Buying a Vacant Lot During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Royal Homes Buying a Vacant Lot During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Royal Homes
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Buying a Vacant Lot During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Planning Your Lot & Home


Let’s face it: the pandemic continues to be a defining factor in every part of Ontario’s housing market, from buying and selling to building a house from scratch.

We’ve already covered how the home building process is different in these times. But let’s back up a little: what if you’re in the market for an empty lot?

Well, we have good news for you. Although the process for buying a house has changed dramatically during the pandemic, the process for buying land is essentially the same ‒ you’ll just need a bit more ingenuity, patience, and persistence to pull it off!

Here’s what you can expect when it comes to buying a vacant lot during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Is Now a Good Time to Buy Land?
  2. Searching for the Perfect Lot
  3. Visiting a Potential Property
  4. Adding up the Costs
  5. Finding a Home Builder During COVID-19

1. Is Now a Good Time to Buy Land?

Buy land, build a home, save money. Simple, right?

These days, buying an empty lot and starting from scratch is by far the best way to escape to the country. Not only does it save you the endless open houses and tiresome bidding wars, but you’re guaranteed to get exactly the home or cottage you’ve been dreaming of.

That said, it’s imperative that you do your homework before purchasing a vacant lot. A property may look perfect on paper, but the devil’s in the details!

As an example, let’s consider a secluded lakeside lot in cottage country. There’s no arguing that the lake is beautiful, but…are you sure it’s safe to swim? Are there signs of erosion at the shoreline? Is it legal to build a dock? And the land itself ‒ does it have electricity, water, and gas? What’s it like driving there in the winter?

The list goes on. And these are all things you need to think about even before you start looking into building permits, which are a whole other story!

Bottom line is, don’t rush into buying an empty lot just because we’re living in a pandemic. Due diligence is the key to getting the land and home of your dreams.

As the saying goes, you can change the house, but you can never change the view!

2. Searching for the Perfect Lot

These days, virtually every land search starts online.

One of the upsides of sheltering in place is that you have more time to research potential locations. Take some time to virtually explore the locations you want to move, typical land values in the area, and the average selling prices for vacant lots similar to what you’re looking for.

Make sure you’re familiar with real estate terms and listing abbreviations so that you can easily narrow down your search.

Now is also a good time to ask family and friends for realtor recommendations. Always be sure to verify a potential realtor’s credentials online. Confirm that the agent holds a valid licence and has no upcoming hearings or past disciplinary decisions. Last but not least, make a shortlist of candidates to interview by phone or Zoom meeting.

3. Visiting a Potential Property

Once you’ve found land you are interested in, the next step is to contact the seller or their realtor directly (or have your realtor contact them) to arrange a viewing.

Real estate has been considered an essential service from the start of the pandemic. However, since the process usually involves face-to-face interactions between many people, safety protocols have been in place to protect buyers, sellers, and realtors.

Despite bans on open houses at various points throughout the pandemic, realtors can usually still take buyers to see vacant lots. Some realtors also provide live video tours of the land, which is particularly helpful if the lot is far away and you’re under a stay-at-home order.

It has always been crucial to obtain the landowner’s permission before visiting a vacant lot, even if the lot is remote and totally empty. This is of even greater importance during the pandemic. Be respectful of the landowner and make sure you have permission before setting foot on their property!

Lastly, if you have scheduled an in-person viewing, be sure to cancel if you are sick. Health comes first, no matter how keen you are to start building your dream home!

If time is of the essence, you can always ask the owner or agent for a live video tour instead.

4. Adding up the Costs

Buying land and building from scratch can be the key to affording the house of your dreams.

However, you shouldn’t forget that the land purchase and building costs are only one part of the equation.

First, you’ll need to pay for an up-to-date land survey to ensure you know the true and accurate boundaries of the lot. Don’t rely on a survey provided by the seller. You don’t want to find out later that your dream home is actually on someone else’s property!

After that, you’ll likely want to invest in title insurance. Although Ontario does not require title insurance, you should talk about it with your lawyer and broker or insurance company to make an informed decision based on your specific situation and needs.

The cost of utilities is another important consideration, especially for remote properties. As a result of lockdowns and delays, bringing utilities like electricity, gas, phone and internet lines will likely be costlier than it would have been before.

Then, of course, there are permits. You’ll require a building permit for everything from the home or cottage itself, to utilities like electricity and septic tank, to amenities such as a dock or shed. In many cases, the pandemic has also delayed this process, causing backlogs that extend both the time and cost necessary to get started.

But don’t lose heart. You can track and plan for these additional costs in your budget from the start. With a solid plan, a bit of patience, and some perseverance, you’ll have the property of your dreams in no time!

5. Finding a Home Builder During COVID-19

Of course, there’s one last piece of the property puzzle: the home or cottage you plan to build there.

In these uncertain times, it is especially important to find a home builder you can trust, and who can provide a realistic price estimate even before you settle on a vacant lot.

Pandemic or not, a custom home in Ontario is always a good investment. We’d love to talk to you about building your dream home in 2022. Contact us or find your nearest Design Centre to get started!

This has been a great experience for us to date.Greg & Sherrie
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  • FAQ

    Where can I get a price list or How come your website doesn’t show pricing?

    Prices vary geographically, depending on where you are building. With the amount of options available, price lists run into thousands of options. Prices change with the options you choose. The best way to get an idea on pricing would be to contact our Design Centre nearest to where you are building.

    Why should I buy from you over a conventional or "Stick-Builder"?

    The advantages of prefab include building in a climate controlled environment, using environmentally friendly products which reduces waste and a CSA monitored quality controlled program. There is less time start to finish, with less disruption to neighborhood. We also sell at a firm price.

    Do your homes include a foundation?

    Yes our homes include full foundation and basement.

    How long does it take to build a Royal Home?

    It takes less than two weeks to build a home in our factory, but the process from start to finish is very dependent on the timing of obtaining a building permit. For most of our clients the process from start to delivery is twelve to sixteen weeks with move in eight to twelve weeks thereafter.

    What size homes do you build?

    As a custom builder we can build any size home but generally the average size range is between 1300 and 3500 sq feet.

    Do you build garages?

    Yes. Garages are built on site after the home is delivered.

    Are the homes energy efficient?

    Building a prefab home in a factory assures the highest attention to sealing the building envelope and ensures that the cold stays out.

    Since your homes are so energy efficient and air tight, how do you get fresh air?

    All our homes have HRV heat recovery ventilator air exchanger to remove stale air, and introduce fresh air.

    Where can I put a prefab home?

    Anywhere in Ontario you like.

    Can I really customize my prefab home?

    Yes, we use state of the art custom design software, today no two homes are built alike.

    Do you finish the basement?

    Yes. We can customize your basement to the finishes you desire.

    Are Royal Homes built to code?

    All Royal Homes are individually designed to meet all provincial and municipal building codes for your specific lot location.

    Do you build stick-built or conventional homes as well?

    We are a custom home builder first and use prefabricated components wherever we can, because it is a better way to build. If you have a remote site or custom home design with large open spaces we would look at what makes most sense for that design and location. This could include prebuilt panels or partially site built specific rooms.

    What makes the building process environmentally friendly?

    Waste in the factory is separated and recycled, reducing the impact on landfills. This has less disruption in terms of noise and time at job site. Building prefab allows for higher energy efficient homes and reduced heating costs.

    How is your home delivered?

    Our home is delivered by way of custom designed hydraulic flatbed trailers and precisely craned onto the foundation.

    Can you make changes or custom design?

    Yes, clients are given preliminary plans to review and changes are welcome and easily accommodated.