7 Things to Consider When Buying Vacant Land in Ontario

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, but the vast majority of its nearly 10 million souls live in its densely populated southern counties. Most of the province is all but uninhabited — which makes it an ideal place for intrepid land buyers.

It’s not hard to buy vacant land in Ontario. Before you do, ask yourself these seven questions.

1. Where in Ontario Do You Want to Buy?

The “safe” choice is southern Ontario, which is of course closer to the province’s major cities and better served by its road and utility infrastructure.

But heading north isn’t a risky proposition. Indeed, there’s no shortage of land for sale in northern Ontario. Aside from a handful of small cities and a greater number of towns, hamlets, and villages, northern Ontario is a vast and largely untrammeled wilderness. Land is therefore far cheaper here, and generally available in larger parcels: perfect for summer cabins, wilderness hideouts, hunting grounds.

2. What Do You Want From the Property?

Are you looking to buy a turnkey vacation property? Build improvements to your own specifications? Explore the land for minerals? Keep the lot a blank, unimproved canvas for hunting, fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation? Different properties are suited to different uses — it’s up to you to see the value in each candidate.

3. Can You Safely and Easily Access the Property?

Confirm that you can safely and easily access the property — or that you’re willing to do what’s necessary to gain access. Many northern Ontario parcels are best accessed by all-terrain vehicle, for instance.

4. Do You Have Sufficient Cash or Financing?

Financially speaking, it’s usually in buyers’ best interest to purchase vacant land with cash, or at least to put a substantial amount down at closing. If your cash position is tenuous at the moment, look for ways to raise cash for a down payment or consider putting off the transaction until you’re better off. Otherwise, you’ll need to find lenders willing to finance your purchase.

5. Do Any Liens or Title Restrictions Exist?

Don’t agree to anything without first confirming that the property is free and clear of liens, easements, defects, covenants, and other title restrictions — or that any restrictions that do exist don’t run contrary to your intended uses. It’s not uncommon for northern Ontario properties to have easements permitting public hunting, for instance.

6. Can You Make Desired Improvements?

Check local zoning codes and other land use restrictions to determine that you’ll be permitted to make any improvements you might desire: building a permanent structure, blazing a new road or improving an existing one, dredging a waterway, exploring for minerals. In ecologically sensitive areas, it may be difficult or impossible to secure permits to build near surface water features, for instance.

7. Are Surrounding Uses Tolerable?

Scope out your neighbors, if you have any. Land buyers seeking true peace and quiet might balk at noisy weekenders at the next-door cabin or high-impact land uses down the road.

Are you considering purchasing vacant land in Ontario? What’s your plan for the parcel?