Tips for Buying Rural Land and Ranches in Texas
Many folks in Texas grew up in rural communities or had family that did. People dream of getting back to a simpler way of life and out of the rat race of the city. If you’re thinking about buying rural land here are a few things to consider.
Property Exemptions – A minimum of 10 acres is usually best to maintain an ag exemption. Each county has it’s own requirements but most require at least a minimum of 10 acres. Once you’ve identified the county you want to buy in, it’s well worth a phone call to the county appraisers office to find out what you need to do regarding ag or wildlife exemptions. Ask the county appraisal office about property size requirements and how your exemptions are to be maintained. If you intend to maintain your exemption by letting someone else run cattle on your property, it would be best to get your grass lease in writing. I know some counties will ask for a copy of it. If you’re interested in a wildlife exemption, you’ll need to be ag exemption first. Contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife for more information on a wildlife exemption.
Property Use – Is your property going to be a future home site? Is it a place to hunt, fish or just a place to get away from the subdivision in town? If you’re going to keep animals on the property, pay close attention to what I stated above regarding exemptions. If it’s a future home site, you may need to consider schools and how close you are to groceries or the hardware store. The main thing to consider when buying a rural property is first making sure you can use the property the way you want to. You will need to know if the property is restricted. Read more about this below. If it’s restricted, you’ll need to read the restrictions and make sure you’re allowed to use the property the way you want. Don’t forget to find out what utilities are available and what the cost would be to add them to your property.
Restricted or Unrestricted – Most people want unrestricted land because “I don’t want any one telling me what to do on my land!!” Actually most restrictions in rural areas are usually pretty light and are designed to keep the area looking nice and nice looking areas are great for resale and maintaining property values. I deal with restrictions all the time and they don’t bother me at all. If they seem too restrictive then that property may not be for you. It’s never a good idea to buy restricted property and then do whatever you want on it. You may end up having to tear something down you just built! The most common restrictions I see are no mobile homes, no junk yards, no pig farms, no shooting ranges, no commercial businesses, etc. You can only imagine how bad it would be for a shooting range to open up right next door to you. In this scenario having shooting ranges restricted from the neighboring property would be a life saver. The moral of this story should be most restrictions help keep the peace and the community looking nice.
Utilities – The most important thing here is understanding where your power is going to come from and who the provider is. If you need an easement from a neighbor to run power to a property you’re interested in buying, make sure you can get that easement before signing on the dotted line to purchase that property. Some rural properties are lucky enough to have public water but if not, get an idea of how deep the wells are in the area and the gpm to be expected. You can usually count on using satellite for your TV and internet. Sometimes local rural providers such as Western Broadband have other internet options. These days most folks don’t require a land line for their phone but if you need one keep that in mind as well. And always check on your septic costs for your particular county.
What’s Included – It is extremely important that agents, brokers, buyers, sellers and anyone else involved in the sale understand in writing what is included and not included in the transaction. A detailed list of anything you feel you are buying should be a part of your contract. The list may include gates, livestock panels, portable sheds, feeders, blinds, equipment and etc.
Leases – It’s pretty common for rural properties to have grass and hunting leases. I never recommend taking over someone else’s lease. When buying a property it’s best to have all leases terminate prior to closing. If you want to continue leasing the grass or hunting to the same person as before then sign them up 100% on your terms.
Survey – Always get a survey and walk your boundaries, look for encroachments and be aware of fencing that’s not on the boundary lines. The survey will also verify the actual amount of acres you’re buying. If you are borrowing, your lender will require a survey.
Floodplains – Almost any property with a creek, river or lake of any kind is likely to have floodplain areas. Some properties with no live water or surface water at all can still have floodplain areas. There are numerous resources out there to get copies of a floodplain map of an area, FEMA being one of them. Sometimes your survey will show the floodplain on a property but not always. Just be aware of the floodplain areas and make sure they don’t impact your build sites or interfere with your intended use of the property.