With my compliments, a simple property pre-purchase checklist to assist in land evaluation for most any purpose follows.
ZONING Are there Municipal or County Government rules or zoning ordinances which align with your ultimate purpose?
DEED RESTRICTIONS Are there restrictive covenants in the deed for your proposed property that preclude or inhibit your planned activities?
QUALITY OF THE DEED Will you receive a General Warranty Deed free of all historic encumbrances for the property you purchase?
WILL YOU OVERPAY? Are you being asked to pay more for your property than for a "comparable sale " in the same general area?
WATER Don't let your enthusiasm for a "dream" property obscure your ability to reason. Your potential purchase will not work without adequate water resources.
RAINFALL If the property being evaluated is not located in an area having moderate annual rainfall, the "WATER" issue noted above rises in importance.
ELECTRICAL ENERGY If utility company electrical energy is readily available, it is possibly the most economical bulk energy available, especially with prudent utilization on your part. Yes indeed, a public utility might be cheaper than solar and will very likely be cheaper than trying to generate electricity with stored fuels. Photovoltaic solar energy is a very natural resource for indoor lighting and low power requirement devices. Heating systems for water and air require significant installed capacity. The initial expense for a large capacity whole house PV solar energy system makes any sort of meaningful payback period difficult to attain. Here is the takeaway..... Electrical energy from solar panels is very inexpensive when the sun is shining and can be very, very expensive at night.
I built a solar clothes dryer for the dear wife and I'm sure she is delighted with each use. I even bought her an extra package of clothespins should a few fall off the line into the tall grass.
SOLAR ORIENTATION The sun is your friend, on many very basic levels. To realize an efficient payback period for a right sized PV solar energy system, be prepared to utilize or store all the available solar energy you collect. As an example of a daily goal, once batteries are fully charged divert solar energy to preheating water, run ventilation fans or run a small air conditioner in the summer if you are so inclined.
Set a minimum for site selection... perhaps full direct overhead sun for 5 or 6 hours per day. An orchard or vegetable garden will need full sun as well.
RURAL SANITATION An unpermitted septic system is likely to have been installed in a substandard manner. If buying property with an existing septic installation, check for a valid permit which will likely map the location of tank and drain lines.
CONNECTIVITY Broadband internet, from all outward appearances, has become as essential as daily (gluten free) bread. Educational resources for young and old alike are in fact important elements for most folks and have earned a place on this checklist.
TILLABLE ACREAGE At least some of your land should be level enough, have sufficient topsoil thickness and free of large rock to allow tillage.
(Let's not utilize the soil directly above the septic system leach lines as our garden spot or orchard.)
SUITABLE SLOPES Sloped rocky ground can be utilized for orchard and pasture, some slope is required to maintain proper drainage to avoid wet soil conditions. Gently sloped productive ground makes for a good place to grow crops.
ROADS Without a serviceable all weather road to your property, any investment in improvements may never return the amount invested.
EXTERNAL INFLUENCES These are issues often beyond your control. Good neighbors or bad? Unsightly accumulation of junk or debris on adjacent property may hurt your ability to finance and invest wisely in your property.
RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES Define this for your family. A large nearby lake or stream with fishing, canoeing and swimming qualifies nicely.
SCHOOL & TOWN PROXIMITY If you live 40 miles from the school sports field or gymnasium, you are more likely to miss some of the kid's games. The day to day costs for a "trip to town" to obtain needed supplies can add up quickly.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES It takes a steady stream of revenue to support any and all homestead lifestyles . If you are fortunate enough to be independently wealthy, rate this item accordingly. Otherwise, if you plan to utilize your marketable skills with employment, try to make it local. See "connectivity" above as broadband may be required to support a revenue stream.
LOW PROPERTY TAXES Strangely enough, an area with a high property tax rate will also very likely be an area having high appraised property values. Apply a hefty tax rate to a high property valuation and the probability of a homestead being profitable is quickly reduced.
BONUS ITEMS A nice drilled water well is always a plus, even if it is an old well that you must place back into service. a southern orientation of the homestead allows solar energy pumping options to become economically feasible. A running stream, even if flow is often low, can be valuable over time. A fishing pond arranged to also source water for livestock is extremely valuable if in fact there is sufficient land to support livestock. A woodlot provides independence for home heating and perhaps inexpensive structural framing or a source of income. Home heating with wood is often practical without owning a woodlot if your area has a robust timber and logging industry.
ABSOLUTE MUSTS A low crime area should be an absolute requirement. I assure you, if you move to a high crime area, your family's quality of life will suffer.
If any of the items in the simple outline above requires expansion or clarification, comments and questions are invited. Variables are many and geographical location will support more items being added to the checklist. Prioritize the issues in a manner that suits your specific needs.
Collection of 14 Permaculture/Homesteading Cheat-Sheets, Worksheets, and Guides