A few weeks ago I began my story of the property Hubby and I found for our potential Forever Farm. [To see Part 1, click here.] While looking for Homestead properties and discussing what was important to us, we compiled a list of 17 important topics to consider when looking for your forever home. Below is a continuation from that list.
4. Is The Property Off of a Paved Road or Dirt?
There are several reasons to take this into consideration. If the road your future homestead lives on is not managed by the county, snow can become a real hassle. Dirt roads are also harder on vehicles and vehicle maintenance.
Between pot-holes and dust, dirt roads will take a toll on vehicle suspension and rust. In addition to the dust on your vehicles, dust gets kicked up and can coat your house, your clothes, every inch of your farm. It can be a HUGE pain. However, dirt roads also slow down traffic and make it safer for kids, pets and livestock that might happen to wander out. Just things to consider!
5. Type of Soil
While the type of soil on your new farm may not be readily available information that your Realtor will know, it is very easy to look up the information online. Simply type in the address to http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/WebSoilSurvey.aspx to see a soil survey (click on the Soil Map Tab).
The majority of the land on the property we are considering is classified as silty loam. I honestly had no idea what that meant, but a quick Google search told us it was excellent for gardening. Seeing the soil survey also showed us a flood plain that wasn’t disclosed by the Realtor.
These types of concerns will tell you where you can or cannot build a structure, or if your property contains a soil type that is not conducive to your Homesteading plans.
6. Distance From Stores, Friends and Family
We all dream of being far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, however, it’s nearly impossible to be completely removed. Before even looking for your homesteading property, take into consideration how far away from modern conveniences you want to be.
If your kid misses the school bus, or wants to participate in sports and after-school activities, how far will you have to drive? If you’re in the middle of a recipe and realize you’re missing a key ingredient, will you have to throw it all away, or can you run to the store? Will you have to sacrifice a social life because your friends and family are too far away to visit? Or is being too far away from family a good thing?
Your answers to these questions will be unique and individual, but should be considered before you invest in a property.
7. Property Tax
The property tax rate can be assessed from the local county government offices. If you’re lucky, it will be available online. You may have budgeted for a monthly mortgage, but did you take into account the property taxes? Are there multiple taxes? Will you have to pay a county tax, as well as a city or parish tax? Is the property assessment up to date? If it was assessed years ago, you could end up paying a vastly different amount (higher or lower) depending on a current assessment.
The property we’re looking at is broken into three separate segments: 1. Homesite, 2. Wooded, and 3. Flood Pain. Each is taxed at a different rate.
8. Are There Cell Towers or Electrical Lines Nearby?
Having a cell phone tower or electrical lines on or near your property can have both its pros and cons. Because they can be an eyesore, you may be able to get the property for less than it would be worth otherwise, and many electrical companies will offer you free or discounted service for the use of your land.
However, Electromagnetic Fields that these power lines can give off can disrupt sleep patterns and make people irritable. A quick Google search can give you all of the adverse symptoms to exposure to these EMFs.
In my personal experience, I would never want large powerlines on my property. I used to work at an equine hospital that had nearly 20 horses, all from one farm, come in with colic. After triaging the horses, we found they were all severely dehydrated. It took weeks of investigation, but the cause was traced to electrical lines on the property emitting stray electricity through the ground and to the metal water troughs. While the horses weren’t exactly being electrocuted, they were receiving enough of a zap every time they went to drink water, that they began simply not drinking. While this may be a freak incident, it was enough to deter me.
9. Are There Existing Outbuildings or Suitable Location for Future Outbuildings?
Existing outbuildings can be a blessing if they’re well-built and suit your needs. What good is a calving shed, if you never plan on having livestock? It just becomes one more building to maintain or neglect. Many outbuildings can be adapted or modified to fit your needs, but every extra building will need to be insured and maintained.
This is a case of wanting to have the perfect number – enough outbuildings to serve your purpose, but nothing more. If your property does not come with outbuildings, are there suitable locations for them to be built in the future? Is the land flat enough, or stable enough? Will your outbuildings need running water or electricity?
10. Do You Have Property Access Rights?
Last year my sister-in-law and her husband had found the perfect property for them to build their new home. It was just the right size, in the perfect location, and at a great price! Unfortunately, the property was part of a larger parcel that the neighbor had owned, but foreclosed on. That neighbor, who was bitter against the bank, owned all of the access rights to the property my sister-in-law wanted to buy and was not likely to allow anyone to put in a driveway to the foreclosed property.
It may seem like a simple thing, but if your neighbor wants to be difficult about it, he can be.