6 tips on buying a country home

Some of us just can't imagine living within easy listening range of our neighbors. Whether it's a conversation from a backyard barbecue or sounds of the 6 o'clock news through an open window, we need open spaces and plenty of distance between our home and a neighbor.

If a home with acreage is on your wish list, there are plenty of options here in Tulare County. I can help you find homes on the valley floor and in the nearby foothills. You'll even see some in my listings.

As you shop for that perfect country home that offers solitude and a break from city living, there are at least six things you need to keep in mind when considering a home.

Check with local officials about zoning ordinances in the area, not only for your parcel but also for land near you.

You will want to know ahead of time if there are restrictions on the property, especially for adding structures, like a shop, barn, or other out building. You will also want to know how other parcels are zoned, just in case you don't want a new shopping center, school, or other entity as a neighbor in the near future.

Smells and activities
Acquaint yourself with the area, and perhaps even people, to learn about life in that location. This is an important factor in the Central Valley where agriculture plays a large economic role. There are smells and activities that happen throughout the year depending on the crops or livestock. Allergies and dust sensitivity can be a large factor in your quality of life if you don't know ahead of time how the land is used.

Environmental conditions
Natural hazards are also a factor to keep in mind. Is the area prone to flooding in the rainy season? What is the water quality, and what is the depth to groundwater if you are on a well? Is the area prone to grass fires, wild land fires, or other hazards? Be sure to ask questions about the property.

For those of you looking for property in the foothills, it's important to look carefully at the terrain. How secure is the foundation? Is the area likely to experience a rock or mud slide? Inspection reports should help point out any deficiencies.

Not all parcels enjoy street access. Sometimes you have to drive over someone else's property to get to your own. Make sure easements are recorded to maintain your access. It's also necessary in some circumstances to have easements for utilities and other needs.

Utilities and other household services are readily accessible to city dwellers but not so for those who live the country. Water, power, septic, propane, cable/satellite television, telephone -- there is a long list of services you will need to check.

By answering the right questions you can enjoy the comfort and peace of country living and not miss most of the conveniences of the city.