Buying Land from the Council

Buying Land from the Council

When you’re planning to build your perfect property, you begin by finding the ideal plot of land.

It’s 2019 and, as you might imagine, there are dozens of places both online and off where you can find available plots of land. It’s a topic we discussed before, during which we touched on the fact that you can speak to your local planning office to find council owned plots of land which are open to offers.

It was a small part of a larger piece, but we thought it deserved a slightly longer examination. So, what do you need to know about buying land from the council? Join us as we share everything you need to know.


Identifying the Land

The first step to buying land from the council is, obviously, finding what land they have available. Thankfully, councils now make it trivial to find what land they have available.

Our top tip is to fire up Google and search for ‘your target council’ followed by ‘land available’. The council’s dedicated ‘land for sale’ page should be within the first few results and, from there, you can see every detail of the land available from your council.

From there you can move on to…


Making or Accepting an Offer

The main terms by which a council is prepared to sell a plot of land will be set out in the published sales details on the ‘for sale’ section of your councils’ websites. Alternatively, should there be no terms listed, call up your council’s planning department and enquire.

Before you make an offer or accept a pre-defined offer from the council, it’s important that you consider a few points first, namely:

  • Is the land worth as much to you as the council are quoting? Councils are can sometimes prove difficult to negotiate with, so don’t expect significant savings on the list price. If unsure, consider appointing a Chartered Surveyor to consult with you on the true value of the land.
  • Do you have the money in place already and, if not, how long will this take? A council won’t take land off the market until you’ve exchanged contracts.
  • Are you aware of the restrictions or conditions set out in the sales details? You may be restricted from building certain types of property on the land. Speak to a surveyor or solicitor if you’re concerned.
  • Have you factored in any purchase costs associated with buying land from the council?

If you’re comfortable with the above points and still want to go ahead with your purchase then simply follow the information on the sales details of the land to make an offer.

It’s crucial to note that if your offer is accepted, the council are duty bound to consider all additional offers for the land up until the point contracts have been exchanged.


Factoring in Purchase Costs

There are a number of costs associated with buying land, and that’s no different when you’re buying from the council. Those costs include:

  • The Council’s costs – The council will demand any purchaser make a contribution towards the costs incurred by the council. This varies from council to council and plot to plot, so do check the sales details and terms before you invest.
  • Your own costs – An obvious one, but if you’re appointing lawyers and surveyors, those costs mount up. These will naturally be higher if you obtain a survey on the land.
  • Planning application costs – If you’re intending to change the use of the land, you will have to pay the costs of submitting new planning applications.
  • VAT – Not every sale from the council is subject to VAT and this information will be found in the sales details or offer. However, if it is subject to VAT, you’ll have to factor this into your costs.