Many folks living in cities and suburbs are nurturing a dream deep within them, one that involves leaving behind the hustle and bustle of urban life and venturing into the serene countryside. They yearn for a quaint farmhouse or a cozy cabin nestled amidst the trees, a place they can truly call their own, and where the tranquil pace of life reigns supreme.
This dream has become even more pronounced in recent times, fueled in part by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak compelled society to rethink the way we work and interact. Suddenly, remote work became the norm, with crowded offices giving way to private home offices. This shift in the working landscape has intensified the desire for isolation and personal space, adding a new sense of urgency to the rural exodus.
Across the nation, real estate agents are witnessing a surge in the sale of rural properties, ranging from expansive stretches of untouched land to fully developed homesteads. This trend has caught the attention of demographers who are predicting a revival in small-scale farming and a much-needed upgrade to rural infrastructure, particularly in the realm of internet connectivity.
Vacant rural properties, which had long sat idle and overlooked, are now vanishing from the market at an astonishing pace. People are bidding farewell to urban life in ever-growing numbers, and these countryside treasures are being snapped up quicker than one can imagine. While the market hasn’t reached a state of panic, it’s safe to say that rural properties don’t stay unsold for long.
This trend isn’t limited to a particular region; it’s happening all around the country. Buyers are often taking the plunge sight unseen, or basing their decisions on nothing more than a handful of photographs. The allure of rural life, with its promises of tranquility and space, is drawing many towards the countryside, creating a rural renaissance of sorts.
Ask the right questions
Embarking on the quest to find your ideal rural property is a journey that demands more than just a cursory glance. It requires a thorough examination and the right set of inquiries to make informed decisions. Let’s emphasize this point: due diligence is your compass in this venture, and it’s absolutely crucial.
Now, let’s talk about those essential questions that you must have answers to, even if a hands-on inspection isn’t immediately possible. Sellers often won’t offer critical information unless prompted with specific queries tailored to your needs.
The very first question aligns with the age-old realtor mantra: location, location, location. But it’s not about the spot on the map; it’s about understanding its relationship to roads, utilities, services, and supplies. If visiting the property in person is challenging – which can be the case, as some sellers are understandably wary of strangers in their homes – then embrace the wonders of technology. Dive deep into Google Maps, activate the “terrain” feature, and scrutinize the property meticulously.
Now, the interrogative process begins:
Drainage and Water: Begin by understanding the property’s drainage patterns. How does water flow across the land? Is it prone to flooding? Investigate the type of soil – is it sandy, silty, or clay-rich? This knowledge can significantly impact future plans.
Orientation: Discover the cardinal directions. Where does north lie? This knowledge can influence various aspects of daily life, from gardening to home design.
Utilities and Infrastructure: Unearth the location of utility lines, septic leads, and sewer hookups. Are they readily accessible, or will significant work be needed?
Natural Environment: Delve into the dominant plant cover on the property. This knowledge not only impacts aesthetics but also the potential for gardening or farming.
Sunlight: Identify the sunniest areas throughout the changing seasons. This is crucial for planning gardens and solar energy setups.
Sustainability: Assess whether the property can sustain your family’s needs. Can you cultivate enough food to supplement, if not fully sustain, your diet?
As you embark on your rural property search armed with these questions, remember that knowledge is your most potent ally. It’s through these inquiries and meticulous research that you’ll uncover the hidden gems and potential pitfalls of your rural oasis, setting the stage for your dream property to become a reality.
Raw vs. Developed Land: Decisions for your country home
When it comes to choosing between raw, untouched land and ready-made properties, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The preference for raw land, especially among those with the means to craft their dream home, is evident. Building a custom residence, tailored to your exact specifications, is a thrilling prospect. However, in the excitement of envisioning your dream home, it’s crucial to consider your long-term plans.
Are you planning to settle permanently in this new abode, or is it a stepping stone to another chapter in your life? Will you eventually sell and return to city life, or perhaps seek the warmth of the Sunbelt if your property currently resides in the chill of Vermont or North Dakota? If lifelong residence is your vision, you must gaze into the future, contemplating not only your current desires but also the evolving needs that time may bring.
Today, you may covet a gourmet six-burner stove and a loft study, but two decades down the road, you might yearn for wider hallways that can accommodate a wheelchair and all your essential rooms conveniently located on a single floor. Many astute realtors advise future-thinking and adherence to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. These include considerations like installing bathtub bars, stair lifts, and accessible entrances. It’s not just about planning for today; it’s about constructing a home that adapts gracefully to your changing requirements, a decision that proves far more economical than retrofitting later on.
The allure of buying raw land and crafting your vision is undeniable. Yet, hidden costs can quickly elevate the purchase price. Drilling a well, for instance, can set you back around $15,000 in temperate regions, while in arid or mountainous areas, this cost can easily triple or quadruple. Installing a septic tank is another expense, and the type of tank will be subject to county regulations. Some areas now mandate advanced systems like sand filters or peat-moss setups, which for a standard three-bedroom installation can soar to $25,000. Even a traditional septic tank ranges from $10,000 to $15,000.
