Purchasing Rural Property In Lane County
Lane County is one of two Oregon counties stretching from the High Cascades to Pacific shores… a 10,000 foot change in elevation! Rainfall varies from 100 inches a year on Cascade slopes to 40 inches in the valley. With a third of a million people distributed across nearly 5,000 square miles, Lane is a relatively large, sparsely populated county. Most of the urban population is centered around the Eugene-Springfield area. The rest of the county, including smaller communities like Cottage Grove and Florence, is distinctively rural. This explains the wide variety of of country property for sale in Lane, which, when compared to other West Coast areas, is very reasonably priced.
Buying country property is often more about the land than the house. The preamble to the Realtor’s Code of Ethics, adopted in 1913 (along with the first licensing provisions) begins with the statement “Under all is the land.” When deciding on an urban home’s floor plan, the foundation the house sits on can be easily overlooked, being invariably trusted to remain firm. If it doesn’t, the house and it’s owners, though right in the middle of town, can suffer the consequence. An awareness and knowledge of the land that is “under all” becomes even more crucial when purchasing rural property.
Lane County’s diverse physical geography can have a pronounced affect on site and life quality. The terrain determines, to some extent, issues like rainfall; how much solar energy is available; the best access route; what kinds of crops and animals can be raised; wildfire resistance; and how the land will drain in a winter storm. The soils and underlying rock determine how successful farming, septic systems, and wells will be. Areas with thin or poorly drained soils can present serious challenges for septic systems as well as agriculture. Well water can be scant and mildly contaminated in some places, plentiful and pure in others. Timbered properties and adjacent forest lands introduce additional issues like clear cut logging or herbicide use. Most importantly for many prospective buyers, rural properties can be difficult to finance through conventional lenders.
Purchasing bare ground in Lane County requires further study if the land is to be fully used or improved. Zoning, uniformly coded throughout Oregon, controls how land maybe used or divided. Acreages zoned for farm or forest use are not always build-able. For a home site, a parcel must, at a minimum, be zoned accordingly, be a legal lot of record, and have reasonable access to obtain permits. If a special use permit is involved, there maybe additional requirements. Along with primary home sites, substantial outbuildings like barns, riding arenas, and secondary living quarters must be permitted. It is important to thoroughly verify build-ability before closing on unimproved property no matter what the zoning.
Enough said! Ideally, purchasing rural property should be a very satisfying experience. To help resolve the many details and assure satisfaction, prospective buyers are well advised to work with real estate agents experienced in country property.
Roy Keene has worked as a licensed real estate agent and forester for 30 years in Lane County specializing in rural property.