Buying vacant land may seem like a fairly straightforward process, but in many cases, it is more complicated than buying an upscale home in a subdivision known for having a strict homeowner's association. There are many unknowns and it is the job of both your buyer's agent and yourself to perform your due diligence before making an offer.
1. Future Development: Do not just assume that because you are out in the middle of nowhere that there will not be future development infringing on your enjoyment of your ranch property. Do not take the seller's word for it either. Ask the city or county about their long term plans for the area surrounding your parcel.
2. Perc Test: A perc test is the nickname for the percolation test used to determine how well the soil drains. If the soil is sandy and drains well, an underground septic tank can be installed. If it does not drain well, an engineered field will need to be used, which simply means that an engineer will have to draw up the plans in order to make everything work well.
3. Road Maintenance: If you live in a city or suburban area, you are used to the local road crew maintaining the roads in the summer and plowing in the winter. In rural areas, this does not always happen. In fact, your ranch property may be off of a 'seasonal' road, which means no one is plowing all that snow in the winter. In other words, if you want to get in or out, you will have to purchase a tractor and do the job yourself.
4. Conservation Area: Your property may overlap with a conservation area, which will limit how you can use the land. The city or county that the land is located in should be able to confirm any conservation areas. If you are still concerned with the details, you can call your state conservation department for clarification.
5. Property Line: Property lines can get hazy over the years, particularly with large parcels. Do not just assume that the seller is right about a creek being the back lot line, especially when creeks can alter their course over the years. Hire a survey company so you know for sure.
6. Easements: Research the previous title or check with county officials to determine any easements. If your property is accessed solely by an easement over someone else's property, you need to make sure that the easement is in writing and cannot change.
The key to buying any ranch property is to ask questions. The more you know, the more you can be confident in your purchase.
If you have more questions, reach out to a real estate agent that can help you find ranch properties for sale.