Many of you know that I live on acreage with horses, three golden retrievers; Giselle, Luna and Oberon. Oh yeah, I almost forgot…my wife Lyndi lives here too! We have in recent past had goats, ducks, chickens too. And we sure do love it! On a lazy afternoon, (which is not very often), I grab my boots, a cowboy hat, and saddle up my horse Oak for a sunset ride up the road. I have honestly learned to laugh more, dream big and count the stars. Sometimes I wake up to the endless honking of geese on our pond or the shrill call of a soaring falcon. Life in Fort Collins is idyllic. I am living my dream and creating memories for the years to come!
In recent years, more and more people have approached to me wanting to fulfill their quest for a simpler, more wholesome and organic lifestyle. They are not necessarily looking to imitate me, but they have a vision of what will sustain and satisfy their soul’s longing. And I love that! And in that quest, my friends, clients, acquaintances all do have one thing in common…they want land. Not just a typical suburban lot. They want land, land, land. Often 5 acres is perfect. But sometimes much, much more — 10 acres, 40 acres and even more!
So here is Part One with helpful hints when purchasing acreage.
1. Visit the Land – Never Buy Sight Unseen
Obvious, I know. Kind of a no brainer. But land descriptions in print and online can be rather tempting. You must visit the land. Bring your boots and walk the borders. Visit in the morning and in the evening. Stand in each corner and record what you see. What kind of trees, grasses, topography is present? Will you have neighbors who may be relatives of the Clampett hillbillies? How about objectionable power lines? Take pictures and review them when you get home. Make a list and review with your family before proceeding.
2. How Will You Use the Land?
Do you plan to farm? What is the soil like? What is the altitude? Does the topography support crops? Or will you have small or large livestock? How about poultry? What kind of animals? Are there any county restrictions? (Hmmmm…I am thinking I will have to write a blog for every one of these subtopics in the future). Anyway, you’ll want to explore how the land was previously used. How was it managed? Possibly a soil test is in order too.
Every county in the country, and I mean every county, has different definitions of Agricultural, Rural, Large Rural, Rural Residential, Open, and on and on! If you are considering a property, research the allowances and restrictions for the zoning assigned.
You must understand your property’s water rights. And it can get very complicated, often needing a water attorney. Yup, read that right. You may even be visiting a Water Court with a three judge panel to decide water rights on your land. If you have a well, once again, you must review the well permit and examine the allowed uses of the water. Does your well allow for domestic household use only? Can you water a garden? How about an acre of land? Can you water your animals? You think I am kidding; I am not! There are various issues relating to ground water verses surface water. Can you and should you adjudicate your water rights? How much does it cost? Colorado Division of Water Resources is a great place to do some research. Check them out here: www.water.state.co.us/Home
5. Boundaries & Surveys
I am sure you have read and heard stories about property boundary disputes. Some crazy, some legitimate. You don’t want to get caught up in this kind of nonsense. I recently represented a client who was selling some acreage here in Sedalia. After conducting a survey, we discovered that the neighbor had built a barn on my clients land. He had encroached about 30 feet over my client’s property line. And you guessed right, he had to tear down half of his barn! No kidding. So if you are purchasing land and even if property lines seem to be established, don’t assume they are right. Hire a surveyor, review the survey and then record it with the county. Then you can choose your barn’s building site in confidence.
Next blog we’ll touch on outbuildings, septic systems, utilities and more.