Finding Land for a Custom Home in New Jersey

So, you want to build a custom house. Before you can build a home, you'll have to find the right plot of land. Buying land in New Jersey can be rewarding. Our property values are high, and for good reason! With convenient access to beaches, historic sites, large metropolitan areas and idyllic out-of-the-way rural spots, your home in New Jersey will have a little something for everyone in your household. Choosing the right property is important. Knowing what you want, doing research, and aligning with the right team of professionals can make your endeavor a success.

Know What You Want

Before buying a plot of land, or even looking at land in you area, know what you want in a home and in a property. How big? How many bedrooms? How many square feet, indoors and out? Good views? Built-in pool? Large deck or patio? Water features? Close to work, or far from neighbors?

Knowing what you want and organizing your needs by level of priority will make it easier to identify the right property when it you see it. Knowing your priorities can also save you time, by helping you to cross properties off your list site-unseen. If you're not sure what you want, start by looking at empty land in your area. This will give you ideas. You may also want to go look at some modern homes for sale, to get a sense of what other home buyers are doing.

This planning stage will require you to have long conversations with members of your household, and may even involve some goal setting. Think about future children, pets, hobbies and commute times.

Knowing your personal goals will help you make decisions like how big the land needs to be, where it should be located, and what kind of land features you'll be looking for.

Budget Carefully

Getting financing for a land purchase can be a challenge. Structures give banks leverage that makes lending less risky. Without a home to take away in the event of a default, banks are reluctant to lend money. That's why you can't get a standard mortgage for a plot of empty land.

People who buy land without a home on it must either secure a non-traditional form of financing, or must pay for the land up front. Often, land sellers offer their own financing. 

>> Download our free Custom Home Budget Worksheet 


Get an Inspection

Getting an environmental assessment is important for ensuring the safety of the house and everyone who lives there. Inspectors typically look for evidence of chemical spills and toxins in the soil, contaminants in the water, poor air quality and other problems that could reduce your quality of life or put your household in harm's way. Check with the inspector to find out what they'll look for before hiring them.


Do Your Homework

Zoning laws in New Jersey vary by community. Before making your purchase, explore zoning in the area thoroughly. Knowing the zoning laws can help you decide whether you'll be able to do everything that you want with your property. This may be especially important if:

  • You plan to build an in-law apartment or a second residential structure on the property you buy,
  • You're homesteading and will be owning animals or selling products you make, or
  • You're planning to use your property for both commercial and residential purposes.

Talk to your builder and real estate agent about your ultimate plans for your property. Very likely, both professionals will have insights into zoning that can help you identify roadblocks or challenges to be worked out before making your purchase.


Work With a Team of Experts

Assemble a team of experts to help you with your plans. Working with a capable team makes your project less stressful and more successful. Your team of experts can also help you avoid costly mistakes.

Design Build Contractor

Design build contractors provide all design services in-house, offering a streamlined building experience that starts and ends all with one company. When hiring a design build contractor, start by vetting multiple professionals. Shopping around helps you find the right contractor for your budget and your personal style.

  • Contact three builders before choosing the right one for you. Look for award-winning businesses that have aligned themselves with professional associations in the area.
  • Check each builder's references.
  • Read any contract thoroughly before signing.

Once you've aligned yourself with the right builder, meet on-site to talk about the possibilities for the piece of land you're thinking about purchasing. Your builder can help you identify issues with the land before moving forward with a purchase.



If you must get financing for the land you'd like to buy, work with a lender with a good reputation. Choosing a lender is a lot like choosing a builder. Call around and talk to several lenders before settling on the one that's right for you.

Explore issues like how much will be required for a down payment, what the interest rate will be, how much you can expect to pay per month for your loan, how long the loan will last, and the total amount you can expect to pay over the life of the loan. Ask lots of questions. The more questions you ask, the easier it will be to make an informed decision.


Real Estate Professional

Real estate agents can help home buyers through the negotiation process when they're buying land. A good real estate agent can also provide tips when looking for the right community. Interview real estate agents and choose one with good communication skills and a solid reputation in their area.


Contact GTG Builders LLC

With over 65 years in the business, GTG Home Builders has a reputation for producing beautiful homes in New Jersey. We're proud to be your partner in the home building process. Contact us today to get started building your forever home.

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