Before purchasing my own acreage property I would often catch myself dreaming of the picture perfect home over-looking rolling acres dotted with trees and white picket fences.  If that sounds like you, take a couple moments to ask yourself these questions before you head out to find your own little house on the prairie.  This top 10 list will help you to recognize an acreage property that is both enjoyable and worry-free for years to come!

1. Will my property grow into my future vision?

How exciting! You just found the “perfect” property.  However, what are your goals and does the property you are looking at fit your vision 5, 10 or even 20 years from now? Down the road you may want to build a shop, raise animals, or grow crops and now is the best time to consider if the property will be able to fit your future needs as well.  

2. Where does my property REALLY end? 

Do you truly know what dirt you are paying taxes on?  Make sure you understand where the property boundary lines are - all the way around the property - not just along the front.  Before you buy, you may want to get the property surveyed - if you have any question on where your property starts and ends.

3. Do I need to worry about protective covenants or zoning ordinances?

Can’t wait to dam up that creek and create a beautiful fishing hole?  Be sure to check with the local zoning ordinance or Department of Natural Resources to confirm if the property has any existing wetlands before you create your own lake or begin filling in any low areas.  

4. What condition is the well or septic?

Homes in rural areas may rely on their own septic systems and wells. These two items can be costly mistakes if you skip your due diligence before you buy.  Both a well and septic should be inspected and tested prior to purchase.  Make sure to review your disclosure reports carefully for these items!

5. Who provides which utilities? 

This may not be your first rodeo, so this question may appear to be a no-brainer, however - you may be wrong. 

  • Are you connected to the city gas line or does the property have a propane tank?  Is the propane tank owned or rented? What company currently services the propane tank?  Make sure to confirm the gas percentage before you close as this is often an adjustment in the purchase agreement. 
  • Internet & garbage – you may have limitations as to which companies you can choose from
  • Snow removal – is there a company that currently clears the property's driveway or private drive?
  • Road maintenance – Is the road a private road or serviced by the county?

6. Would I benefit from designing my farm from the ground up or should I modify a pre-existing layout?

Perhaps working with the current set-up is your best option.  Is the acreage just the way you like it or will you need to hire contractors to complete some additional modifications?  For example, maybe all you need is an excavator is to add a driveway.  Do you have enough room when considering setbacks to add the driveway or building?  Does the additional cost warrant the addition, or would you prefer to just buy a vacant property and design your dream from scratch? 

7. What are my insurance needs and tax requirements now that I have an acreage?

Don’t let insurance and taxes be a sticker shock. The cost of insuring a farm, acreage, or land can vary greatly from what a typical town lot may cost. Make sure to consider the additional liability and protect yourself before disaster hits.

Understand that acreages often don’t get preferred agricultural tax rates unless they meet certain stringent regulations.  Look into your state’s rules regarding agricultural zones, green acres, and other tax programs. Don’t be afraid to call your county assessor because the potential savings can be significant if you qualify. 

8. Do the soils and pastures meet my needs? 

If you are planning on buying a property for grazing, hayfields, or croplands, have you walked the land to determine the soil type?  Are there any wetlands where you may need to avoid? If you are planning on using the land for pasture, what types of native grasses are currently existing? Will you need significant effort to rid the gopher metropolis or shrub brush jungle?  

Are the fences adequate for your needs? If not, consider the additional time and cost of re-fencing your property. These costs add up quickly.

Check out the University of Minnesota’s website for pasture management tips at:

9. What type of machinery do I need to maintain my property? 

Perhaps at your first property, you prided yourself on a meticulous lawn and the crack of dawn snow removal. However, don’t be fooled, an acreage property will often need more than a push lawnmower and small snow blower!

Buying an acreage often requires hard work to keep it maintained and the right tools can drastically reduce your time in the hot sun or bitter cold.  You will need a high quality riding lawn mower with snow blower attachments at a minimum.  Some properties might also need an ATV, a skid steer, or even a tractor (don’t forget to consider the attachments for each) to get the job done. All these can be large investments that you will want to consider in your initial budget.

10. Are the outbuildings sufficient for my storage and use?

Does the property have a large enough garage or outbuildings for your vision?  Will you need to build additional structures to protect your livestock or your machinery from the cold Minnesota winters?  No one ever complained about their oversized garage or storage shed.  Make sure you have adequate storage for all your new acreage tools.

Check out my 6 favorite acreage properties that won't last long!  Call me to set-up a showing!