When we were looking into buying acreage, I did research. Tons of research. And guess what. It didn’t really help! Here is a list that will help you when purchasing acreage AND a handy checklist to take with you when property searching.
When we were looking to buy our property, I did research. Tons of research. And guess what. It didn’t really help! I mean, some of it helped, but not a whole lot. Here is a list that will.
This is a checklist of things to check on with your realtor (or yourself) when thinking of purchasing acreage.
Buying Acreage Checklist
Zoning on the Land
What is the land zoned for? Sometimes land may look residential but is only zoned for farming. Sometimes land is zoned residential or farming but when you go to look at it, you realize half of it is basically a scrub oak forest.
Visit the Land
Have you visited the land in person? This may sound like a no-brainer and most sensible people would do this. But sometimes (unfortunately) the pictures of property aren’t super accurate on where it is.
Sometimes if it is a less developed area, the addresses may even be incorrect. Just triple check you are looking at the right piece of land.
Water Rights on the land
Water. It seems like I’m always talking about water! But it’s a big deal if you misunderstand it. I don’t even feel like I understand it and I have tried and tried.
If your land has a water right(s) associated with it (and they are NOT attached to the well that is your main water supply for your home) that should be disclosed with the sale of the property. One water right will cover a certain number of “acre-feet.”
Now, what that really means for how often you can water is something you will need to find out from your water master. Some land can’t have water associated with it because there just isn’t access to a water source.
If you are planning on doing something with your property that needs a lot of water, you will need to find out if you have access to water rights. If the property you have your heart set on doesn’t have water, you may need to rethink your plans.
It is totally possible to still get productivity out of your acreage without water, it just takes more planning and your options become a lot more limited.
Previous Land Use
What was the land used for before? That will determine how you will move forward with whatever plan you have for the place. If it was an alfalfa field and you want pasture, you are going to have to plant. If it was fallow ground and you want to make it productive, you will have to plant. If it was unmanaged, you will have to do major weed control instead of light maintenance.
Along those same lines, what is the land like? Is it smooth? Will it drain well? Is it rocky? Is it sunny? Is there shade available? Are there areas that will be unproductive? These are all things to take into consideration so you can realistically evaluate the amount of work you will need to do to have productive land.
Cleanliness of the Land
Check for garbage. I’m not talking about a soda can here and a wire there. I’m talking about big things like barrels of used oil hidden away in a barn corner. You can stipulate that the seller remove things like this as part of the purchase.
We are trying to get rid of some 55 gallon barrels labeled “used oil” but since we didn’t fill them and don’t know for sure if its used oil, it is proving super difficult. Anything major that you wouldn’t know how to deal with could probably be taken care of in the sale agreement.
The Scope of Work for the Land
Take the amount of work you think the property will be and multiply by 10. Or 20. Ha! But in all seriousness, it will probably be more work than you anticipate.
Consider the tools you will need. Will a tractor be necessary? Do you need a 4-wheeler? Do you need a sprayer of some kind? These probably aren’t things to worry about right away but may be nice to think about so you can plan for the future. And yes, we need a snow plow for our driveway and still don’t have one! Ah.
Property Boundaries on the Land
Know the property boundaries. Know where the markers are and where every line is. There is nothing worse than putting up a fence and having to move it. Also make sure you are aware of any easements onto your property. Sometimes these are necessary for access to water sources or access to additional properties.
What is The Goal?
Lastly, remember your end goal. Any plans you make need to have that in mind. If you want animals but your property isn’t fenced, that is a lot of fencing to purchase and put up. If you want to plant crops but the property is full of rocks and needs worked, that is some serious machinery to make it easier.
Having your end goal in mind will help you have realistic expectations for your land and the timeline you need to accomplish your goals!
And yes, I still land shop all the time. I have a problem!!
If you are looking at a house along with some land, check out this great home-buying checklist to make sure you cover all your bases! Make House Hunting Easier by Creating a Checklist from Essential Home and Garden.
Here are some other links that have some great information:
- Ten Quick Tips for Buying Land in the Country for Investment and Profit
- Buying an Acreage
- What to Ask Before Buying a Rural Property
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Rachel Frampton says
My dad would like to buy an acreage where he may have his house built, which is why he’s currently looking for a real estate agent that may help him locate one. I agree with you that he must have an end-goal and determine whether he would like to have animals around his property so he may have a fence installed. You are also right about the importance of checking if the prospective land is clean enough.
You may have taken a home loan approved after seeing so many properties down the line on a flat you want to buy believing half the job is already done and wishing for a smooth transaction. But this is only the half part of the job done, there are a lot of things remain. The checklist is awesome and definitely help us in reviewing the property. Thank you for sharing.
Another consideration, at least for me, I MUST have access to high-speed internet from a wired source. Cable, DSL. NOT satellite. I do remote work all the time and need that access. That is what gives me the ability to live out in the country.
Yes! A great addition to the list. Thank you!
Kelsey Reynolds says
Thanks for the tips! I’m going go have my husband read this because we are shopping for land. There’s a lot to take into account.
I hope they are helpful!! Don’t hesitate to message me if you have a question. I’ll do my best to help or find out the answer!