June 10, 2022
You’ve found your dream property in the perfect rural setting. Before you run out and make an offer, make sure you consider these tips to improve your buying experience as you realize your rural dreams.
Regardless of where you buy, real estate has always been about location, location, location and rural properties and communities are the same. Be sure to look at more than just the views. Drive around the area and assess the quality of the roads, the overall area, property quality and types of businesses. Ask yourself, are you ready to embrace the rural lifestyle and all that comes with it including the views and smells of animals, wide open spaces, and road sharing with tractors. If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track!
- Property Mechanicals
Unlike urban property, rural properties usually don’t have municipal services. Rural properties likely have private well and septic systems and may not have local trash pickup or recycling. Each of these things is at the owner’s expense. You will need to ask questions about the depth and quality of the well and water, the age and maintenance of the septic system, as well as its size for future additions. It’s important to check quality of cellular service and broadband access. Also, ask about the frequency and duration of power outages. Depending on the severity of the outage, rural areas can be one of the last restored when the power goes out.
- Property Infrastructure & Inclusions
Every real estate transaction has a list of items that convey with the property, as well as condition reports. On a rural property, the checklist may be longer than the home itself as you will need to evaluate the condition of the fences, outbuildings and even soil quality reports. You also need to ask about things like gates, portable sheds, panels and chutes, feeders and miscellaneous equipment to understand what items might convey with the property.
- Property Maintenance
Having acreage is often a positive draw to buying a home in a rural area. When considering how much acreage, take a moment to think through any maintenance costs. This may include maintenance of wells, septic systems, keeping pastures and fence lines mowed, and the possible need to add barns or storage buildings. Private roads, larger acreages and fence line maintenance also may require additional tools and equipment. Be sure to budget for these extra costs, finance equipment, or hire local help.
- Environmental Issues & Zoning
Many rural newcomers think that rural living means less rules or government oversight than urban living. While some of that may be true, we must all continue to be good stewards of the land by abiding by environmental rules and zoning regulations. Be sure to understand any environmental condition reports related to water quality, runoff and endangered species that might impact your property. Also, be aware of any environmental issues on your property that you may be responsible for cleaning up. Additionally, check the zoning laws for what the property can be used for which varies by county or municipality. Whether you have two acres or 2000 acres there may be zoning regulations that place limits on how you can use the property.
- Work With Experts
All real estate agents and lenders are not created equal. Just like you would pick a real estate agent or a lender that specializes in your urban neighborhood and community, you should also work with a real estate agent and lender who specializes in rural property. Their knowledge of the rural market, agricultural and recreational land values and how to value rural properties and related infrastructure is important to getting the best deal. It’s also important to work with a local insurance agent who specializes in rural properties. Expect that your insurance may be higher as you are farther from first responder services and have more property risk.
- The Local Community
You aren’t just buying a property; you are buying a lifestyle. That lifestyle typically includes your local community and neighbors. What services does the local community have, how far away is it, do you feel a sense of community pride and opportunity that signifies how you will feel living there and how your property will maintain its value?
- Existing Leases & Contracts
Depending on the size and type of acreage of the property you are buying, it is possible that rental agreements, leases or even government contracts may exist for the property. Even shared easements for access roads are not uncommon for rural properties. It is important to understand what legal obligations are in place and the duration or specifications of those contracts along with your future responsibility.
- Know What You Can Afford
As with any move, it’s important to plan for your move. Not just your down payment and mortgage for the rural property, but also taxes, insurance, maintenance, and potential farm business needs. A Farm Credit lender can help you assess your financial lending plan, or you can start by utilizing our Buying Rural Property Checklist.
Your dreams might include the perfect sunrises and sunsets, a little peace and quiet, more space for your hobbies or even a new business. No matter your dreams, Farm Credit is here to help. We work with you to make your financing a breeze. Many of our lenders have lived in the area for years and they know not only the area, but the people that can help make your dreams a reality.