Are you looking for that country property that has the potential to turn into a magazine cover worthy, beautiful country estate with a pond, white picket fences and everything else you can imagine? You really can turn that dream into reality, but if you haven’t had experience living on more than a small city lot, here are some things to think about as you start your search:
Location, Location, Location. Even in the county, some locations aren’t as desirable as others. When looking at country property, you still should consider distance to grocery stores, hospitals and other needed services. In addition, look at the neighboring properties and see what types of homes are there and get a feel for the type of people that could be your neighbors. You probably don’t want to be next to properties that have a lot of old junk cars in the pastures or a lot of run down buildings. There are times that you will rely heavily on your neighbors and you want them to be the kind of people that are willing to step up and help when needed. The topography and other features are important as well. Everyone likes some trees and granite outcroppings but you don’t want to be on property that is too steep for livestock, orchards or even a simple garden. Flat land is great for crops, but most people don’t like a property without and trees or variation. Critically look at the property and think about the pros and the cons.
Water. Water is perhaps the most important thing for a country property. Good water and an abundance of water can add tremendous value to a property and allow you many options in further developing it the way you want it. Lack of water is a huge problem. When looking at country property, you will want to consider good output and quality of water for your domestic well. Having at least some irrigation water is also super important. In our area, irrigation water rights are through NID (Nevada Irrigation District) or PCWA (Placer County Water Agency). Depending on what you are doing with the property (how many people live there, if you have livestock, if you have orchards or crops etc.) your water usage and needs can range dramatically. Make sure you have enough water for your needs and enough that will make your property good for resale. Get a well test (output and potability) and check with the irrigation company to determine amount (measured in miner’s inches).
Property lines. Make sure that part of your deal is asking the seller to pay to have a 3rd party survey that clearly marks the property lines. It isn’t uncommon to see some variance between what a seller thinks the lines are and what they actually are. In addition, find out if there are any easements (road, utility, water) that could affect your property. You may also want to research if a property split would be possible that could add value in the future.
Cost of ownership. Owning a country property can involve some costs that you wouldn’t have in the city. Maintenance to your well(s) and septic system are just a couple examples. Depending on where you are, you may be required to carry extra fire insurance and your policy premiums might be higher. Due to the size of the property, other regular upkeep and maintenance can be higher than you would expect. If you have livestock, there are additional expenses you will incur. When living in the country, you will have to dedicate more time and money to the upkeep of your property than you would in town.
Other things to think about. Many times there are out-buildings or other structures (I’ve even seen ponds) that have been built or created without the proper permits. These should be disclosed, but it is worthwhile checking permits so it doesn’t cause problems for you in the future. Most times it isn’t a big deal, but is something you should be aware of. Also, be specific in asking about what is included (or what you want included) in the deal. Many times I have written deals that include tractors, round pens or other items that are considered personal property.
Country living is great and I don’t want to deter anyone that has the dream of that perfect home in the country. Placer County is a great area to find country property that is close to everything, but still out far enough to be “country”. It is important to educate yourself on country property and find the right professional that can lead you through the steps and help you make sure you are making a good decision and great investment. Call me if you have any questions about living in the country or if you want to start your search for your dream home.