A Guide To Buying Council Land

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The process of buying council land involves distinct steps and considerations that set it apart from buying private land.

This article provides an overview of the general steps involved in buying council-owned land, emphasising the importance of contacting the relevant council, submitting an application, and navigating through the decision-making and negotiation processes.

What’s the process for buying council land?

Here are the steps involved:

1. Contact the council: Reach out to the council in the area where you want to buy land to learn about their specific process for land sales.

2. Submit an application: After understanding the council’s process, submit an application. This typically involves providing information about yourself, your intended use for the land, and other relevant details.

3. Wait for the council’s decision: The council will review your application and decide whether to proceed with the land sale. There might be a requirement to attend a public meeting to discuss your application.

4. Negotiate sale terms: If your application is approved, engage in negotiations with the council regarding the sale terms. This includes aspects such as the purchase price and closing date.

5. Close the sale: Once the terms are agreed upon, finalise the sale by signing a purchase agreement and completing the payment of the purchase price.

The process of buying council land can vary from council to council. Some councils may have more specific requirements or procedures than others. It’s important to do your research and understand the specific process for the council in the area where you are interested in buying land.

What are the benefits of buying council land?

There are four key benefits to buying council land, including:

• Council land is often more affordable than land that is privately owned. This is because councils are not motivated by profit, and they may be willing to sell land at a below-market price in order to generate revenue or to promote community development.

• Council land is often located in desirable areas. Councils typically own land in high-demand areas, such as near schools, parks, and other amenities. This can be a significant advantage if you are looking for a property in a specific location.

• Council land may be eligible for certain government programs and incentives. Councils may be willing to work with developers who are willing to create affordable housing or other projects that benefit the community.

• The process of buying council land can be more streamlined than buying land from a private seller. Councils typically have a well-defined process for selling land, and they may be more willing to work with potential buyers who meet their criteria.

Stephen Clark, from specialist land bridging loan broker Finbri, comments, “Given the current state of the housing market and the persistently high base rate at 5.25%, it comes as no surprise that a considerable number are turning their attention to the most cost-effective housing options available. Property developers can leverage land bridging finance to purchase council land and capitalise on the opportunities available.”

How much does it cost to apply to buy council-owned land?

Applying to purchase council-owned land often costs a fee varying from £175 to £600 plus VAT (depending on the council), with the application fee being non-refundable regardless of the sale’s completion status. The overall cost of the land is subject to variation based on factors such as the property’s size and location.

In addition to the purchase price, prospective buyers are obligated to cover the council’s legal and surveying fees as part of the acquisition process (in some cases this is included in the application fee).

What types of finance can be used to purchase council land?

Potential buyers can explore a number of financing options, here are three of the most common options:

Traditional mortgage: Buyers may secure a mortgage from a bank or financial institution to fund the purchase of council land. This is a common financing method that involves regular repayments over an agreed-upon period.

Land bridge loan: A land bridging loan can be used to provide short-term financing for the acquisition of council land. This type of loan is particularly useful when there is a time gap between the purchase of the land and the sale of an existing property.

Development finance: Developers looking to undertake construction projects on council land may explore development finance options. These loans are tailored to fund the development process, covering costs from acquisition to construction.

Are there any restrictions on buying council land?

Councils include restrictions on the use of land sold to the public in order to protect the character of the area and ensure that the land is used for the benefit of the community.

Here are the most common restrictions that may be included in a council land sale:

• Development that can be built on the land.
• Height of buildings that can be constructed on the land.
• Use of the land for commercial purposes.
• Number of people who can live on the land.
• Type of animals that can be kept on the land.

These restrictions are typically designed to protect the character of the area and ensure that the land is used in a way that is consistent with the surrounding community.

Final thoughts

Navigating the process of buying council land requires careful attention to the specific steps outlined by each council. From initial contact to negotiating sale terms, potential buyers should be aware of the variations in procedures that may exist between different councils.

The benefits of acquiring council land, such as affordability, desirable locations, and potential eligibility for government programs, make it an appealing option.

However, buyers should be prepared for application fees, legal and surveying costs, and be mindful of any restrictions imposed by councils to maintain the community’s character.

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