For many years buying and selling property in the country has been one of my specialties, and I am a long-time country property owner myself. Buying a country property is a fantastic way to escape the noise of the city and reconnect with nature, and depending on the plans you have for your future property, owning land in the country can also be a profitable investment. Nevertheless, over my many years of dealing with rural properties I have learned important lessons about buying country property in Ontario, and I would like to share some of those lessons with you.
- Your research doesn’t stop at the boundaries of your prospective property; you should be aware of everything that is going on within a radius of several kilometers of the property that you are interested in. Is there a factory or large industrial farm nearby that produces loud noises or strong odors? Are there other factors near the property that could reduce the value of your home, such as a slaughterhouse or a wind farm?
- Check with the local conservation authorities to make sure that you can make desired changes to your property in the future. In some areas, such as those close to the Niagara Escarpment, you may require a permit to enlarge an existing pond (not to mention put in a new one), and in certain areas such permits are rarely granted.
- Be sure to conduct a proper well assessment and don’t rely on the vendor disclosure for flow rate. You should also send a water sample to a private lab to check for contamination. If you purchase a property with any type of land or water contamination, it will be difficult to sell (not only because buyers will want their water to be clean, but also because most lenders will only release mortgage funds with proof that the water is potable).
- Make sure that the septic system is in good condition. Septic inspection by an inspector who is licensed by the city or region is required by most lenders for financing. If you plan to make changes which require a building permit (such as adding more bathrooms or more square footage to the property), be aware that the septic system might need to be updated or enlarged.
- Check with the owner, agent, municipality, and region for existing permits for such things as sand and gravel pits. You might buy a beautiful property on a pristine patch of land only to have gravel trucks invade the area a few months later.
- Check whether the neighboring properties can be subdivided or have already been given permission to subdivide. If the neighboring properties can be subdivided you might see new structures popping up around your property and intruding on your serenity and privacy.
My final tip is this: don’t let all of these lessons discourage you about buying a country property (which can make for a wonderful home and a profitable investment), just make sure that you and your realtor have done the proper research and that you are making a thoroughly informed decision. As in most spheres of life, in the world of real estate knowledge is a valuable currency!