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Questions you need to ask before buying an acreage

Blog by Kim Twohey | September 19th, 2017

If you have always dreamed of wide open spaces and country living, then buying an acreage or rural property might be a great choice for you!  Out of town properties have different features and potential challenges that you need to know about before you make the decision to buy.  Here are a few questions you should ask your Realtor before making an offer on your rural dream home.

How is the water quality?

Acreages often get their water supply from private wells.  These wells have the potential to be contaminated by things like minerals or radon.  A pre-offer water test can put your mind at ease.  If the water fails the test, you can move on to another property or factor into your offer the cost of a water treatment solution. 

How is the septic system?

Rural homes and acreages collect and treat sewage differently than urban properties.  The type and size of the septic system can vary based on the size of the home, how many other properties are in the area, and the number of people sharing the home.  Inadequate size is a common problem with septic systems.  To determine if the septic system is the right size, Alberta Municipal Affairs has put together guidelines for homeowners.  In addition to size, proper care is also an important aspect of septic system maintenance.  Ask your Realtor to find out if the tank has been serviced regularly.  Most professionals recommend servicing the tank every one to two years. 

Is the road leading to the property private?

Some acreages are situated on private roads.  From a peace and quiet perspective, this is a lovely feature but it also comes with a few potential challenges.  You may be required to pay additional annual expenses for road maintenance, including repairs and plowing.  Before making an offer, ask your Realtor to find out about the repair history, how safe the road is to travel during snowstorms and how frequently it is plowed.

Where does the garbage go?

City dwellers enjoy the convenience of regularly scheduled garbage, recycling, and compost pickup.  The cost for these services is added onto their utility bills.  Rural homeowners are often responsible for arranging and paying for garbage collection or disposal.  There are private companies that contract out their services to rural areas or homeowners can take their waste to the dump.

What happens if the power goes out?

When there is a major power outage, utility companies will work to restore service to the most highly populated areas first.  This means that rural properties may be left in the dark for longer.  For rural properties with a well on an electric pump, tap water cannot be used during a power outage.  Before buying a rural property, factor in some additional costs for things like an emergency generator, extra water, and supplies that will carry you through a power outage. 

What are the property maintenance requirements?

If you love year-round outdoor maintenance, then acreage living might be a good fit for you!  Ask your Realtor for a detailed breakdown of the regular and seasonal maintenance requirements of the property.  You may be required to purchase special equipment such as a snow blower and ride on lawn mower.  If you do not want to do much outdoor maintenance, you can contract these services out to a professional landscaping company.  Regardless of if you plan to do it yourself or hire someone, be sure to factor these additional costs into your budget. 

How close are amenities and services?

Before making an offer on a rural property, take a good look at your lifestyle and the proximity of amenities that are most important to you.  When you live out of town, conveniences like getting dinner delivered and taking quick trips to the store might not be possible.  Take a look at how far away things are like work, schools, medical care, and other activities that you participate in regularly.  Be sure to factor extra expenses into your budget for gas, car maintenance, and higher insurance premiums. 

Acreage homes are a great option for many homeowners!  If you are ready to make the leap to rural living, be sure to do your research and work with a Realtor who has experience in buying and selling acreage properties.  If you are looking for a fantastic acreage just minutes from Calgary, check out this amazing property.