Ask a Realtor: Water, septic and building considerations factor in to value of land
November 10, 2017
Dear Joan: I am working on buying some land, something I have wanted to do for a very long time, but I am just learning what I do not know. Since there is no "town" water, no sewer, no cable TV and no driveway, what do I need to know before I make an offer? Do I need water rights to get water? Can I dig a septic anywhere?
I think I can get a satellite for TV, not sure about internet/cell service. Do I need a paved driveway to get in and out in the winter? The property I have found has great views, and that is very important to me, but I am just figuring out that is just the start of what I need to know when I am making my final decision.
Dear Potential Land Owner: I am excited that you want to buy and eventually build on some land of your own. I presume you are talking about an acreage out of town, and then yes, you have a lot to learn and will need a very knowledgeable Realtor who can help you.
The need for knowledgeable help is true if you are buying a large ranch or a small acreage, for many reasons. Water will be important, but you do not need water rights for household or domestic uses. You need to be certain that you are buying a "legal" parcel, so that you will be entitled to get a well permit from the state and a building permit from the county.
“As always, life is about tradeoffs. If you find a beautiful piece of ground that has good water, good soil and slope and is easy to build on, then it will be more expensive. If you find a parcel that has the views you want but has water and/or terrain challenges, then it will usually be much less money and may or may not be worth the added effort to make it a great place for you and your family.”
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Your Realtor can put you in touch with the appropriate parties so you can determine if it is indeed buildable. Some areas are known for very deep and/or hard water sources, and that will affect the cost of you getting an adequate, potable supply. Your Realtor should be able to put you in touch with someone to help determine the water situation on your property and, if need be, help find alternatives, such as a spring or cistern, if there are difficulties.
What type of septic and where the septic and leach field go will need to be approved by the county. f you are near a creek or a river, you will have to be back a certain distance and have the system engineered so that it does not leach into the running surface water.
You will have to check with a local internet provider to determine what you will need to get the services you want. A paved driveway is a luxury but not necessary if you have a professional put in the dirt road with proper road base, water bars and good drainage.
As always, life is about tradeoffs. If you find a beautiful piece of ground that has good water, good soil and slope and is easy to build on, then it will be more expensive. If you find a parcel that has the views you want but has water and/or terrain challenges, then it will usually be much less money and may or may not be worth the added effort to make it a great place for you and your family.
Choose your Realtor wisely and she or he will put you in touch with everyone you need to know to get the information to make your exciting, life-changing decision. Best of luck to you.
Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-337-7777 or .
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