While the idea of owning a ranch or farm property
certainly sounds romantic—there are a lot of things you need to consider
first before buying in Riverside County to help make your investment a
successful one. To make the most of the rural living experience, you’ll
need to do some research—here’s a guide on where to start.

1) Find the right ranch real estate agent.
Most agents are well-versed in their local city or town properties, so
be sure to work with an agent who has experience with rural homes and
can help give you insights into key decisions and things to consider
when shopping for a farm or ranch.

2) Proximity to markets. How far away are local markets and
distribution channels? If you have to drive 60 miles to bring your
farm-grown produce to a local farmers market, is it worth your time and
money? What other farms in your area are also selling their goods at
these markets?

3) Infrastructure. Are there outbuildings or barns on the property?
Is there fencing? What kinds of equipment are being sold with the land?
Will you need to invest in any heavy equipment? With the help of your
local real estate agent, make sure these questions have answers before
purchasing a property which might require significant infrastructure
overhaul.

4) Assess the land. If you can, visit the property a few times while
in escrow to investigate farming conditions. Some things to look for
include the slopes, how many hours of sunlight will your land see, and
if the land floods after a heavy rain.

5) Good neighbors are important. Neighbors make the neighborhood, so
try meet them before you close if possible– this will ensure you have
folks on your side when you move in.

6) Tax status and zoning. What were area property taxes over the
past few years? Are there any zoning exclusions or special taxes? Will
it depend on how you use the land? Spend time discussing with your
county tax assessor so you can plan accordingly.

7) Soil quality. Investigating your soil quality data before closing
is a smart idea. You can find web soil survey information on the Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) website by entering the farm’s
address. You’ll want to know if your soil has any special conditions
before making an offer. Also, if you’re considering organic production,
you should test the soil for any chemical residue or heavy metals that
may limit your ability to grow organically.

8) Water quality. Water is the most important resource to consider
before purchasing a farm or ranch. Water rights law is complicated, so
you’ll want to make sure you understand your rights. Review the water
certificate and understand what it means in terms of water usage and
area allowed for irrigation. Where’s your drinking water coming from? If
it’s from a well, test it for contaminants. What are the water sources?
Will you have an irrigation ditch? Does the property feature any wells,
ponds, or creeks to irrigate from?

9) How much time will I need? People often buy farms or ranches only
to end up devoting all of their free time to looking after it. Factor in
how much time you’ll have after commuting to/from your job and don’t
forget to estimate at least 20 hours a week for maintenance throughout
your dream property.

10) Does the land have a story? Who lived on this land previously?
And before that? Are there any interesting stories or local legends? You
might be surprised how much you can learn from potential neighbors. If
you discover the property you’re considering has a rich history, you
might want to consider how to weave this into your story.

Still not sure where to start? Choosing to buy a farm or ranch can be
tough but, with the right realty expert on your side, it could turn out
to be a really exciting experience. Reach out to your local real estate
pro for more one-on-one guidance throughout this process.