Rural Property: A buyer’s guide

1.  “NEEDS”:  We researched what we needed to know about buying a rural place  and made a list of all our requirements for buying a property. We would not settle for anything less. As it turned out, we only settled for “less” on one    item on the list, and that was not living near highways.  Turns out our property’s advantage is actually because it is accessible to so many rural connecting roads and highways.  Consider whether you have a business that depends on people coming to you.  Being near to a main highway is advantageous. You don’t have to live on it, just within an easy driving distance.  We are.

2.  BUDGET:  Of course we had our budget, and we had a house on 3 acres  to sell, and we were not in any hurry.  We did not put our house on the market until we found a place we wanted.  Be sure you don’t overextend yourself.  You can always “move up” later.  Make offers under the listing price. 

3.  FUTURE:  The next determination was what is the housing and growth indicators for a particular area.   We did not want to live somewhere that would be flooded with new home building and built out in a few years.  That had just happened to us.  Not a bad thing, but we wanted some distance from housing communities. Go to the city planners and see what’s on their master plan.

We also could see what communities focused on farms and agriculture.  And the communities who kept their countryside fairly neat and orderly without a lot of housing in disrepair or junked.  Good county maintenance should not be overlooked.  Regular road maintenance and mowing and trimming should be apparent. 

4.  COMMUNITY:  Another important consideration is medical facilities.  Doctors, dentists, hospitals, emergency support.  We felt better knowing they were not far.  Find out what school system you are in.  Our address is not in city limits and we are nearer another town so we are under that town’s school district.   Research the school system and it’s  ranking. 

5.  MUST HAVES:  Then you have to get down to a list of expectations for the property itself you want to buy.  There are lots of considerations.  Do some reading and make sure you know all the pros and cons.  The realtors will not always be knowledgeable.    It’s up to you to know that a dry gully running through the property means it carries water regularly. We found that out after going back to a property we were interested in after a rain and found water running all directions over the surfaces towards a nearby creek, it was overflowing and looking  more like a river. 

You must inspect your property during the week, on weekends, during the day, at night, and after rain.  It is most important to do this.  Will you be allowed to have a well?  Where does the water go in a torrential downpour?  Will your animals be safe in bad weather?  Your Realtor may not know.  Talk to the local USDA office; is the property registered with them?    Most ag properties will be.  Find out the history of the property. What limitations as to usage of the property?  USDA office can tell you.    What kind of predators are in the area? What kind of fencing will you need to install? We research to find out that alpacas and chickens have specific needs; we had to get rid of the barbed wire for those pastures and replace it.

As a result, it took lots of  weekend driving, but we were ready.  The kids were in college away from home and we had no weekend commitments.  I did all the research and assembled lists or properties we wanted to drive to.  We did not contact any realtors unless we found something we wanted to consider.    Logging into and lots of other real estate websites and  setting up searches so I would be notified of particular properties that met our criteria.  It did get frustrating after a period of time of not finding what we wanted.  After several months, we were able to fine tune our search to particular areas that we would want to live in.  That was very important. Driving all over, examining the towns and the countryside, was important research. 

After two years, the luck factor kicked in.  A property had been on the market for a long time and had not sold.  The owner decided to split up the acreage and sell them separately which meant the house and  104 acres was priced within our budget.  Well actually, it did stretch it somewhat, but it was a great deal and met our list of needs.  She sold her remaining 154 acres to someone else, and kept 100 acres.

So, after some frustration in not finding what we wanted for two years, we found exactly what we wanted.  It was worth the wait.  We are in a secluded area; all agriculture.  Our neighbors farm and they will not have housing developments.  We have a nice little town nearby with good schools, a grocery, a few restaurants, bank, fire dept. and police  a few minutes away and we belong to the Chamber of Commerce and the Caddo Mills Historical Society.  Greenville is the closest large town about 15 minutes away that has everything else we need that ours does not, plus a great refurbished downtown square, as well as hospitals, doctors, dentists, etc, and a junior college, a mall,  and lots of businesses and restaurants, hotels, and community arts.

