SWCD is a great resource for house hunters

SWCD is a great resource for house hunters

It’s tough to travel anywhere in the county these days without encountering a series of signs announcing a land auction. For some sellers it’s the capstone to a successful career. They’ve worked hard all their lives, invested years of sweat equity in their land and now is the time to redeem their investment and retire to a much less laborious lifestyle.

For others it’s the middle of the road. Tough times on the farm demand tough choices, and splitting off a couple of lots can mean the difference between making it through and losing it all. For some that ship has already sailed. It’s tough to know the situation from the outside looking in, but you can bet the decision to sell has never come easily.

On the other side of the equation are the folks who are about to begin the dream. By all accounts the land market is hot right now, and it’s not unusual to see country parcels going for premium prices. That’s great for the seller and, presumably, great for the buyer — if they fully understand what they’re buying.

One thing is certain, whether we’re talking vacuum cleaners, pick-up trucks or quarter-million-dollar properties: The more research a buyer can do ahead of time, the more likely he or she is to be satisfied after the sale.

Here at Holmes Soil and Water we can help you answer some of the most fundamental questions about that piece of land you’re eyeing, and it all begins with the soil. Using a number of tools here at the office (that also are available directly to you with a good internet connection), we can let you know what to expect from that piece of land in terms of its suitability for your intended use.

Our first go-to resource is Holmes County’s widely admired GIS website. Holmes is fortunate to host one of the most robust and up-to-date Geographic Information Systems in the state. (Kudos to director Erik Parker!)

With a simple search you can dial right in on the property you’re considering and gain tons of information on things like topography, soil type, historical changes in the landscape, and land uses in the immediate and general vicinity.

You also can, through a link to the Holmes County Auditor’s records, get information on previous sales and appraised values. You can dial up floodplain mapping to make sure you’ve got room on that parcel to stay high and dry. To check out the website on your own, go to gis.co.holmes.oh.us/holmesjs or Google “Holmes County Ohio GIS.”

Another asset that’s readily available to you is the Web Soil Survey. A product of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, Web Soil Survey is a truly astonishing collection of data that includes all of the information found in each volume of the printed Soil Survey guides for the entire United States.

In addition to the interactive map, the website also enables one to easily generate a report of soil types mapped for your parcel and their suitability for your intended use — from what sort of crops would do well to what type of foundation would be required for a building on the property. Find the site at websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov or Google “Web Soil Survey.”

While some folks will prefer to dig deep in their own, we always welcome questions here at Holmes Soil and Water, and we’ll be happy to guide you in your research. An educated bidder makes for a happy landowner. We’ll do whatever we can to help you become both.

Give us a call at 330-674-2811 or stop by our office at 62 W. Clinton St. in Millersburg.

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