Pre-purchase Evaluations for Rural Properties

Would you buy a house without investing in a home inspection? Probably not, unless you have the skills and knowledge necessary to determine whether or not your prospective dwelling is in good shape and what additional expenditures might be required to make it safe and livable.

Now, would you buy rural property without first finding out if the land has potential safety, environmental, or regulatory problems and development constraints? Unfortunately, the answer for most buyers of rural homes and acreage is, “Maybe, I never thought about it.” Later, when problems arise (as they too often do), they wish they had thought about it.

Some primary considerations in purchasing rural property:

  • The presence of wetlands, lakes, streams, steep slopes, marine bluffs, and trees on a property often adds character and scenic value.
  • These desireable features can also cause a property to be subject to environmental, developmental, and/or regulatory constraints, which can significantly increase development costs and require additional permitting time and expense.
  • Due to past management practices, the trees which drew you to the property may be subject to blowdown, and there may be other tree hazards.
  • That stunning view of Puget Sound may have been created at the cost of your bluff property’s stability.
  • Your creek may flood in the winter.
  • State or local environmental ordinances may limit how you develop the property.
  • The land may be subject to erosion and drainage problems due to previous poor land-management practices.

In short, your dream-property could become your nightmare and end up costing you substantially more than the purchase price. Compared to the initial cost of a rural lot or acreage, a pre-purchase property evaluation is a minor expense. In fact, such an evaluation is an invaluable investment, which can increase your peace of mind as you move into your new home or assist you in creating a strategy for developing your property wisely.

“Most of the problems I deal with as a consultant could have been avoided with a simple pre-purchase inspection. Whether you’re looking for a complete property-development plan or merely the informed advice of an objective third party, Greenbelt Consulting can help make your ‘move to the country’ trouble-free. With over 30 years of experience in forestry, fisheries, site development, and construction, I’ve seen it all. Call before you buy. You’ll be very glad you did!” – Elliott Menashe