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Rural Property Appraisals

Appraisals are an important step in the homebuying process. But when it comes to appraising farmland, acreages or residences in rural communities, there is often more to the valuation checklist than what meets the eye.

As a portfolio lender that specializes in financing homes in the country and rural communities, FCSAmerica has the experience and expertise to help you make informed decisions about your rural property purchase. Jeannie Fetrow, Farm Credit Services of America real estate and chattel appraiser, shares five rural property features to consider when buying or building in the country. 

Lot size and land use:  Because no two rural properties are the same, rural property appraisers utilize area sales, market data and interviews with other real estate experts to determine whether each feature adds value or has undesirable qualities.

“One of the first things we look at when evaluating a rural property is the size of the lot and whether there is excess land that can be utilized for other purposes such as pastureland, cropland or recreational purposes,” Fetrow says.

“Different lenders have different standards concerning lot size and land use. Although it is an industry standard to base lending eligibility on whether the property is residential, agricultural or recreational, FCSAmerica provides country home loan financing for any rural property regardless of how the land is classified.”

Location and proximity to other properties:  Moving to the country can sometimes mean living within proximity to various types and sizes of livestock facilities. Land valuation experts recognize that in some rural areas, this may be a deterrent for homebuyers.

“Other external factors rural property appraisers take into account include distance to major roadways as well as proximity to metro areas that can provide employment and education opportunities, medical services, shopping and recreational amenities,” Fetrow says. 

 Water sources and septic systems:  A third area assessed by rural property appraisers includes the presence of adequate water sources and a working septic system. While these costly components should always be examined by a professional during a home inspection prior to the appraisal, Fetrow says it’s critical to inquire about their functionality and availability.

“In addition to determining whether the primary residence is supported by a rural water system or private well, appraisers also verify whether water is being supplied to other external structures on the property such as livestock facilities. We also ask questions concerning the septic system to ensure it is up to code. Appraised value assumes these services are working as they should.”

Outbuildings:  Outbuildings are another factor that can contribute significant value to rural properties. According to Fetrow, determing whether an outbuilding is an improvement or detriment to the property requires analysis of its condition and potential uses.

“A few important factors to take into consideration include the age, quality and the highest and best use of the outbuildings. For example, rural property owners may rent out oversized machine sheds for camper or boat storage or even as additional machinery storage for farmers in the surrounding area.” 

Cost of maintenance and repairs:  Fetrow says many homebuyers tend to overlook the maintenance and repair costs associated with living in the country.

“Along with a thorough assessment of water sources and the septic system, it’s important to have home inspections completed by a professional in all major components of a dwelling such as the foundation, plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical and roofing. Similarly, property inspections can also identify costs associated with necessary repairs, upkeep or potential removal of outbuildings.”

Having an accurate indication of what factors determine what your rural property is worth protects your interests as a homebuyer. Click here for more information on buying or building in the country.


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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.