Rural Property Checklist

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What every client needs to know before buying or building in the country.

Sponsored post: Farm Credit Services of America 

Many of us dream about living the country life, but what first-time rural property buyers often overlook are the environmental and regulatory factors that can present unique challenges when considering a home or land purchase.

Farm Credit Services of America, a lender that specializes in financing homes in the country and rural communities, developed the following checklist to help your clients navigate potential rural property pitfalls. 

 

1.    Water sources

Groundwater wells are the primary source for domestic water in rural areas. For properties that already have a well, consider water quality as well as quantity to determine if the water source can sustain the number of occupants living on the site or support future expansion.

           

2.    Drainage

Because drainage depends on soil type, topography and annual precipitation, it is likely a drainage problem will not be limited to a single property. Rural dwellers must work with their neighbors to ensure all water enters and leaves their land without disturbing or damaging nearby properties.

 

3.    Soil quality

Soil quality not only effects drainage, it also impacts compatibility for constructing homes, outbuildings and septic systems. Experts from the local county extension office or conservation district office are two of the best resources for identifying soil types and ratings of a particular land parcel.   

 

4.    Zoning laws

Zoning laws dictate what rural land uses and activities are permitted or prohibited. Prospective buyers can obtain a copy of the applicable zoning map through the local government offices to determine if the property suits their intended needs.

 

5.    Easements

To avoid surprise encounters with the neighbors or a utility company, interested buyers should be aware of all easements that cross their property lines.

 

6.    Access

If the land is only accessible via private property, buyers should confirm there is a permanent easement with a use and maintenance agreement in effect with the neighboring property owners.


 7.    Survey

When in doubt, a professional land survey can help protect a rural investment by defining the legal boundaries of the property and any features it includes such as buildings or fences. It is also a useful tool for verifying plot size, validating price and noting regulatory setbacks.


8.    Outbuildings

A thorough inspection of any existing outbuildings on the property such as sheds, barns or detached garages should be carried out prior to purchase. Roofs, siding and foundation materials should be assessed for wear and soundness.


9.    Electricity, Natural Gas, Propane, Phone

Running energy and services to undeveloped land can be costly and time consuming. Buyers can avoid unexpected development costs by factoring rural utilities into their total investment.

 

With help from the right lenders, your clients can ace financing a home in the country too. 

More Information

Iowa Association of REALTORS

This article was written as a collaboration of IAR Staff members or invited subject matter experts.