Archive for the 'Country Property' Category

Rural Home Inspections

said on November 7th, 2011 filed under: Country Property, Localism, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts


Inspecting rural homes will  involve several system reports not usually required in urban or suburban sales.  In addition to the items discussed in our other articles about home inspections (wood destroying pest, whole house, heating and air, chimney, roof etc.) rural properties typically require corner or boundary marking, septic, well, and possibly others.

In our area of northern California, Placer and Nevada counties,these inspections are usually paid for by the seller.

On some sales, however, especially foreclosures and short sales, the lender or owner continue reading…

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The Costs of Home Inspections

said on November 3rd, 2011 filed under: Country Property, Localism, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Costs of home inspections will vary from one locale to another.   Below are typical costs incurred in Placer County and Nevada County, two counties in northern California characterized by small towns and farms.  These are the physical inspections of the property.   Other investigations may involve locating documents such as permits, examining title reports, and so on, and there may also be costs associated with those investigations, but the costs are not the subject of this article.

Whole House Inspection

  • This cost varies according to the size of the home, number of stories, and whether there are crawls (attic and below the house)
  • $350-500

Wood Destroying Pest Inspection

  • $125-200

Heating and Air Inspection

  • $75-100

Chimney Sweep and Inspection

  • $100-200

Roof Inspection

  • $75-100

Corner Marking

  • $200-400

Septic Pump and Inspection

  • $600-800

Well Test

  • Gallons per minute (GPM)
  • Total coliform bacteria
  • E. Coli contamination
  • $400-500

Mineral Tests for Well Water

  • The laboratory has a menu of tests that can be ordered in addition to the yield and potability studies that come with the basic well test
  • Iron, sodium, magnesium, mercury, arsenic, etc
  • $50-250

Electrical, Plumbing and other specialized inspections

  • Typically these inspections incur hourly costs as customary for the area.
  • $60-80 per hour


Not all inspections will be appropriate for all properties.  In an extreme case involving a large two-story farm house on rural property with a suspicious well, ambiguous  property boundaries, and a whole house inspection that called out for additional specialized inspections,  the total price tag for all inspections could run as high as:




For a newer, single story home on a quarter acre subdivision lot, with piped water and a sewer system, the minimum inspection costs could run as low as:




Can inspections, any and all, be waived by the buyer?  Yes.  Yes, but . . . the seller and both agents become exposed to great risks for non-disclosure and abrogation of fiduciary duty.  Even if the buyer signs waivers filled with dire warnings, even if the buyer assures the agents that she knows what he’s doing and accepts the property “as is,” . . . when a serious problem arises, “His Honor” is going to side with the poor, inexperienced buyer, and he’s going to lower the boom on the seller and the agents who should have known better than to let the buyer sign such waivers and stumble into a detrimental transaction.

There’s an old real estate saying I like to put on the bottom of my correspondence:

“What’s good for the buyer is good for the seller.  What’s good for the seller is good for the buyer.” 

What’s good for the buyer and seller is also good for the real estate agents.

Appropriate inspections are good for everybody.



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The Perfect Farm

said on October 12th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Localism

CSA path

Perhaps you have the dream of buying a parcel and starting a farm.  Perhaps you plan to start with a garden (wise idea) and then “grow” into a farm large enough to sustain yourself and others.  What should you look for in choosing your land?

In an earlier article about the extra “values” of rural property, I touched on the obvious requirements.  You might want to look continue reading…

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How to Make Millions from a Secret Creek

said on September 19th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Water Wells, Septic Systems, Sewers, Electric Power, Whimsy

There is a nondescript little creek that meanders along the perimeter of Sierra College in Placer County, California.  How much water flows throught that creek?  How much money is that water worth?

About ten years ago I was a member of a team that measured “Secret Creek” to answer those questions.  Using a graphing technique we constructed a cross section drawing of the creek.  The cross section we chose as representative of the creek was about 12 feet wide and no more than 1.71 feet deep.  The creek averaged about a foot and a half deep.  You can wade across it without getting your knees wet.  Like I said, nondescript.  It just burbled along, minding its own business, not raging rapids, just sort of . . . well . . . creek-like.

Measuring Secret Creek

Using several analytic steps I’m not going to bore you with, we determined that the volume of the creek was about 25 cubic feet per second.

Prepare to be amazed!

volume of flow per hour in cubic feet = 90, 144 cubic feet

volume of flow per hour in gallons = 674,277 gallons

volume of flow per day in gallons = 16,182,648 gallons

volume of flow per year in gallons = 5,906,666,520 gallons (look at that number again) 

From that little pissant creek?  How much is it worth?

volume of flow per year in acre-feet = 18,142 acre-feet per year

value of 1 year flow ($200/acre-feet) = $3,628,400.

S0, friends, if you have a little creek on your property, you will be a millionaire 3 times over in just a year.

(Oh, I forgot to mention one thing.  You have to get that water to the buyer.)

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Ditch Water

said on July 27th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Water Wells, Septic Systems, Sewers, Electric Power

Nevada County Irrigation District Canal

Nevada County Irrigation District Canal

Irrigation water in the Sierra Foothills is not immune to the politics of  California Water Wars.  Water is a precious commodity and transporting water is expensive, especially to the thirsty throats of the southern California cities and central valley agribusiness.

Up here in the Sierra Foothills, water appears plentiful and ubiquitous.  It seems like there are NID (Nevada Irrigation District) canals everywhere.  But looks are deceiving.  continue reading…

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Riverhill Farm in Bloom

said on July 27th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Localism, Whimsy

Riverhill Zinnias

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Riverhill Farm, a few miles north of Nevada City, CA is my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  It’s a farm where I buy an annual share in the harvest.  I pick up my box of fresh, organic goodies every Monday.  Yesterday I noticed all the flowers in bloom at the farm and couldn’t resist taking a few photos

Riverhill Lavender


Riverhill Roses


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10 Added Values for Rural Property in Nevada County, CA

said on June 15th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Water Wells, Septic Systems, Sewers, Electric Power

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.

Monteclaire back yard 


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? continue reading…

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7 Reasons to Live in South County

said on June 10th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Neighborhood Profiles

The area we call South County is north of Auburn, CA just across the Bear River in Nevada County and just below Alta Sierra.

1.  The location is superb.  South County is near the mountains, canyons, rivers, and trails and it is also near continue reading…

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