It pays to take your time and do your research before moving to the country. Make a “needs” list and stick to it the best you can and you  will find your perfect place.

Hurricane Ike

Well, Ike was a huge  storm that impacted several states.  It was a huge storm that stayed together and traveled up from the Gulf and north through Texas then northeast from Texas into Arkansas, Missouri,  and into Illinois and Ohio.  The devastation is massive.

The state of Texas did a great job of coordinating evacuations and all went smoothly.  They are rescuing those who stayed behind as well as rescuing the livestock that are stranded.  Those who stayed behind say they will never stay behind again when an evacuation order is given.  One neighborhood had 14 houses on fire.  Sometimes it’s what the storm triggers that creates destruction as well, like fallen trees killing people, electric lines down all around, gas leaks, etc. 

Here is info from an e-mail alert I am on for livestock and animal rescue, to report dead or stranded animals or to call for hay or shelter.  Several states are giving assistance in the rescue and shelter.  Please call the numbers below for assistance. Dialing 2-1-1 will find you help also.

Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 * Austin, Texas 78711 * (800) 550-8242 * FAX (512) 719-0719
Bob Hillman, DVM * Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550-8242, ext. 710, or
Hurricane Ike– September 15, 2008
Animal response to Hurricane Ike continues to be a team effort, as the issues are much larger than the resources of any one agency or association.  The TAHC statewide has worked with the livestock industry to establish sites for emergency shelters, and with local governments, agencies and associations to develop animal issues committees.
+ The Texas Animal Health Commission continues is supporting the disaster district committees in the affected area with persons who have animal and livestock expertise.  The agency has established a small area command in the Austin headquarters, and is one 30+ agencies in the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management.
The TAHC’s Area Command can be reached at 800-550-8242, ext 296.
+ At the request of the TAHC, members of a National Veterinary Response Team (NVRT) are now being deployed by the federal government to assist in Texas recovery operations.  Animal response teams from both Florida and New Mexico have volunteered to provide assistance to Texas via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) system and are awaiting final authorization.
+ A joint TAHC and USDA Veterinary Services team is working in the Beaumont area, assessing large animal issues from the air and ground.  The scope of livestock death loss is not yet known.  Another team will be assessing the western side of the storm area, when re-entry is allowed.
+ The Texas State Animal Resource Team (TXSART), supported by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, is working in the area with credentialed animal care groups. 
A TXSART hotline for Orange and Jefferson County has been set up at:  409-980-7280 and 409-838-2510.
+ In several storm-ravaged counties, large numbers of cattle and horses caught in the storm surge either died or fences are down, and animals are loose or stranded.  The TAHC is coordinating carcass disposal with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Reports of dead livestock should be made to the TAHC’s Area Command Center  at 800-550-8242, ext 296. Callers will be asked to provide the location, species of animal, approximate number, and if, possible, the GPS coordinates of the site.
+ The Texas Agrilife Extension, Texas Department of Agriculture and livestock industry groups which have established “Operation No Fences: Hurricane Ike Horse and Cattle Relief” to collect feed,  hay and water troughs to provide the livestock with safe feed and water. 
For more information or to make a donation, call the Texas 4H Foundation at 979-845-1213.
+ Producers who wish to donate hay or are in need of hay are encouraged to call the
Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline at 1-877-429-1998.
Visit for more information.
+ Many of the emergency animal shelters for large and small animals remain operational, and livestock producers continue to generously volunteer their pastures and barns for evacuees. 
Evacuees who need to locate sheltering space should call 2-1-1.

Early information from shelters providing reports indicate that more 550 livestock and about 1,200 small animals were provided refuge.  This does not include persons sheltering their pets in their temporary housing, or individuals providing sheltering space.  The TAHC has sourced pet cages from Louisiana to augment the local sheltering capacity.