Finding Your Needle in a Haystack: Farmland for Sale in NC
Looking for your dream farmland in North Carolina when you’re still considered just a visitor to our state can seem like the proverbial task of “looking for a needle in a haystack,” even for native, seasoned real estate brokers. Searching for just the right size farmland, whether you want to be an absentee owner of a piece of paradise or you want to start homesteading yourself, can be tough if you’re trying to go it alone. Here are some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned in presenting properties for folks just like yourself looking for farmland here in the Tarheel State.
- Communicate clearly to your agent the purpose behind the purchase. Be honest with them to ensure they understand your intent and your limits. If you’re buying farmland with the intent to develop and flip it, tell your agent up front. Want horses? Probably looking for more open fields already cleared from some other owner’s timber operations. This makes their research for your dream farmland a little more focused, so it will be much more successful for you.
- Tune in to your ZIP code. Pinpoint the center of your search and draw as big a circle as you find comfortable driving from this spot. Your “center of the universe” may be a bit different from what your agent’s assigned MLS area is, so be very clear with them about your location requirements.
- Select acreage brackets. No one wants to waste time with properties too big or too small. We have all seen how to maximize space on a quarter acre back yard, but if you’re looking at starting your own nursery, you will need much more space than that. Decide how big you want to go, or at least how big your budget will allow you to go. At the same time, decide if you really need that large acreage. Mowing grass may be your Zen, but for most it’s just another chore. What about your health? Understand that the adage “go big or go home” does not necessarily apply to your dream farmland.
- Decide on features that add or take away value. Water access, fencing, stands of timber, open fields, working agricultural land rental, even hills or knobs versus valleys and lowlands can be pluses or minuses depending on your perspective. Do you really want four creeks separating your open fields and complicating the plowing and sowing operations? Sure another farmland owner may have enjoyed four-board creosote fencing, but are you calculating what it costs to maintain that? Or is there already a fence at all? Knowing your decisions regarding these features ahead of time will help you weigh your options objectively when multiple opportunities – all with different “land personalities” – inevitably arise.
- Organize your paperwork ahead of time. If you are seeking a loan, go ahead and get that pre-qualification letter. Some agents require you to have this up front before even showing you properties. If you are selling a property to get the money to invest in this one, disclose and discuss the differential. Many people moving to North Carolina are doing so simply because their dollars stretch farther here, so capital gains may be a concern – and you may be buying two properties, or more than your dream acreage, just to correctly 1031 exchange. Research zoning and land use regulations in your area. North Carolina maintains extensive online resources to help you navigate the rules outlined for usage, and each county also maintains regulation data online. Has the farm you’re buying been in continuous agricultural use for 100 years or more, as is the case for more than 1,600 farms across North Carolina? Make sure the NC Agriculture Century Farms database is updated once you purchase.
All these points can help point you toward making the best possible decision about ag land or farmland for your goals. Contact Legacy Farms and Ranches of NC today at 919-749-3177 to speak with our brokers Gardner Reynolds or Frank Gombatz and get started finding your needle in the haystack.