Regardless of whether you’re buying a home or raw land, there is always a lot to consider. Rural properties have their own unique concerns — location means something different for a rural plot of land than property that is nestled in a big city.
You’ll usually need to find specific lenders and realtors that understand rural areas, and specifically, the area where you’re looking to buy. First, you need to determine what you’re looking for and do some initial scouting online before visiting the property.
There are so many things to consider, so here are five things to keep in mind when buying rural land:
1. Formulate Your Plan
The type of land you buy and the amount of land that you’re buying are two big determining factors in how you’re going to pay for and maintain your new purchase. This will largely be determined by the purpose for the land in the first place. If you’re looking for a residence with a lot of land, you’ll need to worry about simple maintenance, though that can still be a lot to contend with if you’re not used to it.
If you’re buying private land, you’ll be responsible for a larger amount, like the down payment. However, if the land is commercial or for farming, your lender might be more willing to help with financing since it will help sustain itself to a degree. When buying with cash, you can base your decision on price tags alone.
Whichever you choose, make sure to find a local lender and agent who can help with your unique situation. Not only are they both great sources of information, but they have experience dealing with the complexities of real estate closings in the area. Closing procedures are generally more complicated than in suburban or rural areas, and they will help deal with closing fees, documents, and tax liabilities which is very helpful.
2. Consider Costs and Maintenance
It may be enticing to purchase a large piece of land, but the cost of upkeep involved needs to be front of mind. Any home purchase is going to incur costs over the years, and huge areas like rural properties can have a lot of unique issues. Owning land is tough work, especially if you’re planning on bringing in livestock (which is also a huge expense). Before going ahead with the purchase, consider how much land you can truly handle and make sure you’re up to the task. It may be helpful to introduce yourself to nearby ranchers to get an idea of the expenses involved.
3. Educate Yourself About Boundary Lines and Zoning Ordinances
Make sure you know where your land ends and where someone else’s land begins. It can be hard to tell, and it will be beneficial if there’s ever a dispute. Also, find out what activity is permitted on your land. It’s good to know what you can do, but you also won’t be surprised by what your neighbors are doing, whether that’s hunting, raising livestock, or running a business.
4. Test Water and Air Quality
Rural properties don’t have centralized water sources. They often rely on private wells that contain natural minerals. Hard water is safe to drink, but it has much more of a risk of contamination by dangerous chemicals like arsenic or radon. Consider how quickly the water can be sourced to your house. If gravity doesn’t do the job, you may need to factor in drilling a well or installing a water pump and filtration system.
Air quality is another huge concern. Radon is naturally occurring and found in the air in many locations. If tests for radon come back strong, then negotiate a mitigation system into your offer. You also need to consider proximity to factories or mills. If a chemical plant is nearby, then you can be sure that the fumes from the plant will occasionally make their way to your yard/home/family.
5. What About the Other Utilities?
Unlike cities where power is quickly restored when it goes out, rural areas can be left in the dark for days. Ask potential neighbors how long they’ve gone without power. If it’s excessive, you’ll certainly need to invest in a backup generator.
It’s critically important to consider how accessible your property is in winter. Rural areas are the last to be plowed or salted, which results in dangerous winter driving conditions. If you expect winters to be bad, budget for a truck or SUV, or at the very least invest in a good set of snow tires.
Trash pickup also will not go door-to-door for rural homes. Find out where the nearest dump site is from your property. In some cases, you can get permission to burn your trash, though anything toxic will need to be properly disposed of.