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When a property is also a small business

By Matthew McCormack

Buying a rural property for some is about more than having a weekender or holiday home or even a rural retreat.

For some buying that rustic charmer or gorgeous homestead isn’t just about buying a house, it can also be about either acquiring or establishing a small business.

If you’re in the market for a rural home that could or already does come with a business attached to it, here are a few things you should consider first.

Lucas Bradley, Principal at Elders Real Estate Goolwa, says turning a rural property into a small business or maintaining an existing one on-site can, with a bit of planning, be a successful venture.

Great views

Having a great garden or stunning views that make the most of the surrounding scenery is really important. Whether the business is in accommodation, functions or even corporate events, customers and their guests appreciate a stunning rural setting.

“The number one attribute that people should look for is views. Some sort of view, whether that be coastal or across the Coorong and the lakes, rural but certainly water views are a big puller.  And obviously that country lifestyle and that country feel – so established gardens and that country rustic feel certainly appeals to a lot of people,” he says.

Is the accommodation up to scratch?

If the business involves accommodation, make sure the rooms and key features of the property are up to standard. It’s also important to remember that visitors want rustic charm and features not found in every house.

“It’s got to be a nice, comfortable place for people to come and stay and then tell their friends about it,” he says.

“But I don’t think they’re going to want something ultra-modern, they can get that in suburbia. So it’s got to have that country feel about it – open fires, pot belly stoves, timber flooring – that sort of thing,” he says.

Red tape

Talk to the local council about your plans for the business.

Check with your local council to see if special permits, licenses or other paperwork and permissions are needed to ensure the business complies with local laws.

“It’s also really important to check with councils to make sure what they (the owners) want to do can be done,” he says.

Service providers

How important is service to the business and how hands on will you need to be? Bradley says he often sees former executives buy a rural retreat come business to make a bit of money on the side as they head towards retirement.

“What I find is that I have a lot of people who purchase and their long-term goal is to come down here and have the lifestyle and the lifestyle property. So they’ll buy something and use it as a weekender in the interim, and then when they do retire they’ll move down permanently,” he says.

These owners often then turn the property into a business full-time offering B&B accommodation or using the property as a wedding venue.

Whether the owner manages the business day-to-day or has a professional do it on their behalf, consider how much of the property is for the business and how much room is needed for the property manager.

Also be clear about what level of service you can provide and what services may be best performed by others.

“If it’s holiday living and you’re not supplying breakfast, linen and everything else that goes with it, then I highly recommend getting a professional to manage it,” Bradley says.

Location, location

People love to visit a place with great scenery that is easy to get to and takes them away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The property needs to be in an area that is easy for customers to find but one that still has lush country views and a pretty setting.

“Look it’s got to be the right property and it’s got to be in the right area, it’s got to be accessible and it’s got have the views and a nice feel about it,” he says.

Potential income

If the property has potential as a business, the selling agent will know this, Bradley says.

“Any agent worth their salt should be advertising the fact that, hey there’s a business opportunity here,” he says.

If the property is already a business, the agent should be able to provide current returns to give buyers an indication of potential income.

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