Buying “Country” or “Rural” property in Sonoma County, California!

CountryPropertyI’ve just complete the third part of my trilogy on “How to Buy and Sell Rural or “Country” property in the Press Democrat. I was limited to 1,000 words for each “Column” and could have used many more great stories. But I’ll let this three part series speak to the complexities of either buying or selling “Country” property. Here’s Pt I. I’ll print the other two in upcoming days. If you have any feedback let me know!

Buying “Country Property” So you want to raise some chickens and things? Pt I

situation. I gave techniques on writing offers with a minimum of s level of sophistication and comfort level) in order to make your ” property on public sewer and water on a subdivision lot (3500 to 6000 sqft). Now I want to explore the replete with multiple acres of land (an acre is , property was tough and complex.

The biggest differences in the two types of property is generally lot size and on-site “systems” for sewage disposal and water. The thought of sewage disposal and water supply ON THEIR LAND is somewhat shocking. No treatment plant miles away but an ON-SITE septic tank with leach lines just yards from home. Water?—from your own Well which means both systems go into and come OUT of the same land. Takes some getting used to.

Many buyers don’t know just HOW big an acre really is. For instance, I had a client insisting on a 5 acre parcel. He grew up in the “Avenues” of San Francisco (5,000 sqft lots) and wanted “wide open spaces”. I showed him a home on one acre. He looked at me and stammered, “I had NO idea 5 acres was THIS BIG!” He ended up buying a ½ acre and thinks he moved to Montana.
Multiple offers also occur when buying “country” property. Well priced country property is very much in demand. Techniques for buying property with multiple offers still apply but beware of waiving your contingencies on inspections. The “City or Town” property may require just a Pest Control AND Home Inspection reports. Country Property? You can expect many more. And the sheer expense of these reports means you’d best REALLY want the home. As we mentioned you now have a septic system and a well. You’ll want them BOTH inspected. As always, a well prepared Realtor may have these on file as bringing a property to market is very similar for City properties. The Realtor may also have a recent survey as well.

Here are common reports for buying country property and the costs associated with each:
  * Septic Inspection- $325 to $375 + Tank pumping: $375 per 1200 gallon tank.
  * Well Production/system inspection: $370.00
  * Water Testing varies from $135 to $435 depending on WHEN you need it. The shorter the     time  the costs go up.
  *Permit Consultant: $90.00 per hour
  *Surveyor- Based on land size, terrain, difficulty in finding markers. A 2 person team at $200-$225/hour. Phase 1 toxic inspections $2,000 to $3,000 depending on site complexities.
Remember, allow yourself TIME to do your inspections. Many of these consultants are a week or two  OUT and reports may take a week or two to process.  Consult with your Realtor and the listing agent for how much time is available for reports. Caveat: if you DON’T buy the home you STILL must pay the costs of the reports. Let ‘s explore these reports and what they cover:
*Septic System: Mike Treinen, R.E.H.S (Registered Environmental Health Specialist, inspecting septic systems. His inspection requires tank pumping of effluent prior to inspection. He will examine if the system is filed at  the Permit Resource Management Division of Sonoma County (PRMD). You, the buyer or seller, can by going to entering the AP# on the MLS print  out. Mike’s s got to know WHERE to look for tank and leach lines. Areas of concern; failing leach lines,  cracked or damaged septic tanks and water table areas where water intrusion can fail a system. Mike looks to see if the septic tank “Baffles” are working properly. The baffles  control flow to and from the tank to the leach lines. Leach lines will disperse the sewage effluent to the system. The phrase ” The grass is always refers to a system in distress! But was also a cute book title by Erma Bombeck. system. The older the property the more prone to failure or repair. will do a very thorough ll learn the gallons per minute or GPM of your well, TYPE of pump you have, how much water is being used when the system is pumping, plus water testing for Bacteria, E.Coli, Arsenic, Nitrates, etc in the water. You can test water further for lead, pesticide scan and toxics. All reports? Expect to pay $550.00.
Remember, Sonoma County agricultural was THE economy for years. Many chemicals were used in the “old” days without the best standard of care. DDT, old underground oil or gas storage tanks plus many other chemicals now banned still reside in soils throughout the county at various levels. I’ve seen high deposits of residue DDT to a worker wearing tennis shoes having them melt underfoot from an old battery acid deposit site! And while Petaluma was the “chicken capital” of the U.S. for years it also left a “nitrate” belt of contaminated ground water. Talk to yourRealtor and please do your homework!


One thought on “Buying “Country” or “Rural” property in Sonoma County, California!”

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