8 Things to Consider When Buying Mountain Property

Thomas T.R. Hoffman Real Estate Leave a Comment

You’ve decided you want to buy a mountain property to get away from it all! Here are eight things to consider as you start your search for that perfect property.

  1. Private Roads. Many properties around Western NC are built on privately maintained roads. That means that the residents of that area are responsible for maintaining the roads themselves. Some areas have road maintenance agreements and do very well collecting funds and maintaining roads, others don’t do as well. Some areas don’t have any road maintenance agreements at all and it’s up to the residents to come to an agreement on maintaining the roads. In those cases, it is often hard to get an agreement. If you are going to finance your home with a mortgage, most lenders want to know that there is a formal, operational road maintenance agreement in place before they lend. As you are looking for your perfect house, ask your Realtor® whether the houses you are viewing are on public or private roads, what the road maintenance agreement looks like and how much they collect per resident, per year.
  2. The Challenges of Homes with Awesome Views. Clients often claim that they want to live at the top of the mountain to have awesome views. When I hear that, I have to ask why they are buying the house? It’s true that there are great views and solitude at the top of the mountain but top of the mountain living comes with some challenges. Chief among them is year-round access to the house. Snow and ice accumulate at higher elevations.  Consider what side of the mountain the property is on and how much sun the roads will get in the winter. Is there anyone to clear the roads? How steep are the roads and the driveway?
  3. Soil Stability. The Appalachian Mountains are 480 Million years old (plus or minus a few years). At one time, they were as tall as the Rocky Mountains. Over those years, water and gravity have conspired to break the mountains down to what they are now. That erosion process, while slow, is still happening today. Consider soil stability in the area where you want to buy or build in. Human activity and water erosion can affect the soil stability and sometimes, gravity sometimes gets a vote. Roads, driveways, and homes can be damaged or destroyed. Check out this link to Appalachian Landslide Consultants, PLLC Landslide maps of Western NC.
  4. Parking. I have seen many beautiful 4-5 bedroom homes that horrible driveways and minimal parking available. Think about what your parking requirements may be before you start looking for that perfect house. How many cars will you need space for? Do you plan to entertain? If so, where will guests park? Can you turn around in the driveway or do you need to back out? Make sure you look at the parking situation as much as you do the house.
  5. Shared Wells. Shared wells are not uncommon in the mountain region. Wells are expensive to drill and the higher up the mountain you go, the further down a well driller may have to drill to get a good well. If your dream home has a shared well, don’t be scared off, but do ask some questions; Is the shared well agreement recorded at the courthouse? Is there a fee associated with the shared well? What is the agreement for well maintenance? How strong is the water pressure? Can you fix the pipes or well head if it is on someone else’s property? How many homes are on the shared well?
  6. Shared Septic Systems. While less frequent than share wells, shared septic systems exist in our area. What kind of septic system is it? Whose land will the shared septic be located and do you have a right to fix the system if it is on someone else’s property? How will costs be shared? These are all good questions to ask.
  7. Septic Permits vs Bedrooms. Often times, terrain and lot size will limit the space available for a septic system. According to NC law, a house can have no more bedrooms than the septic system is rated for. That means that a house that appears to have three bedrooms, but only has a two bedroom septic, can only be sold as a two bedroom house with a “bonus” room. While you are looking for homes, ask your Realtor® to check the septic permit and make sure it makes sense. In some cases, the septic permit may not be able to be found. In those cases it is buyer beware.
  8. Internet/cable. Because of the rugged terrain and the lower populations, the infrastructure can be very limited in our beautiful area. There are many locations around western NC where your Internet and television options can be very limited and your cell coverage can be spotty, at best. Consider your need for these services, what options are available for those service and their costs before making your decision on where to buy.

As you can see, there is much more to picking a mountain home than just picking a home you love. While this list is not all inclusive, it is a great list to start with as you start your mountain home shopping adventure with. If you are looking for a knowledgeable agent to help you in the process, please give us at the WNC Real Estate Store. We specialize in mountain homes! 828-944-0664.

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Thomas T.R. Hoffman

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