Are you considering buying a “main home” or a “second home”?
Buying country property is a dream for many people.
With the constantly increasing cost of homes in the city or suburbs, moving to the countryside is ideal. Just imagine having a big house on a vast parcel of land where you can enjoy fresh air every day, raise pets, grow a garden, and your kids can play and run freely.
If you are not fully committed to living in the countryside just yet, having a country retreat as your vacation home is also a wonderful arrangement. Many people buy rural properties as their second home, though some of them actually don’t have a first home yet.
Your vacation home is a great place to spend the weekend, the summers, the holidays, and for when you just want to get away and leave all the stress behind.
Come and experience the unique charm of Charlottesville!
Charlottesville in VA is one of the best places to buy a country home. If you haven’t fully decided, watch this video and you’ll see why.
(Click this link if you can’t watch the video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ0mLZE1doQ)
Downtown Charlottesville is fun, vibrant and dynamic. It is a great shopping district with a lot of restaurants and boutiques to choose from. It is a city but it has a small-town feel, which is why many people love it.
If you love being outdoors, Charlottesville is perfect. Depending on the season, you can go hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, skiing, snow-tubing and more. You’ll never run out of activities here.
How to buy a country property in Charlottesville
When it’s time to buy an acreage in the countryside, you might feel overwhelmed by all the choices and decisions you’ll have to make. Let me help you make it easier.
Here’s a step-by-step process to help you take it one day at a time.
Step 1. Conduct preliminary research.
As soon as you decide to buy a property, start visiting websites that offer estates, farms and ranches in Charlottesville’s countryside.
Your goal is to see what real estate you like, and have an idea of the price range. Take note of specific listings that catch your interest, and see how they are positioned in the market. Also, note if those properties experienced any price changes.
This is also the time to determine how you intend to use the land and if your favorites will have the necessary features. When you decide to buy a country property in Charlottesville, you already have a general idea of why you want it and what you want to do with it.
Step 2. Know how much you can afford.
Knowing your budget easily streamlines the country homes available to you. The expression, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew” fits this situation.
The first question you want to ask yourself when it comes to your purchase ability is, “How will I pay for this property?”
Will it be a cash purchase? Or will you opt for bank financing?
When you have substantial savings, you may want to make it a cash purchase. This will allow more room for negotiation, and it makes the whole buying process easier.
Step 3. Get Prequalified and Preapproved.
Knowing your possible budget range based from your own computations, and knowing how much you actually qualify for are two different things.
Before you buy the country property that you’ve been checking online every night, you first need to know how much you can actually spend, and the best way to find out is to be pre-qualified.
Getting a pre qualification allows you to know what loan program is best suited for you. It also gives you an idea of how much you can borrow. Securing a pre qualification will prove beneficial in the other steps of the buying process, like in budget preparation.
Once you know how much you can secure for the financing, get pre-approved.
A pre-qualification is helpful, but a pre-approval is more valuable because it tells the seller that a lender has checked your credit, verified your papers and has approved a loan amount for a particular time period.
Getting a pre-approval has many advantages:
1. It makes the home selection process easy for your agent. When agents know the price range you have been approved for, it is easier for your agent to know which properties to show you.
This is a better solution that your agent showing you properties way over your price range. You could fall in love with a country farm you cannot afford. After that, the lower price point properties just don’t have the same appeal to you.
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
2. Sellers are more likely to take your offer seriously when you have been pre-approved.
3. It lessens stress knowing you have already been approved by the lender. It gives you assurance that the buying process will be smoother.
Step 4. Hire the right real estate agent.
There are real estate agents, and there’s the right real estate agent.
When you are looking for a home in Charlottesville’s lovely countryside, you need someone who is not just a residential real estate agent. You want someone who specializes in selling country properties, farms, and ranches, and that would be me, Pam Dent.
My knowledge of the area, of the ranches, of Charlottesville’s land itself came many years before I was even actively involved in real estate. I grew up exploring the countryside on the back of a horse.
I raised my kids in Charlottesville’s countryside. I know what you need to look for when purchasing land, being a long time owner myself.
My skills as a real estate agent allow me to guide you through the home buying process, aid you during the negotiation, provide assistance for all the paperwork, and share with you information about anything you’d like to know as a countryside home owner in Charlottesville.
With my skills, experience and professionalism, our home buying process will be less challenging and stressful.
Step 5. Find the acreage you like and make an offer.
This is the most exciting part! This is the part you usually see on TV, the part where buyers visit different properties, checking out the features and amenities, seeing if the farms offer what they need.
This is also a really difficult part. This is what the decision of where you’ll be living and what type of real estate you’ll be buying heavily relies on. This is the part you have to get right because it will affect your future drastically.
Start by looking at the homes in your price range. Bring your “Needs and Wants” list and take note which farms or ranches fit your list.
Since this step is crucial, let me share with you my top considerations if you are buying a country home. Carefully read the different factors you must make note of. Knowing these considerations can make a huge difference in the selection process.
