COMMON GROUND BLOG

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Dreaming of a Country Home? What You Need to Know Before Buying or Building

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.

Evaluating a farm or acreage doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Below is a checklist to help you avoid potential rural property pitfalls.

1. Water Sources

water source
    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

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
    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
    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

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

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

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

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

electricity
    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.

To learn more about country home financing, contact one of our local offices at 800-884-3276.

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FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.