If you are looking to buy a home on the Russian River that has privacy and River charm there are many different issues that you need to take into consideration. Homes were originally built along the Russian River at the turn of the century as housing for loggers who where harvesting the old growth lumber that made the Russian River Valley famous. Some of these homes still exist and have been modified over the years from single wall cabins into full time residences. Important issues to research before purchasing rural real estate in the Russian River area include; un-permitted work, new California septic laws and flooding.
The first thing to do when you are buying a home on the Russian River is to find the home that meets your needs. Real estate is very unique in the Russian River valley so it is very important to choose a real estate agent that lives and works in the greater Guerneville, Forestville and Monte Rio area. Are you looking for a home on the river? Maybe you would like a secluded home with views or maybe a river front home. Once you find the home for sale that you want to buy have your real estate professional write an offer. Always have your real estate agent write an inspection contingency clause into your contract. If the offer you wrote gets accepted then the real work starts with inspections and disclosures.
First you will want to check the County Permit records at Sonoma County this is where the County of Sonoma keeps all of the digital files of the properties permit history. This report will tell you if the home you are buying has any permits that have been finaled, expired or open. If you are buying a home in the Russian River area it should have no open or expired permits. If the property does still have open issues with PRMD get the seller to have those issues taken care of before closing on your new house. The most important item you are looking for in the permit report are VIOLATIONS! When you buy a home in Sonoma County you inherit all building vioaltions on the property, and fines. Do not close a deal with an open vioaltions make sure your real estate agent makes clearing of building violations a contingency of sale.
If the West Sonoma County home for sale that you are looking at is on a septic system there are new regulations that are being put into place and that need to be considered. The new septic laws are state wide and will effect all septic sytems, more information is available here at the WTS website. When looking for a home for sale some of the questions you need to ask are the following; Is my home on a cesspool? What class is my septic system? Class one two or three? and how will this affect my ability to make repairs or expand my new home. More information regarding septic systems in Sonoma county can be found here.
The Russian River watershed has seen its fair share of flooding over the years. The worst flood in recent times was the 1986 flood. For more information regarding flooding the Sonoma County Water agency has a helpful website here. Your local real estate agent can give you guidence regarding what areas along the Russian River have flooded in the past. One helpful hint is to take a look at the houses around the home you are interested in. Are they raised up? If they are you are most likely in a flood area. Not all home in flood areas have been raised though. It is important to have your real estate agent get a Natural Hazard Report when you are in escrow and that will tell you if you are in a flood area.
There are many issues that you need to take into consideration when buying a home in the Russian River Valley that you wont find if you are looking at a home in a traditional suburban track neighborhood. That is why it is so vitally important that you take your time and find a real estate agent that understands the inticacies of the Russian River valley. Take your time, ask specific questions regarding flooding, septic and permit issues. If you get specific answers you are probably working with a real estate agent that has knowledge in the area.