7 Things To Consider Before Buying A Home In The Country

Dated: April 9 2018

Views: 314



Chances are good you've probably imagined—at some time or another—what it would be like to give up your daily grind, uproot, and move to the country. Buying a home in the country would mean space for days, Instagram-worthy views, lower crime rates, and fresh air. Sounds idyllic, right?

Well, rural living can be a dream come true. But if you're not adequately prepared for it, it could instead become your own personal country nightmare.

Whether you’re looking to buy a weekend getaway, start a small farm, or simply live a more tranquil life, there’s a lot to consider before making the big move—things that urban and suburban dwellers often take for granted. Keep these in mind before joining the country folks.

1. Why do you want to go rural?

Being tired of traffic isn’t necessarily a good-enough reason to pick up and drastically change your lifestyle. In order to find the best fit for you and your family, nail down your priorities. Then be clear with your real estate agent so he or she can show you properties that meet your needs, suggests Mike Starks, an agent with Re/Max Town and Country in Fredericksburg, TX.

“Are you looking for a big view? Something you could grow peaches on?" he says. "You need to think about whether you need land with no restrictions.

“For example," he adds, "Texas doesn’t care if you raise chickens, but there may be subdivisions with deed restrictions saying no chickens or no cows. So it’s important to know what you need up front.”

2. Newly built homes will be limited, if not nonexistent

Dream of building your house from the ground up? Unlike areas where buyers have their pick of floor plans from developers, people in rural communities have fewer options, says Susan Chaney, lead agent at Keller Williams Realty in Boone, NC.

“With way fewer builders in the high country, that can mean delays of up to two years before you can build," she explains.

And, if you decide not to build, don't expect to find too many (or any) turnkey homes; housing stock in rural areas can often be decades old.

"It’s smarter from a price-per-square-foot perspective to buy a pre-existing home and then renovate," Chaney says. "And it’s better to find a house that’s well-insulated with a recent septic tank install or update to the HVAC system than buying one just because it’s pretty.”

3. Neighborhood info may be sparse

For urban or suburban buyers, it’s easy to troll online for information about neighborhoods and properties. However, going rural means the internet might not be much help, Starks says.

Rely on your agent to give you the skinny on everything—or hook you up with someone who can help.

“Very often I get asked about the electric and the water," he says. "Fortunately, I know the two local guys that handle that in my little county, so I have most of the answers.

“Buyers should be asking their Realtor® about the average price per acre and the type of septic system required, for instance, because finding everything out on your own is difficult,” he adds.

4. You'll need power (and backup power)

Speaking of utilities, power tops the list of things to learn about if you’re moving to the country. If you're buying raw land that doesn’t have an existing house on it, you need to make sure electricity is even available, Starks says.

And don’t forget about backup power, he adds. If power lines fail during a storm, rural customers may be among the last to have electrical power restored. You should have a propane generator and enough firewood to last you for several weeks, if necessary.

5. You'll need to dig into the water system

Many rural properties rely on wells, Starks says, but don't assume there's a water source.

“In our county, we’ve got four aquifers, so you can punch a hole almost anywhere and get water," Starks explains. "However, there are lots of places across the country where you might buy a piece of land without any water under it.”

If there’s already a house with a well and septic system on the property, don’t skimp on inspections, Chaney warns. You’ll want to test your water for bacteria, sediment, nitrates, or chemicals, and ensure the septic system gets a clean bill of health, too.

“I cannot stress [this] enough: Do every inspection you can possibly do,” she says.

6. You could be responsible for road maintenance

Most city dwellers don’t think twice about snow removal, pothole repairs, and street cleaning. But you’ll want to check who’s responsible for the road leading to your potential new home. Surprise! It just might be you, especially if you don’t have neighbors to help offset the cost.

When clients insist they don’t want to live in a neighborhood, Chaney points out the trade-offs.

“Access is a big deal because here, unless you own your own backhoe and tractor, you’re not going to be able to clean off your road like they will if you live in a community,” she says.

“Unless you're living in a town, be prepared to take your own trash away and do your own recycling," she adds. "And often you’ll need a P.O. box, and you may not be able to get deliveries from UPS or FedEx if you’re too far out.”

7. You might qualify for a tax break

Depending on where you want to move or how you plan to use your land, programs may be in place to offset your property taxes, Starks says. For example, buyers looking for a large plot of land in Texas should seek properties with existing agricultural exemptions.

“If you buy a $100,000 piece of property with an agricultural exemption and no house on it, the taxes will probably be about $2 a year. If you don't have the agricultural exemption, it would be about $1,800 a year,” he explains.

Want to live on that land? Starks suggests designating a home site of about a half-acre, and fencing that off. That piece of property will then be taxed at the regular tax rate.


Blog author image

Mark Ross

For Mark Ross, founder of Ross NW Real Estate and professional real estate broker, real estate has always been the career of choice. During his 25+ years in the industry, Mark has gained experience in....

Latest Blog Posts

The Housing Market Is Hot But Not In A Bubble

Existing home sales came in at a whopping 6,850,000, beating estimates with the highest print since 2006. Days on market fell from 36 days to 21 days on a year-over-year basis. Cash buyers remain at

Read More

10 Ways To Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Space All Year

Some believe that the end of summer also marks the final days of enjoying outdoor barbecues, parties, and casual get-togethers. Yet, just by adding a few design elements to your outdoor space, you

Read More

3 Ways To Tap Your Home Equity And Which One Is Right For You

You need to come up with some cash, fast. Maybe you have a leaky roof that desperately needs fixing or you need help paying for your kid's first semester of college. But where do you turn?If you're

Read More

These Pandemic Related Housing And Design Trends Are Not Going Away

Home trends come and go, but social distancing and staying at home have ushered in a new way of life—and some of those changes have spurred home trends that are likely to stick around well past

Read More