Rural buyer checklist

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Excitement is high as you plan for a life-long dream of living in a regional town or rural area. While perfect in your mind and heart, this move should include reflecting on points you may never have thought of when buying in suburbia.

Access to amenities and utilities

When you live in the city, schools and supermarkets are always nearby. Not so in a smaller town! So, before you purchase that lovely country home, double-check its location. In an emergency situation, how long would it take to reach a hospital? If you need a bottle of milk, how far away is the nearest store? 

Also, does the house feature reliable power, water, internet and phone services? Ensure you’re familiar with the area’s industries. A thriving economy is fantastic but if the town depends on just one industry alone – such as mining – and that same industry plummets, then so could your home’s value.

Water and sewerage

Many rural properties rely on garden water tanks rather than the local town’s water supply or a central sewerage system but verify these details with the vendor and your agent. If a sewerage system has been installed at the property, ensure it has council consents and ask what maintenance it may need. 

The resource consents should also be transferred to your name when you buy the house. Remember as well that installing gas and electricity connections or septic and drainage pits can be costly.

Land covenants

There’s the possibility of your new lot being subject to a land covenant especially in the case of subdivided and developed land. This isn’t altogether a bad thing as it essentially means a developer or local council is keen to ensure top-notch standards in the area are maintained, without affecting neighbours. 

On the other hand, it might influence exactly what farming or developments you can enjoy at the property. Again, ask the vendor about this point and check every letter of fine print.

Neighbourhood watch

One of your main reasons for moving out of the city is because you want more peace and less noise. But even though your nearest new neighbours are miles away, you might still hear and smell them. This is particularly the case if you’re living close to processing plants, sewerage treatment and animal facilities, and fertiliser sprays. 

We recommend you get to know who your neighbours are and what their farming or similar homegrown activities involve. Also, check on prevailing wind directions and your local zoning rules.

Contamination and pests

Another possibility of such odours and similar is the impact they can have on soil and vegetation. This contamination can sit quietly in the soil and have repercussions for decades to come. So, research the history of your potential plot and check what it was previously used for, particularly any activities possibly using pesticides and chemicals. Noxious weeds and pests such as fruit flies could also be lurking and may make revitalising land for livestock and crops costly and difficult. 

Local councils or your conveyancer should be able to tell you whether the area is designated as a disease and pest management space but if you’re unsure, have a qualified agronomist test your soil and organise a pest inspection.