Buying or Selling a Rural Property

(July 13, 2016 )

 
If you want to live outside of a city or town you may be looking at buying a rural property. For the purpose of this post 'rural' is describing a property NOT on sewer, municipal water, or natural gas services. If you're looking at a FARM property, this applies to you, plus a few other things to look out for: see here for more specifics.
When looking at rural property, a buyer or seller should make sure they can get information on:
  • Septic Systems
  • Wells/Water Systems
  • Surveys
These are the 'big three', in my opinion that absolutely need to be addressed.

Septic Systems are sewage systems for an individual property. There are a number of different types requiring different types of ongoing maintenance.  At the minimum, you should ask for proof of the septic's functionality, when it was last serviced, and it's age. You should also have the septic checked at the time of your home inspection. Septic system care is the responsibility of the property owner, NOT the municipality.

Wells and Water Systems are the source of water for and individual rural property. The water supply for a rural property can be from a 'drilled' well(deep), 'dug' well(shallow) or from a pond, river, or lake intake.  The water is pumped from the source into the buildings, and usually filtered for drinking and other uses. Sellers need to be prepared that they will be asked to have a water potability test done(safe for drinking) and any info about the water systems should be made available. Smaller cottage/seasonal properties often have water pulled from the lake or river, and is not safe for drinking. This is fine, as long as it is disclosed. Less surprises can mean better offers on the property, and less stress for the buyer client.

Surveys are official documents that describe the boundaries and details of the subject property. There may not be an actual physical copy of a  complete survey available for every property. Land Registry offices often don't have original documents, and finding them can take weeks(or months) in some jurisdictions. Keep any documents that you may have pertaining to your property, because they may make your property sale smoother.  A new survey on a property can cost thousands of dollars.