If you’re interesting in buying land in the great state of Washington, you’re going to want to do plenty of research first. Knowing what the possibilities and limitations of a property are is essential for any land purchase, but this is particularly true when you’re looking for land in Washington, a state where a wide variety of environmental factors could affect the ultimate outcome of your investment.

The best way to make sure that you dot all of your i’s and dot all of your t’s: a feasibility study, also referred to as a feasibility contingency. A feasibility study is a set period of time that you negotiate with a seller to do your property research. Think of it like a home inspection contingency, with the option for you to back out of your offer (and have your earnest money refunded) if you find a major issue with the land that impacts your desire to purchase it.

Feasibility studies serve a major purpose, which is to allow you to determine if a piece of property is practical for you before you go all in on it. And in Washington, a state with its fair share of protected areas, flood zones, water restrictions, and climate factors, it’s extra important if you want to ensure a smart buy.

How to do a feasibility study

A standard feasibility study is for a period of about 60 to 90 days, depending on what you negotiate with the seller. During this period of time, you’ll want to do as much research as possible to be sure that (a) the land is worth investing in and (b) the land is worth the price of your initial offer.

Of course, this isn’t an endeavor that you’ll take on alone. In general, a feasibility study will bring in the expertise of an architect, an engineer, and a builder (depending on what your plans are). Because all of these experts have fees, allocate your resources where it makes the most sense in terms of what you want to achieve.

Things you’ll want to ascertain during your feasibility study in Washington state include:

  • Topography and building potential
  • Environmental factors, such as soil quality and water potential
  • Critical areas, such as the presence of flood plains or wetlands
  • Covenants and conditions
  • Zoning restrictions
  • Upcoming projects nearby
  • Land access

Do note that some of the research required to get the answers you need may cost additional money, such as a soil analysis test.

After the study

Buying land in Washington, like buying land anywhere else, is all about cost versus benefit. Based on your findings during the feasibility study, determine what course of action you want to take, whether that’s going forward with your initial offer, reducing your offer, or backing out of the deal entirely.

The biggest benefit of doing a feasibility study before committing to your purchase is that it gives you the time and flexibility that you need to make a sound investment. Ideally, you’ll find that the land is well suited to your purposes and you’ll feel confident buying it. And if not? Go back to the drawing board. There is a lot of land for sale of Washington, and a better deal could be right around the corner.

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