Shopping for Land? There are no dumb questions!


As the weather gets chillier, there’s still time to buy your own piece of recreational property in time to enjoy it this year. But to do that, you’ll need to shop efficiently. So how do you that?

Charlie Chernak, broker/owner of Bear Island Land Co. in Ely, Minnesota, has helped recreational land buyers for more than 20 years. Chernak, a member of the Potlatch Preferred Broker Network, has a number of tips for making the buying process more efficient. Here are five:

  1. Narrow your search geographically as much as you can when you start looking at properties. And as you assess different geographic areas, evaluate characteristics like deer densities, access to nearby amenities and the age and types of timber. “Narrowing things down as soon as you can is very important,” Charlie says. “After all, if you wanted to look for properties across an entire state, that could take several years.”
  1. Work with a reputable, experienced real estate broker who specializes in land. This professional is going to save you time by knowing how to match you with the property that works for you in terms of location, amenities and price. “Selling a home is completely different from selling land. A quality land broker will know where to focus in searching for the type of property you are looking for.”

    Sturgeon River Parcel | St. Louis County, MN | 30 acres | $55,000 | Listed by Bear Island Land, Co.

  1. Know how much you feel comfortable spending. “Doing this will save you a lot of time in itself. Some lenders will pre-qualify you. And even if you are paying cash, knowing your budget is an important part of finding a property in an efficient way.”
  1. Evaluate the access into the property. “Are going to be okay with driving down a gravel road that isn’t maintained? That may be fine, but you may want a spot that isn’t quite as remote.”
  1. Think about resale, even if that isn’t in your plans anytime soon. “Make sure that what you are buying isn’t so unique that no one else would want to buy it if you decide to sell later. People’s situations change. As an example, you may think that you want to pass the property along to your kids, but when the time comes, make sure the property would be attractive to buyers if the kids decide to sell.”

And remember this: There is no such thing as a dumb question as you start your land search.

“One part of a productive relationship with your real estate broker is that you feel comfortable asking about anything,” Charlie says. “Often, an issue can come up because the buyer was assuming something that wasn’t the case. Don’t be shy: Just go ahead and ask. Getting an answer to your question now will put your mind at ease, and will guarantee that there won’t be an issue later.”

If you’re in Charlie’s neck of the woods in the Ely area of northern Minnesota, give him a call and get the land search going. And if you’re looking in other parts of Minnesota, or in Idaho, Mississippi, Arkansas or Alabama, any of our Potlatch Preferred Brokers will help you make the process efficient.

Start the search now, so you can have your own recreational property before 2017!

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