When you are thinking about purchasing a property for a homestead there are a few big things that you need to look into before finalizing any deal. This list should not be thought of as the only things you need to consider and research but it should be used as a starting point.
Who Owns The Property
This is very important especially when buying property online. If a piece of land is advertised for sale you want to make sure that the person trying to sell it is the actual owner. The way you do this is ask the seller to send you a copy of their deed and then contact the register of deeds for the property. Normally the register of deeds is at the county level of government but it might be at a city. Verify that the person selling is the person who owns the property and only make payment directly to that person or company if it is owned by a company. You also should use title insurance and this will make sure that there are no liens on the property and ownership is valid. But a quick lookup on a county website and emailing or calling the register of deeds is a first step.
What Property Restrictions Are On The Land
You might think that a piece of property that is located within a rural area has no limits placed on it but the use of the property for a home or farming or in the case of a small business can restrict your use of the property. By calling the zoning commission of the area where the property is located you can find out if there are any restrictions and what you might have to do to put up a small farm store or maybe you are into furniture making. You have to research the use of the land and that includes something as simple as being able to camp on the land with an RV or placing a single wide trailer on the property for partial year use and vacationing. It can also restrict the minimum size of the home if you were considering building a small home. This could mean you have to build a much larger home. There are a number of limitations and you need to know them before you make an offer.
Who Owns The Mineral And Water Rights On Your Property
If you are purchasing land for use as a homestead then it is important that you own the Oil Gas, Mineral and water rights on the property or you could find that another person or company could come in and take or make use of your land against your wishes.
Is There Water On Your Property
Water is one of the most important things for every property owner. If you are on municipal water and sewer then the need for drilling a well is less but when you get into rural areas you most likely don’t have access to municipal water. This means you will be harvesting all of your water from the property. If you have a stream or a spring and someone up stream from you is making use of that water to irrigate their fields and they have the right to do so then you can not depend on that stream for your own use. Shared water rights are very important to understand and you must also understand that your use effects the downstream property owners.
Are There Any Back Taxes Owed
If there are any back taxes owed on the property you will be liable for them unless there is an agreement that they be paid off before the deed change is made. So the easiest way to find out if there are any back taxes owed on the property is to contact the county treasurer and provide them the description and parcel ID of the property and they can tell you if taxes are paid up or not. Some counties do have this system online and sometimes there is a fee for online use but if you contact them by phone or email or in person if you can they can often look up the information for you. If there are back taxes owed then you should either deduct them from your offer price or justify them if the asking price is low enough. You don’t want to have to pay them on top of the asking price and not know about them or it could make the price you pay well more than the property is worth.
What Are The Permit Requirements For The Property
Permit Requirements are a big thing when you are trying to build your own home. If you want to live in a rural area there will still be permit requirements but for the most part they are requirements that are placed on the entire State. You may need to have a septic system inspection or you might need a well inspection and depending on where you are you might have building permits that you need to have before you build or move into your home.
Residential Permits in suburban or city areas are more common and they can be highly detailed but if you want to put up a small shed for your firewood you shouldn’t be thinking about calling and paying for permits.
Knowing your permitting requirements should be done at the same time you are investigating your zoning restrictions for property use. Contact your county building official for more information.
You can never think of all of the things that are necessary when setting up a homestead but asking questions is the first step. Something as simple as registering a street address so 911 Services and Mail Delivery can be made to your property is something you don’t think about when you are buying a home in a suburban development.
Do your research and ask questions and ask the people you are asking for any suggestions because quite often they have already been through it.