Unrestricted land is a commonly misunderstood concept, which can lead buyers, sellers, brokers, and everyone in between to a serious mess. When buying land for sale, it’s important that you really understand what “unrestricted” means.
Where the Problems Begin
It’s common for buyers to interpret “unrestricted” as meaning they have the power to do whatever they want on their new land, but this term differs across the entire country. Every building and zoning department has their own codes, rules, and regulations. The best way to ensure you keep yourself out of hot water is to contact your local (County or State if no local exists) building and zoning department directly to determine what their specific rules around the unrestricted nature of your property actually means.
When buyers see a property listed as “unrestricted” they take it to mean they are free to build any type or color of home, don’t have architectural requirements or square footage minimums, or maybe even that they can place a mobile home or tiny home on the lot. However, there is only one way in which a property can be truly unrestricted.
What Qualifies Land as Unrestricted?
While rules and requirements vary across counties, cities, and states and most places will have at least a health and safety inspection there is a way in which land can be unrestricted. If property is unrestricted from:
- Deed restrictions
- Zoning restrictions
- Easement restrictions
Property must be unrestricted from ALL 3 of the above restrictions to truly be classified as “unrestricted”. Often times sellers and agents don’t even know for sure, so you will want to take matters into your own hands to ensure the property you’re looking at will meet your needs. So, what do these 3 restrictions mean?
Deed restrictions can limit the type of structure permitted on the land. They may require buildings to adhere specific architectural aesthetic guidelines and often allows for organizations to enforce restrictions against violations.
Zoning restrictions control how property is used and developed. This is to keep areas organized by categories such as residential, commercial, industrial, or retail. Meaning you likely couldn’t build a nightclub in the middle of a residential neighborhood even if you bought the land there.
Easement restrictions, while often are invisible lines, can actually affect how you use your land. They may demarcate areas of gas lines, traffic easements, sewer easements, etc. This is a factor you’ll want to consider when buying plots of land outside of the city as the neighboring properties may have control over factors that technically lie on your own land.
Unrestricted land is not created equal and what may be restricted on one property could be completely different from an identical neighboring property. To ensure you know exactly what you can and can’t do with your land it’s best to do your due diligence. Do a little research and make sure you aren’t breaking any rules.