When investing in land or vacant lot purchase, you may be required to register for a new address. If you’re purchasing new construction from a developer, the address application has probably already been done.
But plots of land that are purchased individually or in unincorporated areas will likely need to go through an address application initiated by the property owner.
Getting a new address requires some legwork, but the process itself is relatively straightforward once you get the ball rolling. We’ll walk through how to get an address for land purchases, one step at a time.
Why You Need to Have an Address
The most obvious reason you need an address is for the purpose of receiving mail and packages. But there are many other reasons why an address is necessary and important.
For instance, many utility companies will require a physical address in order to set up services. Before running any power lines, plumbing pipes, or cable wires, your property will need a valid address.
You’ll need an address to properly direct people to your land, even before you welcome guests to your home sweet home. From construction contractors and plumbers to electricians and landscapers, your development crew and subs will need to know the location of the job.
Most early-stage builders can use GPS coordinates, but team members at later stages will prefer an address that’s recognized by their map apps, just like everyone else!
For those landowners who don’t plan to build a home, having an address is still important in case of an emergency.
In a worst-case scenario, emergency medical technicians and law enforcement personnel will be able to respond more quickly when given a registered address. As long as you agree to put up a mailbox on the land, you can apply for an address.
Where To Apply For an Address
New addresses are assigned by the local government office that has authority over the parcel of land.
If the land lies inside city limits, the city government will be in charge of assigning your official address.
Depending on the bureaucratic structure, addresses may be taken care of by the building and zoning department, the geographic information systems department, the department of public works, or the department of consumer and regulatory affairs.
Outside the city lines, similar departments within the county recorder’s or assessor’s office will be in charge of assigning the address. Either way, contact your local government office for directions to the correct department.
If it’s unclear what government body has authority—city or county—your real estate agent should be able to help guide you.
When To Apply For a New Address
Because of the need for building professionals to access the parcel of land, it’s important to apply for a new address as early as possible.
However, local governments have different stipulations for when landowners can apply for a new address. Some allow owners to apply immediately before any construction begins. Other municipalities combine the address application with a building permit application.
City governments might issue addresses after the lot has been graded and a driveway has been established off of the access road. But some areas may actually require a portion of the structure, such as framing, to be complete before going through the process.
How to Get a New Address for Land
Different local governments vary in the way they handle the process of applying for a new address but generally speaking, you’ll need to be prepared to walk through the following steps.
Step 1: Gather Necessary Information
You’ll need to show proof of ownership as well as precise location information in order to apply for an address. Be prepared to submit some combination of the following necessary documents, depending upon your local government’s guidelines.
- Property deed or land deed
- Purchase contract
- Multiple forms of personal identification
- Assessor’s parcel number (APN)
- Latitude and longitude
- Legal description
- Contractor receipts
- Site plan
- Architectural and/or floor plans
- Map of the surrounding area (with cross streets)
Step 2: Complete the Application
Often the application for a new address is available online. However, you may need to submit the documents in person at your local government office. Be sure to make copies of everything before you submit the application, especially all the pages of your deed.
Step 3: Pay the Application Fee
Applications for new addresses require a processing fee. This may run anywhere between $50 and $500 depending on your location and building type.
Step 4: Expect an On-site Visit
Once your application has been received by the correct city or county department, the officials in charge will usually schedule an on-site visit to verify the physical location of the property.
At this time, the inspector will also ensure that local address stipulations have been met (such as the driveway access, the grading, or the framing mentioned above).
Step 5: Receive Notification of Address Approval
This is where the waiting comes in! Typically, it takes between two and four weeks to get a new address approved by your local government agency. During that time, they will be processing the paperwork, doing the physical visit, and consulting any established city planning guidelines regarding the street number.
Once your new address is approved, the notification will most likely be mailed to your contact information (not to your new property).
How to Make Sure a New Address Receives Mail
The United States Postal Service, as well as private couriers like FedEx and United Parcel Service, all require a valid registered address in order to deliver mail to your new property.
Your local government agency should register your new address across all government bodies, including the United States Postal Service, but sometimes for whatever reason, there’s a discrepancy that disrupts the process of receiving mail.
If you suspect that your mail is being returned for having an invalid address, the following action points can help ensure that your address is properly registered for mail.
- Check for CASS-certification. Consult these USPS-approved databases to make sure that your address is on the CASS-certified list. (CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System, which means the address has been checked against the Postal Service database.)
- Visit the local post office. Ask to speak with the postmaster regarding your new address. If the address is certified and yet there’s still been a problem regarding mail delivery, it may be solved by filling out some official forms (such as a change of address request, for example). When visiting, you should bring your notification of address approval for reference.
- Install an approved mailbox. Make sure that the mailbox at your new address is federally approved, both in type and in placement. The USPS has guidelines for installing a mailbox correctly, and if those rules are not followed it may affect mail delivery at your new address.
Getting a new address is just one important part of purchasing land or beginning new construction. For more information about the process of investing in vacant land, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at American Wildlands LLC.
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