One of my favorite things to do is search for land for those people who want to get back to the simple life. Homesteading and farming can be extremely rewarding but it can be a challenge to find the right place to do it. Land is a resource that no one is making anymore and you have to be careful that a property can fit your needs before you buy it. If you are considering farming or homesteading you have some very specific needs. Here are a few things to look for in land for homesteading or farming.
What resources you need depends on what activities you intend to use the land for but for a broad group of activities you will want some open field space, water source, and some wooded areas. If you intend to garden or raise animals you will need grazing areas, garden areas, and water for both the animals and plants. The shade areas and timber resources provided by the wooded areas can be essential as well. Ideally you want a mix of open space and wooded areas with natural water sources like creeks, rivers, or ponds.
If the land doesn’t have one necessary resource it can be developed but that entails an additional cost or time. Forest areas can be planted or cleared as needed and you can drill a well for water but again there is additional cost in both money and time.
I like to observe and note what trees and plants are currently growing on the property as often they can show signs of what the soil may be like. For example juniper trees can grow in rock and clay quite well. If you see a lot of juniper you can bet there’s rock underneath! Locust trees are a nitrogen fixer (legume) and can indicate a lack of nitrogen in the soil. These don’t necessarily rule out the land but they do make you aware of what you might be getting into.
Examine the Restrictions Placed on the Land
One of the most overlooked things about purchasing land is what are you actually allowed to do with it? You don’t have to be in a neighborhood with an HOA to have restrictions. Any piece of land can have enforceable restrictions that limit your activities. When farms get sold or parceled out often the original owner has an idea of what they don’t want to see happen on the land. One frequent example of a restriction is “no poultry and swine.” This is usually added to prevent large scale farms from setting up chicken/swine production facilities. Unfortunately the way it is worded can even stop a homesteader from being allowed to raise a few egg layers.
Restrictions can and often do go beyond the animals and can limit the number of homes that can be built on the property, how and if the land can be further subdivided, how many and what kind of additional outbuildings you are allowed to build, what size of home you have to build, and much more. Before making an offer on land make sure that any deed restrictions are acceptable. Sometimes you can get restrictions changed but don’t count your chickens on that one!
Survey – IMPORTANT
Look for a recent survey of the property. Don’t just accept the description that is on the deed, especially if it is one of those old survey descriptions that says something like “from big rock on NW corner 100’ W to sycamore tree.” You want a staked and pinned survey that tells you exactly what you are buying. If you ever want to fence in areas of your land you will want to know where to put the fence. Depending on how a survey is situated you may adjust the operation of the whole farm!
If there hasn’t been a recent survey then either ask for one from the sellers or have it done yourself before closing and make it contingent upon an acceptable survey. Knowing what you are buying is important.
My next post will be Part 2 of What to What to Look for in Land for Homesteading and Farming and will cover more of the building related issues for farming and homesteading!
Author: Dave Townsend – Realtor®
Keller Williams Realty