This blog is part one in a four part series about purchasing raw land.
If you are subscribed to my newsletter, or follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a BIG announcement recently. My husband Rob and I purchased a piece of land on the water in New Smyrna Beach.
Honestly, we weren’t looking to buy land (famous last words) but we were looking to enhance our current lifestyle by incorporating the beach, the ocean, the intracoastal, etc. We don’t have a boat just yet, but our family thrives when we’re at the beach, or on a boat in the ocean and our daughter really loves the water.
At first we thought a condo would be our first choice and we looked at many condominium communities in New Smyrna Beach. And while a condo is nice because you don’t have to worry about much of the maintenance, the high condo fees deterred us. Give or take, condo fees are normally $300/month in the Orlando area. But when you get into coastal communities, especially waterfront, the fees are much higher, some as much at $650/month or more. The reason is that buildings take a beating when they are constantly subjected to the salt air, and the fees will include exterior insurance (not flood insurance) for the building. A waterfront condo inherantly carries a higher risk of there being damage in a storm, hence the higher condo fee. Do I sound like an insurance agent’s wife? Because I am. Lastly, we needed to take into consideration our daughter and her needs, the condo association’s pet policy, elevator access for visitors who might have trouble with stairs and the space we would need. What we we found when looking is that for us, a condo didn’t check enough boxes.
From there we decided to broaden our search and see what kind of single family homes were available. Having a single family house on the ocean was unaffordable for us, plus there would be super high insurance premiums. Anything that looked affordable needed a ton of work, or wasn’t providing a view of the water. The things on the market were missing the mark as well.
I joke because I wasn’t looking at any land, so Rob actually found a property that was a little more inland, but was on the bay, and it connected to the intracoastal. On a map, it looked like it might not connect, so we rented a boat one day and did some due diligence on our own prior to making an offer. The boat made it, and the next day we made an offer.
In purchasing vacant land, we are able to control the costs a little more. I negotiated $55K off the asking price and used my knowledge in the industry to explain the challenging parts of the lot (narrow, in a flood zone, protected wetlands) to emphasize that the buyer for this particular lot would need to be ambitious and understand the hurdles that needed to be overcome. Armed with my insurance agent husband, we learned that flood insurance would only cost $700/year and our home insurance would cost another $700 bringing our insurance grand total to $1400.
How is that possible? Well, we had to think outside the box. Not only will we need to bring in fill dirt, but to maximize the view and protect the property it was determined that building on pilings was the best way to go and that truly makes all the difference when you’re on the water. Being closer to the coast, additional requirements are also mandated such as hurricane rated windows and doors; we also expressed to our builder that we wanted a metal roof. All of these selections make the insurance cost lower and provide a sturdy home that is better able to stand up to the elements.
We’re very excited, but are anticipating this process will take quite a while. Next up I will talk about our due diligence period and the things you can do to make sure the land is suitable for building, and what things you need to be OK with as an absorbed risk when purchasing raw land.