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For buyers interested in finding out more about rural properties and living in regional areas, here’s a detailed 10 point checklist to help you on your journey.
1. Check local amenities
Access to schools, healthcare, shops and other services will factor heavily in your decision. How far away from your property are they? How long is the commute and how regularly will you take the trip? Employment opportunities may also influence your decision – so check what industries and services are within commuting distance. Take the time to visit the area and drive the routes from a few outer-lying areas to see how long it actually takes (don’t rely on online maps).
2. Check access to utilities
Not all rural localities enjoy easy access to utilities typically associated with modern life. Check the availability and cost of power, water, waste disposal, internet and phone services. The quality or reliability of these services may impact on those wanting to establish new farming enterprises, where production processes or internet speeds are crucial to its operations.
3. Check for health and safety hazards
Identify any intensive animal industries, sewerage treatment facilities and processing plants nearby. Get information on prevailing wind directions and check the likely impact of odours or soil contamination on your property. Also, in the event of an accident, how long will it take for emergency services to reach you and how far is the nearest hospital?
4. Check for local support and networking
Isolation or seclusion is an obvious appeal of rural properties, but how remote is too remote? A local agent will be able to point you in the right direction as they know what happens in the community and have a network of contacts. Depending on what you use your land for, you may need to gain further skills in farming practices, so check if there are local landcare groups or community hubs.
5. Check property access
If you’re going to live full-time on the property, ensure access to the farm is possible in all weather conditions. Check who is responsible for local road maintenance and what else the roads may be used for – in many rural areas it’s common for livestock and machinery to be on both sealed and unsealed roads.
6. Check farm infrastructure
Does the fencing, sheds, water pumps, dams, drains, bores, irrigation and water supply meet your needs for the property? Are they clearly marked on the sale contract? What will the ongoing costs be for their maintenance? There may also be existing plantations, aquaculture or horticulture which require upgrading, and possibly council approval.
7. Check land or soil degradation
Previous agricultural activities may have contaminated soils with pesticides and chemicals. Some areas could have noxious weed or pests that have impacted on the land and soil quality. Check the scale of work needed to rejuvenate any areas you’ll be using for crops or grazing. The land could also be prone to flood damage – if there has been any soil slippage, this could affect new foundations and construction. It also means livestock need access to higher ground during peak flows.
8. Check for any pests and diseases
It’s important to research any history of weeds, pests and diseases on the property. Check the general health status of all vegetation, against the list of concerns for each and the likelihood of them occurring. The eradication of pests and diseases can be costly (especially if they move to neighbouring properties) so preventative measures are always preferable.
9. Check for future planning
It’s possible that State or local government have planned developments in surrounding areas. Check with relevant authorities what these are, when they’re planned for and if they’re likely to impact on your enjoyment of the property. Regional plans from the local council should provide a guide for future development.
10. Check the home itself
Finally, as you would with any residential property purchase, undertake a thorough inspection of the home or homestead. Does it need any repairs or renovations before you move in? Exposure to climate extremes, such as sun, wind and rain, should be investigated. It’s possible you’ll compromise on some shortfalls with a home for the overall enjoyment of a rural existence, but don’t ‘make do’ with the unliveable.
For additional information on buying rural property in your state, check out these valuable State & Territory Government resources:
New South Wales