates them from the zoning restrictions we covered last page [source: Lex-Co.com]. Within city limits, you may also be held to city ordinances that govern certain behaviors or land uses, such as the way you handle garbage removal [source: Wisegeek].

All those restrictions may sound like a real headache. They can be -- but they can also be a blessing. After all, the rules apply to everyone else, too. If you find a piece of land you like with covenants you can live with, you'll know everyone else in the area is bound to the same standards.