Have you been contemplating the idea of purchasing a chunk of mother earth and building your dream home? So, you think you might finally be ready to brave the unknown, face your fears and make the jump? Now may be the perfect time for your land purchase since the market is prime to take advantage of lower prices than we have seen for years. But since country life is significantly different from life in the city, here are some tips for your consideration before you take the plunge into land ownership. 1. Hire a professional Realtor who understands rural property. Ask for advice about the following items on this list. Don’t expect an experienced agent to jump and run to show you properties until you have done some homework. 2. Be aware of the costs involved in developing raw land well before you get started. Ask your Realtor to provide referrals for septic installers, well drillers, road builders etc. so that you can investigate the feasibility of the whole idea ahead of time. Can you afford to finish the project once you start if things should not go exactly as planned? Figure the cost of each improvement (well, septic etc) and double it! 3. Talk to a trustworthy lender who can offer a construction loan or all-in-one loan. Do you have deep enough pockets? Is your credit worthy of such a risky project? The lender might reject a borrower who is not solid gold since such projects historically have a high rate of failure. 4. Ask your Realtor to send you property listings for your review that fit an exact criteria including price point, so that you can get a feel for the market pricing. Calculating how much you can afford to spend on the land may be a real eye opener! You may soon realize that you will not be able to afford all of the must-have items on your previous wish list (ie. stream or creek, paved road frontage, 40 acres vs 10 acres) Don’t waste any time looking until you have done the previous items on this list! 5. Talk to a reputable contractor who can advise you on the approximate costs to build your dream home. This shopping process often results in a trimming of amenities and a sacrifice of the quality of finish when the dreamer realizes how his/her wants will translate into dollars paid for such opulence. 6. There is a myriad of details to learn about before you purchase raw land (cost of improvements, regional availability of well water, property taxation, timber values, easements, covenants - title issues, micro-climate weather, surveys, zoning etc.). Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed by all of critical issues involved in this worthwhile process! Remember that most good real estate advisors would rather spend considerable time teaching you about the process before your butt hits the leather of their car seat. Don’t be fooled by the novice who might jump and run at your request, but who may not have the knowledge to get you started right.