The Official Bernard Alvarez website
Buying an off grid home or rural land is different than a typical real estate deal. Work with a professional who understands the unique needs of someone who wants to live “The Good Life”.
Here's a few things that a typical real estate agent might not be used to thinking about…
- Does the property face South (ish)? If not, forget about passive solar home design, and prepare to spend twice as much on active solar (eg solar panels).
- Does the property retain all water and mineral rights? The last thing you want is a nice, strong stream that you can’t do anything with, a well that has to be shared with an irresponsible neighbor who likes to wash their car with a hose every week, or some coal company running their dozers all over the place because somewhere a few generations ago a previous land owner sold the mineral rights.
- Has it been perk tested? And if so, for how many bedrooms / dwellings? A piece of land that doesn’t drain well cold make it very difficult to get a septic system in place. Your garden will have troubles too.
- What is the water source? Does it have a well or a spring? If not, how deep did the neighboring properties have to drill? You’ll want to get that checked out before signing the dotted line. An off grid property without water is almost useless for someone who wants to live there full time.
- What are the satellite internet connections like? You’re on this website, so I’m assuming you know how to use the internet and find it useful. If you’re like me, you might plan on making your living online. A good satellite internet connection could mean the difference between thriving in the country or finding yourself back in the factory or cubicle in another two years.
- How does the land lay? Aside from having a south-facing building site, is there a pasture area and garden area that gets plenty of sun? Is it flat, sloping, or steep? If you have “great views” that might be a keyword for “steep”. Homesteaders who plan on having any kind of livestock or sizeable garden should have a few acres of level to sloping land.
- What are the restrictions? I’m assuming you want to get away from things like covenants and homeowners associations because you’re looking for off grid or rural land. So the last thing you want to do is get half-way through the process, fall in love with a property, and discover that you can’t have those goats or chickens you dreamed about due to a deed restriction of some kind. Or maybe you want to build cabins to rent out. You’d better check the restrictions on how many dwellings are allowed then.
- Are there any easements? Do you have to go thru someone else’s property to reach your own? If so, is that stipulatted in both deeds? Don’t trust a friendly handshake on this. What if the neighbor sells his property to a developer or a jerk?
- Is the road county maintained? This could come down to preference. Some might like the idea of getting “snowed in” for a few weeks, but if you have health problems and might need to get to a hospital, or don’t have enough food “put up” to get you through the winter months, a county-operated plow could mean the difference between life and death.
There are way too many details to think about when looking for rural land or off grid homes for sale for us to put them all down on this page. But this is precisely why you should be working with a real estate agent who knows what to look for and which questions to ask.