Conventional home evaluations for the rural areas between Auburn, CA and Grass Valley, CA will yield that most-important statistic–price per square foot. This datum will be the foundation for the price estimated by appraisers. But, in our rural areas where properties vary enormously in acreage and other critical elements, we must also consider extra values that can add to–or subtract from–the mostly likely sales price.
10 ADDED VALUES FOR RURAL PROPERTY
1. Location–How far is the property from things the owners like to do, or need to do? How far from the convenient freeway entrance, Big Box shopping, medical facilities, cultural and entertainment venues, the nearest carton of milk?
2. Neighborhood–Do the other nearby homes enhance, support, or detract from the value? Do you have to drive by the trailer with the rusting Oldsmobile on concrete blocks in the front yard?
3. Views–What do you see from the porch, the kitchen window, the master bedroom window? Long range and panoramic views can add many thousands of dollars to the value.
4. Usability–“There is no such thing as land–only usable land.” What can the owners actually do on the property? Is is suitable for agriculture, pastures, vineyards, orchards? Knowledgeable buyers will want to examine the pasturage. Horse pastures and cattle pastures are different. How has the land been tended over the years? Is the soil depleted? Is there a woodlot? What is the ground cover? Clover and sweet grass or star thistle and poison oak? How much rock will have to be moved or lived with. Do local building codes allow the buyers to build a second legal dwelling on the property?
5. Strong Well–What is the gallons-per-minute yield of the well? How deep is it? How reliable? What is the condition of the well? What is the quality of the water? How hard and mineralized is the water? Is there a holding tank for reserves?
6. Irrigation Allocation–Does an irrigation allocation run appurtenant to the property? If not, can the owners secure an allocation? The irrigation allocation will be critical to determining possible uses. You can not manintain an agricultural operation from a low- yield well.
7. Standard Septic System–What kind of septic system will the land support? The difference between an inexpensive standard septic system and an expensive engineered system can be more than $50,000. Is the property large enough, and the soil suitable, to expand the existing septic system or add another septic system for a second dwelling.
8. Agricultural Assets–What are the existing outbuildings and other improvements? This is particularly important if the property is marketed as “horse property” or “vineyard” or “farm.” Stables, barns, tack rooms, equipment sheds, fencing, animal pens, chicken coops, storage and processing facilities all add value.
9. Water features–Does the land have a pond? Is the pond well-maintained? Does a creek run through or adjacent to the propery? Seasonal or year round creek? Water features are highly desirable and can add significant value.
10. The Lay of the Land–How is this property situated and configured? What is the sun-position? What is the topography? Is it on a north or south slope or a ridge or a valley? Is the existing home well-sited or is there a good site for building the new home. From whence come the prevailing winds? What is the altitude or elevation?
NOT AS IMPORTANT AS MOST PEOPLE THINK
Extra acreage–Typically, the larger the parcel, the lower the price per acre. The most expensive land is the piece the house actually sits on. Radiating outward, undeveloped land gets less and less valuable.
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