The beauty of the Denver Metro Area is that we are surrounded by stunning areas perfect for seeking your escape from the urban chaos. All Denverites are used to going to the high country for recreation or R & R, but enjoying your own slice of Colorado does not have to be as far as Grand or Summit County. A quick drive in any direction from downtown will get you to more rural communities perfect for a slower pace, recreation opportunities or to live the dream of being a land owner.
I help families each year find their perfect home on an acreage property or land to build on. The communities that I serve are sometimes closer than we all think. Some are as close as 30 minutes from Denver on up to an hour away. I am finding more homeowners seeking smaller towns, space, privacy, and the dream of land ownership. Some of these communities include Larkspur, Sedalia, Elizabeth, Franktown, Conifer, Morrison, Evergreen, Golden, Castle Rock, Parker, Bennett, Brighton, etc.
Buying land or homes on acreage is very different from purchasing a single-family home in a subdivision. There are several aspects to the purchase to consider:
Location: Making sure you have a reasonable commute time is still applicable with acreage properties unless it is a secondary home. Understanding the weather and road conditions in your area is important. Will you be responsible for plowing your access road or is it provided? What type of views or features on the land are you seeking? If there is water is it seasonal or year round? How much sunlight will you have? If you are seeking an area to farm how is the soil or planting area? If you are in the mountains or foothills how is your wildfire interface? Is your space defensible and is your forest in good condition? Are there water rights or records for the use of damming a stream? If you are looking to build on the land determining if there is a good buildable site is important.
Use of Property (Zoning): Understanding what your goal is for the use of the land is important. Believe it or not, many rural communities and subdivisions still have covenants. They sometimes have restrictions on what type of livestock they allow or how many animals are allowed. The county zoning designation is very important as well. Some properties are zoned agricultural and some are not. Many areas have wildlife conservation easements that only allow you to build on certain areas or a small percentage of your land. Most counties require if you have an agricultural zoning that you graze livestock on it for a portion of the year to get the tax benefits of it being an agricultural zoning. It is vital to make sure your goal for the use of the land aligns with the properties or lots you are interested in.
Structures (Residential and Outbuildings): Unlike residential homes in the city the goal is to find a suitable home with the land features you desire and the outbuildings you want. In some cases if you are not planning on housing more vehicles or livestock, finding a property without too many outbuildings may be what a buyer needs so they are not overpaying for outbuildings they do not need. Outbuildings can range from small sheds or barns to impressive indoor riding arenas, large two-story barns, and paddocks. Outbuildings rarely receive the full value of their installation upon the sale of the home but can add value!
Fencing: Fencing can be a large expenditure on acreage properties. Understanding your lot lines may be essential. Obtaining a pin survey may be necessary if you were not provided one. If you have neighbors with livestock it is your responsibility to “fence” them out. Colorado is an Open Range state. According to the Bureau of Land Management, “Livestock operators face no criminal penalties when their livestock wander onto unfenced private property.” Usually, landowners and neighbors work together to find solutions.
Fees and Utilities: If you are buying land with a home or improvements on it you will want to fully understand the cost of development. There are many fees to consider prior to improving land including well installation and permits and septic system installation and permits. When evaluating an existing well we are concerned about whether it is operational and does it allows for domestic and livestock use or just household. There are several good tests that I assist my clients with obtaining prior to their purchase. Some acreage properties in subdivisions have natural gas installed on the property but many require propane. Depending upon how remote you are, cell service and wireless internet options may be sparse but there are solutions most of the time!
My job is to assist my clients with navigating this challenging but fun process and I love helping my clients find their slice of heaven! Let me know if you are considering exploring land ownership!