What to Look For When Buying a House and Property

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Photo by Fotolia/Robert Kneschke

Before making the big move to a homestead, take care to evaluate the property to make sure it fits your needs and desires. Here is a quick guide for some factors you may want to consider.

I. How is the Location?

Owner’s or Brokers Name and Address

Distance to your job (time and miles)

Commute expenses

Condition of the roads in winter and spring

Distance to other frequented places, such as school, church, town, etc.

II. What is the Property’s Water Supply?

Consider whether the land is linked to town water, an artesian well, a shallow well or a spring. If other than town water, have tested for free by your state’s health department. Be sure you have a minimum of two or three gallons of flow per minute even in dry season.

III. What is the Property’s Sewage Disposal?

Does the land have municipal sewage disposal, a septic tank or a cess pool?

IV. How’s the Land?

Total land available: Should be at least three-fourths of an acre of good, level land. Total of two to five acres to include orchard, pasture, hay field, and land to grow some stock feed.

Size of garden and depth of soil: For a family of five, there should eventually be 100by 150 feet. Dig holes several places. Top soil should be 7 inches deep, although12 inches is better. If top soil is only 6 or 7 inches, subsoil should then not be hardpan or deep gravel.

Pasture: One-half to one acre for goats; one to two acres for cow.

Hayfield: Not necessary, but will save you buying hay. One to two acres for two sheep; two acres for steer. One-fourth to one-half acre for goats; two acres for cow.

Land for grain crops: Part time farmers probably won’t have time for grain. Additional four to 12 acres are necessary to grow all livestock grain.

Woodlot: Enough for fireplace, fence posts, etc.

Lay of land: At least three-fourth acre level; also hayfield level-pasture, woodland need not be level.

Natural Fertility: Observe present garden, vegetation, etc. Watch out for poor drainage, too much sand or clay or too many large stones.

V. Are There Out Buildings?


Tool house


Barn: A barn for dairy, rabbits and poultry ideally should contain a minimum of 500 sq. ft. floor area.

Poultry house and/or barn

VI. Is There an Orchard?

Orchard ideas: apple, peach, cherry, plum, grape, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, currants, asparagus, rhubarb, etc.

An established orchard in good condition is worth money. For a family of five this should contain: five apple trees, three pear trees, five peach trees, three cherry trees, two plum trees and 10grape vines as well as 50 raspberry plants and 100 strawberry plants.

VII. What Else is There to Consider?

Shade trees

Fencing: Good fencing is worth considerable money.

Length of growing season: Should be 120 days from frost to frost.

Neighborhood: Are land values going up or down? How are the neighbors? Is there the possibility of disposal, selling or renting? Is extra land available? Is it a desirable place to retire to? Are other people in the neighborhood raising family food?

The community: What’s the tax rate? What’s the crime rate? Are there any zoning restrictions against raising livestock, etc?

The home: Is the title sound? Has a lawyer searched the title? What’s the asking price? How long has the property been owned by the seller? What’s the assessed value? What’s the insured value? What price did the owner pay? (Sometimes you can get an idea by inquiring at the town recorder’s office.) Why does the owner want to sell? Is there a mortgage? Is a down payment needed? What’s the estimated cost to repair?