Credit / Documents / Downpayment / Insurance / Lenders / Pre-Approvals / Purchase / Qualifying

How to finance a rural property

I once heard it’s a rural property if you can stand naked on your porch without the cops being called. If you are thinking of financing a rural property, the mortgage process varies slightly from that of purchasing a home in the city. While the income and credit guidelines are the same, the property requirements can be quite different. There are also additional document requirements and the lenders tend to be more selective on what and where they will finance when it comes to acreages in general. This week, I want to highlight the key differences.

Water Potability Test

If the water source is well water, a requirement for an acreage property is a satisfactory water potability test. If the property is on a municipal water system this test is not required. The test, which is done by the county or municipality will confirm the water is drinkable and doesn’t contain any harmful bacteria. If the water is discovered to have any issues, proper equipment to filter the water will have to be installed before the lender will advance the mortgage funds. Sometimes the lender may instead be agreeable to holdback a small portion of the total mortgage funds until confirmation has been received confirming the water is now satisfactory. Some lenders require the results of this test immediately before issuing an approval while others require it be provided to the lawyer’s office with the mortgage instructions, which would be close to the funding date. My suggestion is to get that test ordered sooner than later.

Lot Size

The size of the property is an important factor when sourcing a lender to provide mortgage financing for an acreage property. The reason is the majority of residential lenders will only recognize the home, garage, and up to 5 – 10 acres of land in the “lending” value. If the property is larger than that, the value of those additional acres may not be included in the mortgage loan-to-value calculation as well as any other outbuildings such as barns or shops.

Property Zoning

In addition to the property size, the lender will confirm the zoning type. For rural residential properties, the zoning may be agricultural or county residential. Large land parcels such as farms with livestock and hobby farms may be zoned as farmland or agricultural. The 1-3 acre parcels we are seeing located in subdivisions on the outskirts of the city limits are usually zoned country residential and country residential zoning is okay with the lenders. Most residential lenders are not too fond of agriculture or farmland zoned properties as they are not technically viewed as being residential properties, so your pool of lender options is a bit smaller than if you bought in a major city centre. The list of options gets even smaller if you plan on using income derived from the rural property to qualify for the mortgage.


The further away from a major city the property is, the harder it could be to find a lender. While there are still many options, they are more critical of the other property factors such as size of the parcel of land, zoning and condition. If the property is unique in any way, the lender may request a higher downpayment, or alternatively, require the mortgage to be insured with a premium cost to you.

Land Only

If you’re buying a parcel of raw land or an acreage that has a teardown property on it, the mortgage process will be quite different than if it is for an existing house sitting on a piece of land already. The lenders who will finance land only will require a minimum of 25% downpayment; depending on the location and type of property and will usually charge a higher rate than what you can get when financing both the home and the land it is sitting on.

Building on Raw Land

If you’re buying raw land with the intention of building a new home on it, you have a few more mortgage options than if you were holding onto the land only. There are a few ways to go about this with the first step being to buy the land and then contract a builder to construct the home. The other option is to buy the land and the new home through the builder on one contract, in which case you can usually get away with a minimum 5-10% downpayment depending on the builder’s requirements. When deciding which builder to work with do determine if they require a completion mortgage where total mortgage funds are required at completion of the build, or a draw mortgage with multiple mortgage advances required throughout the construction process. The mortgage financing for each of these types of funding can be quite different so do have a conversation with your mortgage professional to see which option will suit your finances best.


Don’t be surprised if an appraisal as one of the conditions of your mortgage approval. Your potential lender may require this document to confirm the water and sewer type, lot size, zoning and value of the property including 5 -10 acres if applicable, among other details that will affect their financing decision.


If your dream property is an acreage, you have mortgage options and it’s just a matter of finding the one that is going to work best for you. Obtain a mortgage pre-approval beforehand to minimize some of the stress at buying time. Be advised even if you are pre-approved, the acreage isn’t. It’s important to work with a mortgage professional experienced in acreage lending.


For all your mortgage needs, contact Jackie at 780.433.8412 or Stay in the loop by following on Twitter @mortgagegirlca.

3 thoughts on “How to finance a rural property

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