If you prefer country roads to city roads and large lots versus small, you may be better suited to a rural property rather than a city home. While a home is a home, there are certain things you’ll need to consider when buying a rural property versus a city home.
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Chances are that you aren’t going to get city water when you buy a rural property. Instead, your water supply will likely be from a well. The USDA (if you use this form of financing) will require that the appraiser certify that the water supply is healthy and sufficient, but you know what to expect.
Most importantly, you should have the water tested. You need to know if the water is safe. Having the water tested will let you know if there are any dangers in the water, such as chemicals, minerals, or even radon.
The Septic System
The septic system should be in good working order as well as adequate for the size of the home. Think of the number of people that will live in the home and make sure the septic system is adequate. Also, keep in mind any expansion you plan to do in the future. Your septic system may need to be changed accordingly if it has reached capacity.
Unlike city homeowners, you won’t have access to regular trash removal. It’s on you to get rid of the trash in your home. Talk to the seller and/or realtor about where the closest dumpsite is to the home. If there isn’t a dumpsite nearby, you may need to burn the trash yourself – again something you’ll want to know ahead of time.
Access to the Home
If you use USDA financing to purchase the rural property, you’ll need year-round access to the home. Don’t just assume if there’s a road that you are in the clear. Find out who owns that road. Is it private? If so, guess who is responsible for at least a part of the maintenance? That’s right – it becomes your responsibility. This could add to your annual expenses quite a bit, so make sure that you are aware of the costs beforehand.
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Another factor to consider regarding access to the property is how you will manage in the winter. Is there a plow service that comes through the area? If there isn’t, you may still be able to drive it, but you’ll have to properly prepare your vehicle and possibly even the road for treacherous conditions.
Understanding the Property Lines
It’s easy to misunderstand the property lines with a rural property. Land is usually bigger and many people just assume all of the property belongs to them. Without an official survey, you don’t know the actual property lines. While a survey can be costly, it’s well worth every penny so that you know your boundary lines without a doubt.
Knowing the Area
Again, just because it’s a rural area, doesn’t mean that you won’t be bothered by your neighbor’s habits. Try to visit the area several times at different times of the day and different days of the week. Also, ask the sellers about the neighbors. What are their habits? Do they farm? Do they hunt? Do they have animals? You’ll want to know these things before you purchase the property.
The Condition of the Property
Of course, like any property, rural or not, you need to know the condition of the property. If you use USDA financing, the home will need to pass the USDA minimum property requirements. It must also be a ‘modest home’ for the area.
If there are major issues with the home, you’ll need to ask the seller to fix the issues before the USDA will allow financing. An inspection is also a great way for you to tell the condition of the property beyond what the USDA requires. The inspector can tell you of any impending issues that may cause you to change your mind or at least help you understand the financial undertaking the home requires.
Carefully evaluating a rural property is important before deciding to buy it. Using a licensed realtor that’s used to dealing with rural homes is the best way to make sure that you enter into a positive transaction and have your happily ever after in your new rural home.