If wide open fields, unobstructed mountain views, or dense, old-growth forests are on your bucket list, then buying a ranch property is for you. There are, however, a few terms you need to understand before buying your dream land.
1. Easement: An easement is a common term found in many ranch property listings. It is a right of way over a parcel of land. In suburban areas, the most common type of easement is the electric company having an easement, or the right to access, the back area of your lot in order to reach electrical poles and lines. In rural areas, it is common for an easement to allow a landowner access to a landlocked parcel by driving over another person's land.
2. Perc test: A percolation test, more commonly called a perc test, is a soil drainage test. If the property fails a perc test, it means that the soil did not drain quickly enough for a standard septic system installation. This is not a deal breaker, however. It simply means that you will need an engineered field, which can be more expensive.
3. Conservation area: Many large, rural tracts encompass or abut conservation areas. How this affects your purchase decision depends on you and your needs. If you want to use your parcel for seasonal hunting, you may not be able to do so if the land is part of a conservation area. If, however, you are a nature lover and love to photograph animals, this may be a perfect scenario for you to enjoy your hobby and help protect the land.
4. Survey: While it is not out of the ordinary to perform a survey on an urban or suburban property, it is not common. Rural land, on the other hand, is often accompanied by a survey. In fact, most banks require a survey be performed during the underwriting process. If a survey already exists, the bank will most likely require that a land survey company simply check to ensure the stakes are still in place and the longitude and latitude information is correct.
5. County Maintained: Again, in more populated areas, this term is not often seen, but it is common in rural parts of the country. County maintained roads are roads that are maintained by the county. This means snow plowing in the winter and general maintenance in the summer. Plowing your driveway after a heavy snowfall is expected. Plowing the street is a whole other ballgame that you may or may not be up for.
Ranch properties are a good investment, but you need to fully understand the purchase before moving forward.