Moreover, there are infrastructure expenses to reckon with, such as bringing electricity to the property or the costs associated with road construction and land clearing for building. These expenses can swiftly escalate, turning what seemed like a bargain into a substantial investment.
In many cases, it’s wiser to explore existing properties with pre-installed infrastructure like septic tanks and wells. Even if the house doesn’t align perfectly with your vision, you have the option to renovate or rebuild, saving substantial sums on essential infrastructure costs. In the end, the choice between raw and developed land hinges on your long-term plans, your budget, and your willingness to navigate the intricacies of property development.
In the vast expanse of the American West, an old adage holds true: there are three things that often spark disputes among people—fences, cattle, and water. This saying is a testament to the critical role water plays in regions characterized by arid climates and scarce water resources. Water law, particularly in dry Western states, often defies what might seem like common sense. Consequently, misunderstandings and conflicts between neighbors can easily arise.
Before you set your sights on purchasing a piece of property, especially in these water-scarce regions, it’s essential to delve into the intricate realm of water rights. Consulting with a local attorney well-versed in water law is more than just a recommendation; it’s a critical step to safeguard your investment and peace of mind.
Here’s why understanding water rights is paramount:
Ownership of Water Sources: The first question to ask is whether you own the well on your property outright, or if it’s shared through a prior agreement. In many cases, water sources may not be solely owned but might be part of a shared system involving neighboring properties. Knowing the specifics of this arrangement is essential to avoid future conflicts.
Water Rights Allocation: Water rights in the United States are often determined by a complex system of allocation that can be traced back to historical usage and legal precedents. These rights can be senior or junior, meaning some have priority access to water over others. Understanding your property’s water rights is crucial, as it dictates your legal entitlement to use the available water resources.
Regulations and Restrictions: Water laws can vary significantly from state to state and even within regions of the same state. Regulations regarding water use, conservation, and well drilling are subject to change and can impact your ability to develop your property as desired. Staying informed about these regulations is vital to avoid potential legal issues down the line.
Water Availability: The availability of water can be unpredictable in arid regions. Conducting a thorough assessment of your property’s water supply, including well depth and historical water levels, is essential for making informed decisions about land use and development.
Environmental Impact: Water usage and management can have significant environmental consequences, particularly in fragile ecosystems. Being aware of your water rights and responsibilities can help you make environmentally conscious choices on your property.
Potential for Future Disputes: Failing to clarify water rights and usage agreements with neighbors can lead to disputes that may escalate over time. Proactively addressing these issues can help maintain positive relationships with your community.
Water rights are a critical aspect of property ownership in regions where water is a scarce and valuable resource. Consulting with legal experts and conducting due diligence regarding water rights and usage agreements is a prudent and necessary step when considering property purchase or development. By understanding and respecting these legal and environmental considerations, you can enjoy your property while avoiding potential conflicts and legal entanglements.
Property boundaries, often marked by fences and lines, can be a source of unexpected surprises, especially on older properties. These markers may not always align with the precise locations determined by contemporary property surveys. To safeguard your property investment and avoid potential disputes with neighbors, a thorough understanding of your property lines is essential.
Here’s why recent property surveys matter and how they can impact your property ownership:
Property Survey Necessity: One of the first questions to ask is whether you possess an up-to-date survey map of your property, ideally conducted within the last decade. If not, it is highly advisable to engage the services of a qualified surveyor. Recent surveys hold preference over older ones due to advancements in technology, such as satellite imagery and improved cartographic methods, which enhance the precision and reliability of modern surveys.
Boundary Discrepancies: The case of your property bordering a nursery, with a fence that did not accurately represent the true boundary, underscores the significance of modern surveys. These discrepancies can result in encroachments, where neighboring properties inadvertently extend onto your land. Such encroachments can have legal implications and impact your property’s value.
Easements and Legal Clarifications: When property boundaries are unclear or disputed, it’s essential to seek legal counsel. Easements, like the one you granted to the nursery, can provide a legal framework for shared use of land, but it’s crucial to establish and document these agreements accurately. An experienced attorney can help ensure that both parties recognize and acknowledge the correct property lines.
Historical Assumptions: As in your case, previous generations often relied on existing fences and property lines as the definitive markers. However, these assumptions can be incorrect. Employing a surveyor can unveil any discrepancies and clarify the true property boundaries.
Property Value Protection: Understanding and securing your property lines is not just about resolving disputes; it also safeguards your property’s value. Knowing the precise extent of your land can influence its development potential and resale value.
Neighbor Relations: Property boundary disputes can strain relationships with neighbors. Engaging in a collaborative and informed manner, with the guidance of professionals like surveyors and attorneys, can help maintain positive neighborly relations.
The alignment of property lines with fences and historical markers is not always guaranteed. To ensure your property rights and protect your investment, it’s advisable to obtain a recent property survey conducted by a qualified surveyor.
