You want to move to the  country…. you were raised in a rural location,….or you’ve never had the opportunity and now you can make that choice

Whatever the reason for wanting to reach out past city limits for your new home, make sure that you do your homework. You can start with the following list:

PUBLIC WATER DISTRICTS – FIRE DEPARTMENTS – PUBLIC SEWERS

  1. Does a public water district serve the area?  AND is there a water line attached to your property. Just because an Oklahoma Rural Water District serves the area, that’s no guarantee that it can serve you… if a water line is not already attached to the property, how far away is it and how will it get to you? Will you have to have an easement across someone else’s property to get to you? The neighbors may not be willing to have your water line come across their land so check it out. If a water line can serve your land, what are the installation and monthly fees? If not, are good water wells serving the neighbors?  What is the cost of drilling, how deep are the wells in the area and what assurance if any do you have that you will end up with plenty of good water? What permits are required and what fees?  Are there fire district fees associated with the public water district fees? 
  2. Where is the nearest fire department?  Are they a volunteer department or staffed? Where is the nearest fire hydrant? How does the fire department location and type affect your home owners insurance? The State of Oklahoma has an online directory of fire departments and you can search by county. To see where fire departments are located in McCurtain County, click here.
  3. Is there a public sewer service available to the property? If not, what are your options?  Depending upon the soil profile, waste treatment could get expensive and could be a “high maintenance” system.  Ask questions about installation costs, maintenance costs, hassle, etc. In Oklahoma, contact The Department of Environmental Quality for answers.

ELECTRIC SERVICE – SURVEYS – EASEMENTS – MINERAL RIGHTS – SOIL TYPES

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  1. What about electrical service? In our rural areas, power probably comes via overhead lines. Is this a co-op that serves your area?  If so, find out who your representative is on the board, when they have their board meetings and when do they have their annual meeting? You may not ever need this information but when and if you do have a problem, you want this information already filed away somewhere.  Ask the neighbors if service is disrupted very often.  If so, or if this is an area that has been plagued by snow storms or other types of storms that have knocked out power in the past, you may want to invest in a practical size generator just for insurance, which means keeping some fuel on hand for the generator.  If it’s a gasoline generator, gasoline is not always easily siphoned out of your automobile to put in the generator.  Find out what the utility charges for installation.  This may make a difference in whether they run the electricity near your house or at the property line and you have an electrician do the job of getting the line closer to your new home, possibly getting it underground even if the utility company only runs overhead The two electric companies doing business in McCurtain County Oklahoma are AEP-PSO and Choctaw Electric Co-op
  2. Surveys:  Get one.  Period.  Whether the seller furnishes it, you have to do it, or you split the cost…get one.  If the seller has one that they can pass on to you, good. It needs to have sketches of structures, fences, and other improvements.  There needs to be stakes in the ground so that you can easily find the corners and easements on the property.  Pollard Surveying in the Pollard Community does most of the surveys in our coounty. Which brings me to the next one:
  3. Easements.Check to see if the property has any, what types they are and what the consequences of them are and could be in the future.  It never hurts to be aware and it might make a difference in your decision. 
  4. Mineral Rights.Are there any with the surface rights that you are thinking of purchasing?
  5. Soil Type of the property that you are thinking of buying. NRCS has online soil maps. If you do not have access to the Internet OR have difficulty with their website, call your local conservation district and ask.  If soil maps are available, get one.  Talk to them also about the location and ask for advice, especially if you are thinking of installing a pond on the property.  They can give advice about soil erosion, suitability of the soil to different improvements and plants. They will help you with conservation planning. 

ABSTRACTS – FLOOD PLAIN- SCHOOLS- PROPERTY TAXES – ZONING ORDINANCES – BUILDING PERMITS

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  1. In Oklahoma, ask about the abstract. Oklahoma and Iowa are abstracting states. An abstract is compilation of the documents that have been filed at the court house on your legal description. Are you getting a complete abstract or is it a supplemental.  This can be a negotiating point on the price of the property. If you are only getting a supplemental, who owns the base.  You might save yourself some money also if you know the last time that it was looked at by an attorney, or if it has title insurance on the property.  If there has been an attorney’s opinion, sometimes going back to the same attorney will allow you to get the opinion extended to cover the additional documents that have been added to the abstract since the last opinion.  Oklahoma abstracting companies are governed by the Oklahoma Abstractors Board. The Board’s website has the law and rules online that are used to regulate abstracting companies along with each company’s fee chart. You can search by county.
  2. Is there a live creek on the property and if so, where is the flood zone?  There are flood maps available on the FEMA site.
  3.  If you have children, what school district is the property in…is the property served by the school bus route? Oklahoma is an open transfer state which means your children do not have to attend the district they are in but there may be only one district serving your address with a bus route. Home Schooling is also legal in Oklahoma as of the date this post is being written. Information about homeschooling your children can be found on the Oklahoma Education Website. There are numerous free online schools also for your children to be schooling from home.
  4. Find out how property taxes are calculated and how property is assessed.  It will probably change when you purchase and especially when you build on it, so don’t count on it staying the same as the previous owners.  Oklahoma has an 11% evaluation rate for ad-valorem taxes and 13.5% personal tax rate as of today’s date. You will need to know the millage for the location of your property. Millage is the rate of tax per $1,000 of assessed value minus any exemptions that you might be eligible for. The steps are explained well on the Oklahoma County assessor’s page.
  5. Are there any zoning ordinances that cover the location
  6. and are building permits required?  If the property is not covered by protective covenants, you still will want to know if there are any deed restrictions
  7. If the road to the property is not paved…ask about maintenance on the road and what it’s like after a rain.  

There may be other issues and concerns so ask your lender if there is anything else that you should be concerned about.

Then after you’re satisfied that all is right, enjoy knowing that you did your homework.

Call me, Judi Barrett, about property for sale in our corner of the world.. About “going rural” in McCurtain County!