Vacant land comes in many shapes and sizes and Colorado is no exception. The stunning Colorado Rocky Mountains are a dream for many people.
Land purchase process overview
- Research the size of property, zoning rules, and other helpful details
- Consider how to fund your purchase, either with cash or a loan.
- Find the property for sale on sites with owner-operated listings, or get help from a realtor
- Write the purchase agreement and make an offer
- Perform due diligence on the property (e.g. survey, title search)
- A title company or real estate attorney finalizes the deal
Whether you’re looking for a parcel of land that offers a rural lifestyle or one with access to the higher elevations, this state has something for everyone. With everything from hillside acreages to valley floor lots, the opportunities for land ownership in Colorado are abundant.
More information on how to buy land in Colorado:
The first step is learning about the different types of parcels that you can buy in Colorado. Much of the state’s landscape is dominated by federal lands, including national forests, national parks and Bureau of Land Management property. Within this public domain are subregions dedicated to such initiatives as Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas and Wild & Scenic Rivers. Ranging from large tracts of hundreds and thousands of acres to a few thousand square feet, opportunity awaits.
The next step is to locate land in Colorado that would suit your needs. With so many different variances in size, location and type of terrain, landownership can be as simple or as complex as you want.
For example, if you’re looking for a property that provides a rural lifestyle with easy access to the mountains and ideal for building a home, there are countless options available. In the 19th century, homesteading became an appealing option for founding families to begin their own history on prime Colorado land. You can still do this today, purchasing land as close to a National Forest as possible for a low price and then building your dream home on this spectacular property.
Alternatively, you can purchase a property in the foothills that offers the best of both worlds. The location is ideal for those who want to live in a rural area with access to major towns like Denver and Fort Collins. If you’re looking for something more urban, there are plenty of apartments and condos on the market for rent or sale.
If you have your heart set on owning land in Colorado, it’s always best to start searching right away.
Basic services to consider when purchasing land in Colorado
Water/Sewer/Septic – in most cases, the water and sewer systems are owned and maintained by a district. You should contact the district to determine if you would be responsible for impounding your water. Unless you want your land to be restricted to recreational use only, you’ll need access to drinking water. In order for a property to be used as an effective farm, the land needs access to water.
Electricity – Unless you choose to go “off the grid,” or live a life of minimalism and self-sustainability, you will need access to some form of electricity (preferably in the form of solar power). This is typically provided by a county wide electric utility. Most of the county’s electric systems are rural in nature, meaning that they are generally located far apart from one another. Generally these systems are owned by a cooperative or utility company.
Telephone – installation cost, a monthly fee and whether internet will be needed are all factors to consider. Will your property have access to cell phone service or satellite reception? how about television?
Internet Service – This is becoming an increasingly important service and one that you will probably want to have. It is simple to obtain a land line, but internet service can be more difficult depending on the terrain of your property. It’s possible to get internet through satellite service, but these connections tend to be slower. However, this technology is evolving really fast with companies such as Starlink.
Garbage/Recycling – how do you plan to handle trash and recycling? Are there local services that will pick up your waste? How much is the cost? Make sure to explore local regulations.
Mail Service – if your property has a rural mailing address (i.e. “Rural Delivery”), then you will need to sign up with the US Postal Service for home delivery in order to receive mail.
Other things to consider when purchasing land
Building Codes – While most of Colorado is considered to be “rural,” this does not mean that land owners building codes are not in place. These codes are designed to make sure structures are up to safety code. The county planning and zoning office should be able to provide you with more information on these building codes.
Property Size – Unless you have a very large budget, you may want to consider purchasing land in Colorado that is smaller than you originally anticipated. This will keep the cost low and make it easier to manage the property when compared to owning a much larger piece of land. On the other hand, you may enjoy a larger parcel for outdoor activities if your budget allows it.
Conservation Easements – If conservation easements are placed on your property, it can affect what you can do with the land.
Value – The market rate for properties in different areas in Colorado varies significantly. You can get an idea of the worth by checking the sales prices of other properties on the market or by hiring a real estate agent who specializes in appraisals.
Title – the deed or title to your property will have been passed down through several generations of the property manager’s family before it reaches you. If you are looking for a new construction property, you will need to make sure that there is clear title before you make your purchase. This means that the chain of title must be unbroken for at least 20 years.
Covenants/Restrictions – while most properties in Colorado do not have covenants or restrictions, it is important to know whether they exist on a property before making an offer. Why? Because these restrictions might affect what you can do with your land in the future.