Modern surveys, aided by advanced technology, provide a more accurate representation of property boundaries and can help prevent unexpected complications and disputes. By addressing these considerations, you can enjoy your property with confidence and peace of mind.
The critters you can call your own on your property are subject to a patchwork quilt of county and local regulations that can sometimes feel bewildering. These rules can be as diverse as the animals they govern. Here’s a closer look at the considerations regarding animals on your property, including the intricacies that often abound in these regulations:
Local Animal Regulations: Before you start your own personal animal kingdom, it’s imperative to understand your local animal regulations. These rules can vary significantly from one place to another, and they dictate what types of animals you’re allowed to keep and under what conditions. County authorities are often the best source for detailed information.
Animal Variety: Regulations often dictate the types of animals you can have on your property. For instance, in some areas, you might be permitted to keep cows but not pigs. Ducks could be perfectly fine, while chickens are strictly forbidden in other locales. Understanding these nuances is crucial to avoid potential legal issues.
Breed-Specific Regulations: In certain counties across the country, you may encounter breed-specific regulations that allow some dog breeds while banning others. For example, you might be able to have a German shepherd but not a Staffordshire terrier or mastiff. These regulations are often put in place due to concerns related to safety or public perception.
Proximity to Neighbors: If your property is situated in close proximity to residential developments or neighboring homes, you should be prepared for potential noise complaints, especially if you keep animals like roosters that can be rather vocal. It’s essential to be mindful of your neighbors and adhere to local noise ordinances.
Consult Authorities: When in doubt, reach out to county authorities or local animal control agencies. They can provide valuable insights into the specific regulations governing your area. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or schedule a meeting to ensure you are fully informed about what is permissible on your property.
Legal Disputes: Unfortunately, disputes over animals can escalate quickly, leading to legal battles. Understanding and abiding by local regulations can help you avoid such conflicts, as these rules are often designed to address common concerns and maintain harmony within the community.
When it comes to keeping animals on your property, knowledge of local regulations is your greatest asset. These regulations can be intricate and differ significantly from place to place, reflecting the diverse needs and perspectives of various communities. To ensure you stay within the boundaries of the law and maintain amicable relations with your neighbors, it’s crucial to do your research, consult local authorities, and adhere to the rules governing your specific location. By doing so, you can enjoy your furry, feathered, or hoofed companions without any unexpected legal wrangles.
When it comes to making improvements on your property, whether it’s expanding your living space or reconstructing a chicken coop, understanding building codes and permits is crucial. While building codes exhibit a degree of consistency nationwide, the intricacies of these rules can vary significantly from one location to another. Here’s an exploration of the considerations regarding building codes and permits:
Permit Requirements: The first question you should ask when planning property improvements is whether you need a permit. Building codes dictate when a permit is necessary, and these requirements are often influenced by the size and nature of the project. For instance, in your case, a workshop or structure exceeding 200 square feet required a permit in your county.
Consistency and Variation: Building codes do exhibit some degree of uniformity across the country, guided by national standards such as the International Building Code (IBC). However, local jurisdictions often have the authority to adapt these codes to meet their specific needs. Therefore, the specific rules governing your property improvements can differ based on where you live.
Permitting Process: Understanding the permitting process is essential. This typically involves submitting detailed plans and specifications to the local building department, which will review your project for compliance with safety and zoning regulations. Failing to obtain the necessary permits can lead to legal complications and even demolition orders in severe cases.
Contractor Selection: If you’re not a master builder yourself, the importance of hiring licensed, bonded, and insured contractors cannot be overstated. While it may incur higher costs upfront, it’s a safeguard against potential legal and financial woes down the road. An experienced contractor will ensure that your project complies with all relevant building codes and regulations.
Risk Mitigation: Consider the financial perspective when weighing the cost of hiring professionals versus the risk of a lawsuit resulting from subpar construction. Legal disputes can be costly and time-consuming, and a builder who hasn’t covered the legal bases can leave you vulnerable.
Consulting Local Authorities: If you have questions about building codes or permitting, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local building department or zoning office. They can provide guidance and clarify any doubts you may have about your specific project.
Comprehending building codes and permit requirements is essential when undertaking property improvements. While some standards are consistent nationwide, the nuances often differ depending on your location.
To avoid legal complications and ensure the safety and integrity of your project, it’s vital to adhere to local regulations, secure the necessary permits, and enlist the expertise of licensed contractors. By doing so, you can transform your property while minimizing the risk of costly legal entanglements.
- Is the property’s title clear?
- Are there records of septic tank and well maintenance?
- Are there any easement agreements that benefit neighboring properties?
- What are the property’s tax implications, especially related to agricultural activities?
- Can you sell produce or products from your property?
- Is there a need for a permit to dispose of household garbage?
- Is internet service available?
- What’s the length of the growing season?
- What’s the property’s ideal use: farming, forestry, or recreation?
Creating a checklist of these crucial details is essential before making a payment. Don’t be disheartened by the research; consider it an investment in your dream home, a peaceful haven away from the crowds, and closer to the serenity you seek.
Stephen Harris has written this article for Prepper’s Will.
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