Purchasing land in a rural area can have substantial advantages compared to city property counterparts. However, before leaping into a land purchase agreement there are a few things that needs to be considered that are specific to a property that is classified as Rural. There is nothing worse than purchasing a piece of property with the dream to subdivide in the future, only to find out that one house per five acres is allowed, and up to one acre can be deeded to an immediate family member! Or, finding out that you have purchased a piece of property for agricultural use, later to find out that it is only good for classifying it as conservation property because it is unusable.
Understanding needs and requirements for land use before beginning a property search is a must. Rural property can have many different types of restrictions and caveats to it, so it is important to at least have an idea of what the use of the property will be for. Depending on whether the land will be used as primary residential or agricultural development makes a big difference, and sometimes the answer is both so that opens up a different set of considerations. The United States Department of Agricultural Rural Development (USDA) is the keeper of all things rural .
Another important factor to check in to before purchasing rural land is the property classification. Property maps can be located at any tax assessor’s office, and records can be accessed via website in most cases. The number one thing to look for is if and where are the wetlands. This is an imperative step in the property research process. Wetlands are protected, and the protection of certain areas on the property will dramatically impact the use of the land.
Along with wetland identification, flood zones are the next big consideration. Flood zones are a concern to all homeowners because it impacts insurance rates; however, with buying rural property for development flood zones change the game completely. If the property is being used for agricultural purposes, the quality of soil can be affected by poor drainage so there would be extra expenses to amend the property to make it usable. If the property is being used for a future home site, the potential for extensive site preparation to insure that the house is out of the flood zone can increase the cost tremendously. Taking a few minutes to research the ground water table does not require a geologist skills sets. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides maps and trends to help gather the real story about what is going on under the surface .
Purchasing a rural piece of property has great funding advantages through various government programs. Not only that, there are lenders that are specifically allocated to the agricultural sector and these institutions have the inside scoop to the special funding. When shopping for a lender, using an agricultural based lender can open so many options up and provide significant savings in the long run. Various loans and grants are available for rural purchases that are not offered for regular residential and commercial types of projects. The USDA is the primary resource to finding what programs are available, and contacting no less than three agricultural lenders for comparisons is a great start to finding the best financial agreement.
The number one way to get as much information as possible about a property before you buy it is to talk to the locals! Rural properties usually have a low population density and everybody knows everybody. The “dirt man” that everyone uses will have more knowledge about the land than any record or filing out there. Or, the “country store lady” that runs the corner store will know the history of the people that use to own it and why they are selling it—and all the other details that come along with rural living if you know what I mean.