Wildfires – fire is a natural part of the life cycle in Colorado. As such, it is important to understand whether your property is at risk for wildfires. Did you know that as a landowner in Colorado, you are liable for any damage done by fire? For this reason, it’s important to know if your property has ever suffered from a wildfire or if the surrounding area is prone to fires. If you live in a high fire risk area, you might want to get a fire insurance policy.
Employment – having a job means that you will be able to purchase food and other necessities. Are there employment opportunities in your area? If not, you might want to consider moving or creating your own job.
Schools – if you have children, then they will need to go to school at some point. Be sure that the school district is large enough (i.e. has enough students to support the cost of running a school) before you buy property in the area. If there are no schools, then you might want to consider requesting that a school be built in your area or sending your children to a school outside of the area.
FEMA Flood Zones – while most of Colorado does not fall into flood zones, it is important to know if your property does have any risk of flooding. This is important in terms of safety, but it is also important to know if you will be able to flood insurance for your property.
Parks and Recreation – living near a park or recreational area is great for families. With that said, it is important to know whether there are parks and recreation areas in the area that you are considering purchasing property in before making an offer. If there aren’t, consider asking your county if they can open one at your request.
Property Insurance – even when you are purchasing a vacation home in Colorado, it is important to get property insurance for the property. If you are buying a home, then it is even more important that you purchase property insurance and flood insurance. You can check with your current car insurance company or you can contact an independent agent for help finding the right policy at the right price.
Topography – one of the defining characteristics of Colorado is its topography. Some Colorado cities are up in the mountains while others are down by the water (or in between). If you’re looking for a more rural setting, consider purchasing property that is located in a valley or near a river.
Demographics – when you purchase real estate, it’s good to know who your neighbors will be and what kinds of services live nearby.
Environmental Factors – is this property prone to flooding? Are there environmental factors that might affect the home’s value? Are there any wetlands?
Property Access – if the property is located on a private road, who manages it? Will it need to be maintained? The seller can verify the property boundaries and legal access with a survey. This will both protect the buyer in case of any disputes and provide an accurate depiction of the property for future development purposes. When there is not a survey available, you should consider paying for one. It can uncover many unforeseen issues such as property encroachments, easement rights. For example, some easement rights may not allow you to use the build on the given area.
Zoning – some states are more strict about what can be built or where than others. Is this property zoned for non-residential structures? What about schools, hospitals, or other public services? Zoning often specifies what type of home is allowed in an area. It could be traditional construction, modular homes, or manufactured homes.
Utility Lines – does the property have access to public utilities? Water and sewer services?
Land Features – do you have access to mineral rights? Are you allowed to build a home and other structures on the land? Are there restrictions that prohibits certain structures? Is the site of your construction project a solid rock? If so, you are in luck. You can skip the excavation phase and lay down a better foundation. Are there a number of trees obstructing my view? Are there environmental issues in the realm of illegal dumping that have happened on site?
Easements and Rights of Way – what are the property boundaries, easements, and rights of way?
Local Taxes/Assessments – what will the local tax burden be on your property? Is X property well-located near schools, parks and businesses?
Soils – what are the soil conditions in your land?
To conclude, there are many services that you need to think about when purchasing property in Colorado. A few of these are water and waste, electricity, and internet. Some counties can provide these utilities while others do not. In any case, it is always best to have back-up plans if there is a discrepancy between what the seller promised and what you receive. While it is not mandatory, you should check out the property before making an offer. In this way, you can see if the seller is telling the truth about their property and make an informed decision.
Buying land in Colorado can be a rewarding experience, it is also important to make sure that you have all of the details on your property. If you don’t know what restrictions are in place, how to get electricity or how much taxes might increase then it might not be in your best interest to purchase that piece of land. By knowing the property and what might be on it, you can easily make an informed decision.
Once you purchase your land, there a few things that you should know about the next steps. For example, if you received a lot of income from rental properties or other land deals, consider setting up an LLC for your investments. This can protect your investment in case of any legal issues or financial mismanagement. Additionally, if you’re planning on selling your property down the road, it’s important to get title insurance on your property. This will protect you from any legal issues associated with your land. For example, if there is an encroachment on one of your property lines, the title insurance company will help you resolve the issue so that you can keep your property. If you are looking for a place to retire, build your dream home or vacation home, there are many reasons to purchase land in Colorado.