Country properties in Lane County are different than urban properties, and whether buying or selling, an experienced Realtor should be invaluable to you. Following, are some of the concerns to consider on rural property in Lane County:
Rural property in Lane County behaves to some extent like urban property, in that comps (comparable properties) help define the price. It is much harder to find direct comps for country properties, however. Appraisers and banks place more emphasis on the structure(s) than the land. However, most buyers and sellers evaluate a country property across a number of items, including:
- Size and quality of residence
- Type, number and quality of outbuildings
- Size and type of land (flat, forested, farm etc.)
- Special features (views; creek, river or lake frontage)
- Distance to town
- Relative privacy
- Proximity to town
Boundaries and property lines: Frequently, rural properties will have been surveyed and described by a method known as as metes and bounds, which is more complex than most urban surveys. Factors to consider are will walking the property lines be enough, or is locating the corners and existing monuments, or even a new survey needed?
Drainage: Is drainage of the land sufficient? Is the siting of structures any concern? For instance, structures near a hill may require a French drain. Structures on soils with a very high clay content may require a sump pump.
Water rights: Does the property have water rights from a creek or river? Are there conditions necessary to maintain them, such as continuous use? Was the water well permitted by the State?
Timber or mineral rights: These may be sold separately from the land; a title examination will ascertain if the mineral and timber rights remain with the land, which is usually the case.
Resource based requirements: Does the land need to be replanted with trees to be in compliance with the law? Does a farm need a certain economic output to be within compliance for zoning ordinance?
Soils: Farmers pay attention to soil for obvious reasons, and to the rest of us it’s usually just dirt. However, even if farming isn’t important, it doesn’t hurt to know what you have. For instance, are Hydric soils present and to what extent? Hydric soils are usually wet and swampy, and part of the legal definition of a wetland.
Adjacent properties: Different property uses by your neighbors can impact you. For instance, a neighborhood quarry may generate truck traffic as well as cause noise from blasting. A tree farm will probably be logged eventually, and industrial forest owners sometimes spray their crop with herbicides. A livestock farm may have unpleasant odors. Industrially zoned property may be noisy and cause truck traffic. All of the aforementioned uses are present in Lane County; if they are important, you should investigate the property uses in the neighborhood.
Zoning: Different zones allow different uses. For example, a residence may not be allowed in F1, non-impacted forest zone, without a certain sized lot. Zoning rules change over time and usually they become more restrictive. Ascertaining that a residence or other structures can legally be replaced if there’s a catastrophic loss is a good idea.
Firebreaks: Lane County requires a setback distance between vegetation and structures if the property is in certain zones, such as forestry.
Land Size: Financing larger parcels may be difficult. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have maximum standards, and different lenders may even have more restrictive standards. Knowing these before you look is a good idea, because unless you have all cash, you’ll need a bank loan.
Easements: country properties in Lane County, sometimes cross property owned by others for access. Easements are a recorded document that permit you to freely cross another’s property, or they to cross yours. The title search will show recorded easements from which your property may benefit, or by which your property may be burdened. Often, recorded easements are permanent and run with the land.
Facilities Permit: Lane County requires a Facilities Permit for a driveway approach joining their roads. This is usually only a concern if you need to change your driveway or in the case of new construction, where you need to add a driveway approach.
Maintenance Agreement: If others cross your property via road, or vice versa, a joint maintenance agreement spelling out who is responsible for what maintenance costs is a good idea.
Driveway standards: For some country property, Lane County’s driveway standards may be a concern. For instance, only a maximum slope is allowed and minimum width requirements may be present depending on zoning of the property.
Inspections: As with city property, a pests & dry rot inspection as well as a whole house inspection is a good idea before you buy. Sometimes sellers will obtain both so they can repair any damage before the sale, but this is less common.
Permits: Things sometimes get built in the country without the required permits. Checking the permit status is a good idea. Were building permits obtained for both the structure(s) and any remodeling work? Was a “final inspection,” or occupancy permit obtained?
Flow: A well should be tested to insure it has adequate flow. Different lenders will have different minimums, but 3 gallons per minute seems to be a ballpark minimum to be financeable. Whether or not a storage tank is required will vary, but low producing wells often require one for the property to be financeable.
Quality: Oregon State law requires sellers to test well water for coliforms, arsenic and nitrates. While having the test, finding out about sulfur, iron and water hardness is a good idea. Most water problems are correctable with modern technology, but who pays for a water treatment system may be a topic for negotiation. Wells in southern Lane County, from about Creswell south are known for containing arsenic.
Setback from Septic: For rather obvious reasons, you don’t want your well too close to the septic tank and drain field. 100 feet is the minimum, and a greater distance doesn’t hurt anything.
Neighborhood water production history: What do other wells in the neighborhood produce? If the well fails, as sometimes happens, are you likely to have an easy or difficult time drilling and developing a new well? You can get an idea about that from looking at the well logs.
Other tests: The well tests may contain data on drawdown, static level, and water temperature. Interpretation of these is better left to well experts, in my opinion.
Inspection: A septic tank should be pumped and it and the drainfields inspected. The location of the septic tank is good to know. As, is the type of septic system–is it standard or a sand filter? More maintenance and monitoring is sometimes required with a sand filtration septic system, and they are much more expensive if you need to replace them.
Is the property located in the 100 or 500 year floodplain? Is flood insurance required, and what is the cost? Can establishing a baseline elevation allow the properties floodplain status to be changed? Was the property dry during the 1964 and 1996 floods?
Checking with the local ‘net provider(s) will answer those questions. While they are of great importance these days, as wireless technology improves, this issue will probably diminish in importance.
Generator Back Up: Power goes out more frequently in the country, and a generator back up is desirable. Simple systems are manual and require throwing a switch or two and starting a generator. High end systems are automatic and require little or no human intervention. Checking outage rates for the area with the local utility provider can shed some light on the subject.
Electric Utilities in Lane County include:
- Pacific Power
- Lane Blachly Electrical Co-Op
- Lane Electrical Co-Op
- Central Lincoln PUD (coast & Mapleton areas)
Purchasing or selling country property in Lane County is far more complex than for urban properties. A good realtor familiar with rural property around Eugene Springfield can be an invaluable resource for you. If you have questions about real estate, please contact me. Detailed, non-touristy information on Lane County can be found here.