7 Critical Aspects of Buying Farm Property in Southern Maryland

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on April 4, 2018

If your dream Southern Maryland home is merely a shelter to retreat to after a day spent ranching or farming the land surrounding it, you’ll find that the process is more involved than buying at tract home.

We don’t have the space here to get into the fine details of this type of real estate purchase (call me if you’d like more information!), we can take a look at a few basic steps you should take when buying farm or ranch property in Southern Maryland.

Where will you get the money?

Not every lender deals with farm or ranch property, so you’ll have to find one who does. If you need help coming up with the money to buy a farm, you can contact Maryland’s Department of Agriculture about the Beginning Farm & Ranch Loan Program. This program offers beginning farmers and ranchers a reduced interest rate and a reasonable down payment. You can find the eligibility requirements here.

The USDA offers farm loan programs (including a special program for women and minority borrowers) and some conventional lenders, such as Janus Ag Finance (an outlet for Farmer Mac) and Compeer Financial, have programs for potential ranch and farm owners. (We do not endorse these lenders; the mention is for informational purposes only).

How much land and how many animals?

When you find a Southern Maryland farm or ranch property you’re interested in, one of the first things you need to do is figure out whether it is the right size for the number of animals you hope to keep. The easiest way to do this is to contact the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

Zoning considerations

Next, make sure that the property is located in an agricultural zoning district and that it’s also zoned for the livestock you intend to keep there. You’ll find zoning information on the websites of the Southern Maryland counties.

If you go there in person, ask for a parcel map so you can look for easements. This is especially important if the property you’re buying has never held a structure before. It’s not uncommon for vacant Southern Maryland land to be landlocked, and if there is no existing easement to allow for ingress and egress, you’ll have to go about getting one, which is not an easy project.

Water rights

Does the property have water running on or through it? Your next stop is at the state engineer’s office. You’ll need to find out how they determine water rights (also known as “riparian rights”). This is important if you plan on pumping water to store or use for livestock.

Drinking water and waste management

When you buy a farm or ranch, you’ll typically have the expense of having the well and septic system inspected. Despite the cost, it’s important to have the septic system pumped out and thoroughly inspected.

Need to install a system? You’ll want to have the soil tested (called a “percolation” test) to determine whether the land will support the size system you have in mind.

Lenders will often require water quality tests for farm and ranch purchases. Even if your lender doesn’t, consider hiring a professional to make sure the well’s mechanics work well and that the water is safe to drink.

Are crops or grazing areas planned?

A soil test will be a must for anyone planning to grow crops or provide a pasture for grazing. You’ll find invaluable information online with the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Web Soil Survey.

Soil testing results are especially useful if you’re interested in organic farming. Cooperative Extension Services across the country often offer soil testing. Consult the list at gardenologist.org to find the one closest to the Southern Maryland property you’re interested in.

Infrastructure considerations

You should have barns and other outbuildings on the property professionally inspected. If the property doesn’t have the buildings you need, factor the cost of building them into your offer. Do the same with fences and irrigation that need to be installed.

Mechanicsville MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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