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What you should know before buying acreage


May 30, 2019 5min read

It’s no secret that modern life is busy and many people are looking for ways to slow down and spend more time in nature. Moving to the country is a commonly shared Australian dream but many inner-city home owners worry that rural property is beyond their level of expertise. If you’re ready for a change of scenery and need some guidance, we’ve collected the top considerations to make when buying acreage.

First things first, what exactly is an acreage?

An acreage is a property that’s at least one acre in size and more often than not has been used for agricultural purposes. Because of the size and history of the land, it’s important to consider every aspect of rural living before you head for the hills.

Location

Start by determining the lifestyle you’re after and let that influence the location. Maybe you want a block with plenty of space and privacy, yet working in the city means you’ll need to be close to public transport or freeway options.

The value of land is generally more stable in metropolitan areas and land releases often occur closer to capital cities. At the same time the further away you are from a major city or town, the cheaper the property and therefore the more land you can get for your money.

There are endless pro’s and con’s when it comes to acreage, and you should sit down with your family and weigh up what’s going to work for your personal circumstances.

Land is more than just land

As with any new property, there are a number of factors to look into in terms of the aspect of the land, soil composition, tree placement, underground water and utility access. The aspect of your new land will affect the position of your home and therefore your energy efficiency. Blocks that have a north facing home are easier to keep warm in winter and cool in summer, which will help you save on energy bills. Before you buy, it’s also a smart decision to research the history of the land and what it was used for, as well as if there were any previous structures on the block. The kind of soil lurking underneath a block can have repercussions decades after it’s built (see our blog post on buying land for more information) and depending on the prior purpose of the property (eg. agricultural farm) and how old it is, there can be dangerous materials such as asbestos in old buildings or even the soil! When it comes to large trees, removing them can be costly so you should consider if they are going to be too close to your desired build.

Another factor to consider is how your property will connect to a central sewage or water system if it doesn’t already. A water tank is an option however, during the construction of your new home you will be required to supply potable water to the site. If you need to add services such as electricity, gas, NBN or septic and drainage pits, these can prove quite costly. It’s important to know the history of the property you’re purchasing and figure out if utility connections are already in place.

Planning controls

Before buying, carry out your own due diligence and look into any restrictions on the land title such as easements or covenants. Local planning controls have the potential to affect your future build so it’s best to be looking with a potential home design already in mind. If your prospective property is surrounded by vacant blocks do some research into council planning, zoning and land use for the surrounding sites. This is to make sure that after you build you’re not living in the middle of an industrial estate or right next to a new freeway – factors that can affect your property’s value down the track!

Finance

So you’ve found the perfect block, now it’s time to consider how you’ll pay for it! As with all land purchases, banks are concerned with the marketability of a property so this is where location can sometimes affect eligibility for approval. Lenders want to know that in the instance of someone defaulting on their mortgage they can recoup their losses. Given that you’re not planning on running a farming business, an agricultural property should fall under a residential loan which means avoiding the higher interest rates of a commercial loan. There are several things banks and valuers tend to look at when determining your borrowing – the main one being that your property won’t gross any more than $20,000 a year from agricultural activities. All banks are different so it’s best to check with your preferred lender, but generally once a property makes sufficient income to meet operating expenses and sustain any farming then it is no longer considered a lifestyle block.

Finding the right builder and product

Building a house is a big decision and you need to partner with a company that has your best interests at heart. At Porter Davis we recognise that we’re not just building homes, we’re building dreams – and for that reason we seek to provide our clients with complete transparency and support for the entirety of the construction process (as well as afterwards!).

In addition, finding a product that suits your land and lifestyle can be tricky without the right guidance. Luckily, we’ve taken the guesswork out of finding a home that fits and have several designs well-suited to bigger properties.

The Hillside is a home that triumphantly blends the best of both worlds and is for our Victorian customers. It comes in two different size options; the 35 and 41. Stretching wide across 30 metres, this is a home designed especially for those with bigger land. Enjoy urban flair in a rural settling with a spacious 4 bedroom layout, centred around family living with multiple communal spaces. Luxury is top priority, with options available for a generously sized alfresco, powder room and walk-in pantry.

For all our Queenslanders, the Hillview is our answer to contemporary rural living, and comes in 3 different size options; the 30, 35 and 40. With the master bedroom set on the left wing and the other 3 bedrooms on the right, the central living area is designed to be the heart of the home – and what a heart! Design and functionality are top of mind in this design with multiple entertaining areas, open plan living and a study nook to create a space for every need.

When it comes to land, buy with your head not with your heart. Make sure that you’ve undertaken the necessary research before purchasing and then let us do the rest! Buying and building is a big job and it’s nice to have a team of professionals on your side.

If you’re interested in finding out more about building with Porter Davis or for our Procedure of Purchase, please contact our VIC or QLD teams, who will who will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

For all general enquiries, call 1800 767 837

Images taken from our Hillside 35 home design