With its sprawling suburbs and proximity to the Nation’s capital, Northern Virginia might not be the first place you’d think to look for recreational or hunting land for sale.
However, all it takes is a short drive west and you’ll find yourself in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounded by vast, rugged terrain. And, with the Shenandoah River and its tributaries serving as an important water source, this is a great place to search for recreational and hunting land for sale in Northern Virginia.
What are the benefits of buying recreational or hunting land for sale in Northern Virginia?
A lot of people buy recreational or hunting land to use it as a family retreat or to spend time with friends in the outdoors. And, if well maintained, it may be passed down like a family heirloom.
However, beyond your personal enjoyment, there are other benefits to owning recreational or hunting land. When you’re not using it, for example, you can lease the property to other outdoor enthusiasts.
If you decide to lease your land to hunters, the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries notes that finding responsible hunters can be mutually beneficial for the landowner and the hunter. If you are an absentee land owner, you may be able to negotiate an agreement whereby your lessee is responsible for road maintenance, habitat improvement, and the safety and security of your property.
Depending on the zoning of your property, another potential benefit of owning recreational land is the possibility of adding improvements to increase its value at a later date.
How do I attract more animals to my property?
If you’re buying land primarily for hunting, then you need to think about features that would attract animals to the property. Food, water, and cover should be primary considerations as you search for hunting land for sale in Northern Virginia, and ideally you want to find a plot of land that offers all these things naturally. However, depending on your budget, there are ways to make up for the land’s natural shortcomings.
Build food plots
First, you can build food plots to attract specific types of animals. Deer are attracted to green plants, woody browse, nuts, berries, and fungi; plant more of these, and you will get more deer. Likewise, for waterfowl, consider cultivating wild rice, wild millet, Pennsylvania smartweed, or American sloughgrass.
Create a water source
Second, you can create your own water source by installing a manmade pond or lake. If you want to attract carnivores to the property, then you can add some fish to your water source. If you’d like to learn how to build a pond on your property, Rethink:Rural has an excellent article on the subject.
Create additional cover
Third, you can create additional cover (and food) by planting tall grasses and low growing shrubs like Chickasaw Plum, Allegheny Chinkapin, American Beautyberry, and bramble bushes. To provide coverage and protection for animals during the winter months, you can plant cold hardy trees and shrubs.
What else can I do to add value to my recreational property?
People don’t typically think of recreational land as a “value add” investment opportunity, but there are several ways – ranging from inexpensive to expensive – you can create additional equity in a recreational property.
Have the property surveyed
Hands down the most common question I get asked by prospective buyers is “do you have a survey of the property?” So, the first way to add value to your property is to obtain a survey. In fact, it is wise to have the property surveyed before you purchase the property, as it will enable you to accurately stake property boundaries, identify any lot line encroachments need to be resolved before you take title to the property, and help with plotting out future improvements to the property.
Install trail cameras
According to the Realtors Land Institute, installing trail cameras vastly improve listing performance when it comes time to sell your land. They are cheap to install, and if you install them early and build up a robust archive of wildlife footage, it makes it very easy to convince future buyers who are shopping for hunting land for sale in Northern Virginia of the property’s potential.
Enhance curb appeal
Increasing curb appeal by installing “No Trespassing” signs and sturdy gates, repairing broken and rotted fences, and removing junk and debris is another relatively inexpensive way to add value to your land. As I explained in a recent blog post, the concept of curb appeal applies to land just as it applies to houses.
Consider other physical improvements
Finally, there are more substantial physical improvements that can value to recreational or hunting land. These include installing a driveway, extending electricity to the property, and drilling a well. Whether it makes sense to do any or all of these things can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.
If your property has road frontage, the cost of installing a basic driveway may be relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, if access to the property exists only on paper (in other words, there is an easement providing access but no road leading to the property), then the cost of installing a driveway might be very expensive.
Likewise, the cost of bringing electricity to your land and drilling a well can be highly variable. To find out how much it would cost to have power lines extended to your property, it is best to call the local power company. If possible, there are advantages to running powerlines underground, so you should check to see if that option is available.
The cost of drilling a well will depend on how deep you have to drill to get water. Unfortunately, there is no way to find out until you start drilling, but you can get a rough idea by checking land records to see if you can find out how deep your neighbors had to drill their wells.
Next steps for buying recreational or hunting land for sale in Northern Virginia
If you’re beginning to search for recreational or hunting land for sale in Northern Virginia, make sure to work with a real estate agent with a proven track record of land sales. There are various questions you can ask to determine if your real estate agent is the right fit. In the meantime, feel free to contact Jonathan at 202-750-4050 if you have any questions about buying or selling land in Northern Virginia.