Buying rural land

Under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002, a real estate agent can handle a purchase or sale of rural properties up to 20 hectares in size. Any property over this size, must be handled by the licensed Stock and Station Agent.

Important issues to consider when buying rural land are:

  • The economic climate of the area. Is the land to be used for agriculture, commercial purposes or private use?
  • Check that the property has appropriate council approvals and council zoning for any external buildings, and any future development.
  • How close by are health and other services that you need?
  • What are the property taxes?
  • Does the contract include any licences such as water usage?
  • What about accessibility of service utilities such as power and telecommunication?
  • Check for floodplains, areas with access problems, water problems.
  • Particularly check for any easements or rights of way that may be through the property. Even though they may have not been used for some time, their use by others can affect your rights as well.
  • Check that effective controls are in place and work has been maintained to control noxious pests on the land, such as rabbits and noxious weeds. Eradicating these can be costly.

If looking for undeveloped land, check the following:

  • Water tables, depth, quality and reliability.
  • Proximity of utilities and costs to bring them to the land / property and for installation and maintenance.
  • Country road maintenance and accessibility in adverse climate conditions.

Clearing sales

When buying rural land or property, ensure you know exactly what is being sold with the property Many owners of rural land conduct a ‘clearing sale’ before selling.

While these auctions are commonly conducted by the agent selling the property, the conduct of clearing sales is not a standard activity of agents, and any funds paid to the agent in trust for the owner of the goods are not protected by the Property Services Compensation Fund. Many sales are conducted on a cash only basis.

Settlement

During the conveyancing process, any unpaid or outstanding expenses relating to the property, such as rates and utility fees, are identified. These amounts become part of the final figure. These are pro-rated so the vendor pays any amount owing for the period up until the date of settlement, and the purchaser pays any amount owing for the period after settlement.

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