I have learned many things over many years of real-estate experience and I think you will find the following information useful in your search and eventual purchase of property in the Black Hills. If any property we have is of any interest to you, feel free to give us a call and if what we have is not what you are looking for perhaps we may be able to answer some of your questions about the Black Hills and purchasing other property here.
Over the years I have talked a few people out of buying property I had for sale by explaining to them most of the costs associated with building their own home or cabin, or by pointing out the disadvantages of my particular property.
All properties have disadvantages to them. Although, what one person may consider a disadvantage, may be an advantage to another. I for example, would consider a 6 mile long driveway a big plus, whereas most people would consider it a negative. (A ranch I once owned had a 6 mile long driveway, today my driveway into my present ranch is only 3 miles long. Way too short for me)
Any realtor or seller that will not tell you, when asked, what some people may consider disadvantages to the property they are selling, is someone that I would watch very closely in any dealings I might have with them.
Here are some guidelines that may be of help to you in purchasing your property in the Black Hill, or anywhere for that matter.
First and foremost make sure you have a reliable source of potable water, unless you are willing to haul water to a cistern that you could put in. There are many places in the Black Hills where you can't get water, or to get it you may have to drill a well 2,000 feet deep.
Make sure you have electricity and phone available if it is important to you.
Make sure there is a legal recorded easement to your property or that is boarders a public road.
Make sure you understand the zoning for your area. All parcels in the Black Hills are not buildable.
Make sure you have a perk test done or you are guaranteed to be able to put in a septic system.
I strongly recommend that you make sure the property has been surveyed.
Do not buy the property without having the seller agreeing to furnish you good, free and clear title proven by a title insurance policy.
If timber is important to you, make sure you do not have a large pine beetle problem.
There are no income taxes in South Dakota so the real-estate taxes are higher than in many states. Make sure you understand what your taxes on the land are going to be rather than what they are now. As an example if a parcel of land is presently zoned as agricultural land the taxes could be as low as one dollar per acre but once you buy it, if it becomes residential property, the taxes will be much, much higher. Possibly even a hundred times higher.
Make sure you understand the costs involved in having your own home built. Excavation, materials and labor on the home itself, a well, a septic system, culvert and approach, driveway, electricity, phone, fencing, and permits if any are required.
Ask yourself, how are you going to pay for this property. Do you have the cash? Will your bank or someone else loan you the money? Will the seller sell it to you over time on a Contract for Deed?
The normal way property is sold is that the buyer signs a purchase agreement and gives the seller or realtor an earnest money check. There is no standard amount required for earnest money. It depends a lot on when you are going to close (actually purchase the property). The sooner you close, the less earnest money should be required. I personally have never put down anymore than 10% and usually not that much.
Between the time of the signing of the purchase agreement and the closing, the seller will furnish you with a title commitment which will indicate that there is clear title, or will be, upon closing and that the title company is willing to insure the property and guarantee clear title. You will be able to use that time to line up you financing.
When you sign the purchase agreement you will agree to pay the balance of the agreed upon price at closing or you will agree to sign a Contract for Deed at closing, wherein the seller agrees to take payments and give you the deed when all the payments have been paid in full.
If you like the property, don't let someone else make up your mind for you by buying it out from under you. Get a purchase agreement signed with a three to ten day due diligence contingency wherein you have that time frame to check everything out and if you decide you do not want the property to get you money back and walk away.
Some will say they can't do that for you. Yes they can. You just tell them if they get another buyer who wants it during your time frame that they must notify you and then you only have 24 hours to eliminate the contingency or they can return your money and sell it to the other buyer.
Having said that, take your time, do not rush into things. It is a natural feeling. Did I do the right thing? Can I really afford this? Is there a better one out there?
I have had those feelings each and every time, but now I just laugh at them. Know that in the end, there is no better investment than in real-estate. Now that doesn't necessarily include homes, but the Lord is not making any more raw land. In my humble opinion land is always a good safe buy!
Most sellers, including us, will not hold a property for anyone while they make up their minds, without having a purchase agreement signed because it is not fair to the next person who may want to buy it and is willing to write a check for the earnest money. But most will make a single exception for a possible buyer who is flying or otherwise making a long trip out to view a property. You don't want to pay your airfare and then when you get there find out the property is sold. So ask. Make sure you understand the risks of making a long trip to view a property.
This is worth repeating. Before you go look at any property ask what are the disadvantages or downsides of this property. All properties have them and an honest person will be glad to share them with you before you invest your or their time. Maybe what would be considered a downside to most people might even be an advantage to you.
Find out what kind of a person you are dealing with, ask them to tell you everything that they perceive some people might consider as being disadvantages or downsides to the property they are selling.
I hate to have to include this statement, but due to the nature of the world that we live in today, I am required to do so. All the information given herein is thought to be accurate or is just the opinion of the writer and is not guaranteed to be correct.