Whether looking to buy a ranch for the long term or just for investment, the single most important factor is to determine what you can or can not build on the land. Often times, rural Texas land has very few limitations, but it is critical that you investigate prior to making your rural land purchase. To help you identify that perfect piece of real estate, I’ve listed some information that you should consider.
How land is zoned determines what can be built. Farmers, ranches, and real estate investors are commonly subdividing their land into “ranchettes” and homesites, but land zoned for agricultural use may not legally allow buyers to build. For example, zoning may allow just one home for every 50 acres. In this example, a 30 acre would-be ranchette becomes much less valuable.
To determine how land is zoned you will need to make a trip to the County appraisal district. There is a lot of Texas land for sale, but if you can’t legally do what you want to do then the property is not for you. If you find property in Kerr County, for example, then it’s time to visit the Kerr County Appraisal District. Find out what their zoning designations mean. Also, ask if a zoning change is planned and how you can obtain a building permit for your ranch’s house or barn. Additionally, check to see how close to the property boundaries you can build. They will also have maps so that you can see if your potential acquisition is in a flood zone. And if your land borders a lake or river, additional regulations may limit your ability to develop or improve the land.
Never underestimate the importance of utilities! Are there hookups for water, electricity, telephone, and sewer? If not, then things on your ranch could get difficult. If certain utilities are not in the area, do some research and find out when the city or county plans to extend access. If there’s no sewer service available, then you’ll to determine whether the land can support a septic system. Utility considerations can really impact plans, so ensure that you get as much information as possible before you pull the trigger on that Hill Country ranch.
Soil type is very important. Not just in determing whether a septic system will work, but also because it determins what type of vegetation will grow on the property. Depending on the area, you may need soil borings to determine how far down builders must go to excavate for your foundation. Some soils in Texas are almost solid rock, others are almost pure clay. If you are planning on building, then certain parts of the property may be more conducive than others. Too much soil moisture can add thousands of dollars to building costs. It’s always a good idea to know what is under the surface because it can also give you an idea of how far down you will have to drill if you want to install a well.
Accessability is a big factor when choosing rural land to purchase. Land closer to improved roads usally garners higher prices because of ease of access. Land further from improved roads or down deaded easements, in many cases, costs less. Of course, it all depends upon habitat type and aesthetics. If the ranch you want to buy is not accessible by a public road then make sure that a deeded right-of-way gives you the right to access your land. This has caused headaches for thousands of Texas ranch buyers.
In short, once you have found that perfect piece of Texas land for sale, do your homework!