Top considerations for buying a country property
- Location. When you are buying a city or suburban real estate property, you want a home that’s in a safe neighborhood, close to school and other amenities, easy commute to work, etc. The same things factor in when you are looking for a Charlottesville country home.
Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself :
- How close (or far) do you want to be to shopping, hospitals, and many other amenities?
- Should there be a water feature close to the property?
- Is there access to electricity, water, cable and other utilities? There will usually be electricity but country farms will have well and septic. There will rarely be cable but often dsl is available.
- What’s the road condition?
- Do you want a place y that’s easily accessible from the main road, or one that’s miles off from the main road?
- What’s the productivity of the soil type in the area?
Also, know why the home is being sold. Learn its history. Drive around the area of the acreage you are considering to purchase and see what the neighbors are like.
Get a feel of the area and decide if you can live in that setting. Visit more than once, on different times of the day, to see if your first impression of the farm still holds, and if you still like it.
- Type of country property. Think of your definition of country living and know the type of property you intend to purchase. For some buyers, country living means a home with country views, easy access to water, electricity and other utilities, and neighbors a couple of minutes away. For others it means being surrounded by extensive land, with its own wells, a reserve power generator, and where the nearest neighbors are a 10 to 15 minute drive away.
What will you do with the land? Do you plan to raise livestock? Are you going to use it as a horse farm or as an agricultural land? Will you hunt? Or do you just want a get away?
- Property size. The size of farm you will purchase depends on what you are going to use it for. It also depends on your purchasing power.
If you plan to use the property as a vacation home, how many acres do you need to secure privacy and retreat? If you’re going to start a Charlottesville horse farm, how many acres is a good start-up size? If you intend to use it for outdoor and recreational activities like hunting, how many acres would be sufficient?
- Zoning and property restrictions. Zoning rules vary on different types of property. Generally, farms with 20 acres or more are agricultural lands, which allows all types of animals and livestock. If you intend to hunt in your land, you need sufficient acreage in a rural location, and it should neighbor with lands that also have large acreage, but remember that you will only be able to hunt on neighboring properties with permission.
Find out building codes, zoning and restrictions. Can you build a chicken coop on the property? How about a ranch? How about a pond?
Check with the seller and the municipality for any existing easements in the area.
Know if the property is part of a conservation area or under conservation easement.
- Neighbors. You may think that being out in the vast countryside, you’ll have little chance to see your neighbors so it doesn’t really matter what kind you have.
However, you have to remember that neighbors are a great help especially if you have questions about how to develop the acreage. They have extensive knowledge of the land and the weather. They know what to do during emergencies.
Significant research goes into finding the right property.
Take your time in deciding which Central Virginia real estate to buy.
Once you’ve chosen “the one”, work with your real estate agent and negotiate an offer based on the comparables in the area.
In your offer, include any contingencies, like home inspections, well and septic tests, building and safety code requirement for the house, etc. You have to be specific in writing any requests and repairs to be included in the sale.
Determine the amount of “earnest money” you’ll be putting in.
When both parties are in agreement regarding the terms, you can then put your name on the Purchase and Sale Agreement form.
Step 6. Get a home inspection and a land survey
You have to know what you’re buying.
A home inspection is conducted so you’ll know everything that’s going on in the property, from the condition of the house, to the plumbing, the structural strength, and of course, the deal breakers. You may also want to have an environmental study (think home inspection for the land).
A land survey will tell you the exactly where the property line is. You’ll know where your farm begins and ends through this survey.
These surveys and inspections should be clearly stated as contingencies when you make an offer.
Step 7. Secure your loan.
This is the part where you choose the lender. Before you decide, shop around for mortgages with the lowest interest rates and best programs.
Choose the mortgage where you’ll be financially comfortable. Be aware that many mortgage companies do not lend on farms and land. Your Realtor will be able to give you a list of lenders who can assist you with this type of property.
Step 8. Get a property appraisal.
Your lender will want to ensure it is paying the right market value of the Charlottesville acreage.
A professional appraiser will be hired to check the farm’s value.
Step 9. Prepare the necessary paperwork and finalize the deal.
Once the terms are set, and the property is appraised, you can use the result for renegotiating the terms if needed. Your agent will negotiate on your behalf.
To verify if the seller is the rightful owner of the home, your attorney or closing company will use the service of a title company to take care of all the paperwork.
Step 10. Close the deal.
This is the easiest yet costliest part of the buying process. Review everything prior to the closing, going over the fine details, ensuring everything is to your liking before handing over the payment to the seller.
Congratulations! You’ve now reached the end of your country home buying journey. The final step is to move in to your new home.
Call me, Pam Dent, at 434-960-0161. I am your golf and equestrian property specialist here in Charlottesville. I am also a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, as well as being experienced in working with first time buyers. I have lived here in Central Virginia almost all my life and have a deep love for the countryside and its preservation. My long involvement with equestrian activities, along with my professionalism and in-depth knowledge of the area makes me uniquely suited to take care of all your real estate needs. You, my client, are my first priority, and I am dedicated to ensuring that your real estate experience goes smoothly.
I look forward to hearing from you.