So you have decided to make your dream of buying a lifestyle block and moving to the country come true.
Congratulations on getting this far. But before you make the leap there is much to learn about what buying a lifestyle block entails.
Lifestyle blocks are a different purchase to other types of residential property and while due diligence is important on all property purchases, it is particularly crucial in this case due to the complexities involved.
Why do you want to buy a lifestyle block?
Firstly, you need to identify why you want a lifestyle block and what you plan to do with it.
Do you want to plant an orchard or run livestock? Do you want to have a few chickens and a sheep and goat or two or a cow to milk? Do you imagine an extensive garden or room for a horse or three?
Do you have a specific vision or dream you want to realise or are you open to letting the properties you discover help decide for you?
Do you want to buy an already developed lifestyle block, an under-developed one that you can work at and mould to your personal vision, or a bare block of land to develop from scratch?
Do you plan to run it as a commercial endeavour or as a lifestyle hobby?
Any of these activities will inform your choice of lifestyle block. If you have a specific vision, a buyer’s agent can help you find a property suited to you.
Consider carefully if you have time and energy for a lifestyle block
Another important thing to understand is the time, physical effort and commitment involved in managing a bigger property, especially where animals and larger lawns to mow are involved.
Animals require daily care and attention and you will not be able to just up and leave at a moment's notice to go away for a long weekend or a holiday without having made arrangements for their care.
Bigger animals take confidence to manage and you need to be able to afford to feed and care for them properly and pay for vet bills.
Selling a lifestyle block? Lifestyle properties are one of the harder types of property to sell. However, you can ensure the process runs smoothly by making sure you get a suitable and competent lifestyle block real estate agent.
Questions to ask about a lifestyle block
Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself and the real estate agent about a lifestyle property before you commit to buying are:
- What is the soil type?
- What is the permitted land use – are livestock allowed?
- Is it sub-dividable?
- What is the type and quality of fencing? The ideal safe fencing for horses is different to what is suitable for sheep, while if you plan to have lambs, their needs are different again. You may need to have electric fencing to prevent stock from wandering.
- Local school options and school buses
- Are you prepared to ferry children to and from extra-curricular activities?
- Travel times, distances, petrol costs
- Broadband and cell phone coverage – rural areas do not yet all have the fast broadband speed of urban areas and some places are cell phone dead spots.
- Flood proneness or slip hazards.
- Existing building and resource consent status.
- Whether you will need or be able to get building and resource consent for your plans.
- Is the house more important to you, or what you want to do with the land? If the house in a rural setting is the focus you may not need as much land as you would otherwise.
- What is the source of water? Town supply, bore or rain collection? Is up to NZ drinking water standards and is it enough for your needs?
- Sewage system – Septic tanks are common in rural areas. Cleaning these prior to settlement can be a condition of purchase.
- Shelter belts to protect animals from weather extremes?
DUE DILIGENCE ISSUES SPECIFIC TO LIFESTYLE BLOCKS
When looking at buying a lifestyle property it is important to question the real estate agent thoroughly. They are obliged to tell you of any issues they are aware of.
It is also important to have the back up of a property lawyer or conveyancer to check on such things as:
Easements – in rural areas easements are often in place that allow neighbours access to such things as water supply, shared driveways and access to their land across the lifestyle property. In the case of shared drives, find out about potential costs for maintenance.
Land covenants – covenants may be in place carrying conditions that could prevent your business, building or animal keeping plans from being realized. Covenants can be used to ensure the buyer of a lifestyle block cannot object to neighbouring farming activities or build a house in certain areas. Covenants can cover the type of land use that is allowed, prevent certain domestic animals or require that the land be maintained to a prescribed standard. It’s very important to read the fine print before committing to any purchase.
Zoning rules and activities on surrounding properties – rural life is not always the peaceful, quiet environment you might imagine so be sure you know what to expect, for instance effluent spreading, harvesting, fertilizer spreading and spraying.
GST – Ask your lawyer or accountant to find out if GST will apply. The vendor may be registered for GST and the property price may be inclusive or exclusive of GST. GST usually depends on the size and scale of the property. Most agree unless it is a large lifestyle property being run as a commercial enterprise it’s best not to register for GST. Find out more about property tax here.
BUYING A BARE BLOCK OF LAND
Buying a bare block of land is one way to get a foot on the lifestyle block ladder, but there are issues you will need to understand and resolve.
- Bare land is often not connected to water and sewage systems.
- Will you get resource consent for your plans, including sewage management?
- How will you get water to your property?
- How will you get power to the land? In some cases connecting to the electrical grid will be prohibitive and you will need to explore your off-grid options.
- What is the cost of putting in an access road if needed?
- What covenants will affect your plans, for instance the size and standard of the dwelling?
- Find out about council mandated setback zones which may dictate where you can and can’t build.
Make sure you check the Sale and Purchase Agreement to ensure the transfer of existing resource consents for water and sewage.
The need for resource consent can depend on whether you are planning a commercial operation.
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Article created February 19, 2021 | About
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