BUYING rural land to build a country lifestyle for yourself requires more specialised knowledge compared to purchasing a residential property.
If you buy an established rural property with an existing house and other structural improvements then a thorough expert inspection of each is recommended – just as you would if buying a residential property in a metropolitan area.
One of the challenges confronting people looking to purchase a rural property is to find out if the sale price is a reasonable figure.
You can research the value of a rural property in a few different ways.
One is to choose the area you wish to buy land and then monitor the asking prices of similar district properties and compare the types of improvements built on each.
As the turnover of rural property is not as frequent as metropolitan or suburban house sales you will need to be patient to track this information.
If you find the sale price of a bare block of land in a rural area you want to live then you are in luck as this figure will allow you to calculate a base figure per acre or hectare to use to compare the values of other properties with, or without, buildings.
Another step to consider is to look for a commercial database of sold prices of rural properties in the area you are interested in.
In Australia there are private companies that collect property sales and record rural property sales results in databases. These are commercial operations so trawl the Net and see what rural property sales research websites you can find.
Government departments in Australia record property sales results so this is another avenue to explore to research rural property sales results.
There are also a number of other practical matters to be aware of when purchasing rural land to build on as previous uses could have affected the land significantly.
Land that has been used to graze sheep can present the unsuspecting buyer with weeds they never new existed.
In winter inspecting a property grazed by sheep may present as land with short grass and sheep. In spring the same ground could turn into land with metre high weeds and grass hiding the same sheep.
Livestock will try to eat virtually anything to stay warm and so weeds and plant seeds can get excreted right across a property.
It could take years to control a weed-infested property especially if you are against using herbicides or if the ground gets saturated.
If you intend grazing livestock then think about getting a block of land that has high and low country.
One advantage of having higher and lower paddocks is if floods occur then you have got somewhere to put stock. A high point on your land offers more wide ranging views too.
In summer lower country with some strategically located mature shade trees can offer stock some comfortable places to camp.
In Australia giant red gums growing on rural land indicates an abundant source of water is occasionally available on that land.
Red gums need plenty of water to survive whether it is flood water or subterranean. So if you see mature red gums thriving on a block of land you know this is a property where plenty of water is going to occur above or below ground sooner or later.
Tree plantations in strategic spots across a rural property are beneficial for the land and stock. Mature trees located to deflect prevailing harsh wind and weather will improve growing conditions on a rural property.
When you purchase a property in the country do what the early Australian pioneers did – camp on it for all four seasons before you choose where to build any structures.
After you have owned your land for a while you will get to know the prevailing wind directions, different soil types, identify boggy ground and springs and learn if any other natural phenomenon occurs on your new property.
You can then get a reasonable idea on where to build sheds, form laneways, situate rainwater tanks, dig dams and locate essential services such as underground power cables.
Do you want to buy a property near a forest? Forests are lovely to walk through and admire but when there is a drought they are fuel for bushfires. Forests are also havens for vermin. Foxes, feral cats and dogs kill livestock.
Australian forests can become havens for native fauna and in some areas mobs of kangaroos will compete with livestock for food. Wombats can dig huge burrows on a property and undermine roads.
If you want to live next to or in a forest be aware you will have to protect any trees, vegetables or flowers you plant with suitable fences. In Australia many kangaroos can jump 2 metres vertical from a standing start! One way to keep kangaroo’s and other feral animals at bay is to own a farm dog. They are good alarms and company. Just ensure they are well trained, well fed and always monitored when off the lead as stray dogs in sheep country can be mistaken for wild dogs.
So ask people who are already living in an area you are researching so you can get an idea of what to expect and what to avoid it if you choose.
A parting thought for some of the more senior members of our society who may like the thought of going country.
People inevitably get physically affected as they age.
This should not discourage people who are mature from owning and living in a rural environment.
Instead you should ensure you are within a reasonable driving time to a larger regional centre that can provide various services including health care.