The Top 5 Considerations For Rural Land Buyers: Doing For Self And Due Diligence

The Top 5 Considerations For Rural Land Buyers: Doing For Self And Due Diligence

rural land

Photo: Griffin McLaurin Jr. points to his 10 acres of farmland in Mileston, Mississippi, May 9, 2001. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

Buying real estate is always a daunting task. As more Black people become interested in purchasing rural land, there is a growing need to learn the ins and outs of being landowners.

In 2020, 19 Black families teamed together to create The Freedom Georgia Initiative. The collective formed a limited-liability corporation (LLC) and purchased 96.71 acres of land in Toomsboro, Georgia, a town of 471 people about 119 miles southwest of Atlanta.

Other Black families and individuals teamed up to purchase land in Northern Georgia in 2021 in an effort spearheaded by two Nation of Islam members — the Hereafter Farms. Development is already underway.

The goal of Hereafter Farms is for the families to live debt-free, to be collective landowners, learn to live off the farm to be self-sufficient, and not to rely on the U.S. government, according to a YouTube video entitled “Buying Land: Black People Building A Community with Unity” from the farm organizers.

Here are the top five considerations for Black rural land buyers when doing for self and due diligence.

Due diligence is the investigation by a business or person that is conducted before entering into any agreement or contract with another party.

1. Get to know the lay of the land

Land buyers should do an up-close and personal look at the land before they buy it. Check out the neighboring lands and ask the neighbors questions about the area. For example, what does the land look like after heavy rain? Visit the area at different times and different days of the week, RE/MAX real estate agent Marvin Ward told Rethink: Rural, a platform operated by the owner and seller of rural land in the southern U.S.

Use Google Earth to view property from above or use a drone. You will be able to see problems with erosion or nearby negative physical attributes. Some real estate agents with experience selling land might have drone videos of the property.

2. Check the zoning

It is important to consider any special zoning regulations are in effect for the property. Make sure to check with the county zoning commission before finalizing any purchase agreement. Zoning rules may vary from state to state.

3. Location is always important

With rural properties, it is always important to find out how close you are to vital services such as schools, churches, grocery stores and other conveniences.

4. Get professional help

Buying real estate, especially in rural areas, is not something you should necessarily do on your own. Turn to a professional for an accurate survey of your property, advised Ward. Hire qualified counsel for researching any title issues (liens, judgments, roll-back taxes, etc.). You will also need a professional to help doing soil testing to see how viable the land is for farming, if that is your plan.

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5. Getting on the grid

You may be heading to a rural area to get off the grid. But to have electricity and a flowing water supply, you will have to be on the grid.

Of course, it’s best to purchase a lot in a rural community that already has utility connections. But if you’re not yet connected to the power grid, buyers should keep in mind the expenses they may incur in getting a power source connected to their land, according to Land Think, an Atlanta-based provider of land-investing knowledge.

Generally, electrical connections are more expensive than other utilities such as septic and water. A permanent source of power is vital in order to be granted a Certificate of Occupancy.

Photo: Griffin McLaurin Jr. points to the Mileston, Miss., farmland and wetlands bordering his 10 acres, May 9, 2001. “Much of that land used to belong to my family,” recalled McLaurin. “Now all I have is these 10 acres that I plant my crops on.” he said. McLaurin’s father was one of several farmers who lost land to a white car dealer in Holmes County, Miss. The dealer acquired hundreds of acres from Black people by lending them money for used pickup trucks, then foreclosing on them when they missed their payments. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)