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What every wannabe needs to know about finding/buying land

 
pollinator
Posts: 350
Location: Monticello Florida zone 8a
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This topic is intended for experienced property buyers to give advice on finding/buying raw, undeveloped land for off-grid home/farmsteading. Newbies are welcome to ask questions.

How do you haggle price?
What are the best ways to find a property?
Favorite realtor websites?
Any anecdotes, important lessons, hacks, tools, etc. ?

Thank you all!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1043
Location: Pac Northwest, east of the Cascades
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further away from civilization the land is lower the price

as soon as there is anything built on it the price goes up

neighbors make or break a property

there is lots more but I will let others have a chance to comment

One of the best videos on youtube about getting land

 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
Posts: 1043
Location: Pac Northwest, east of the Cascades
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Well since no one else has said it yet.

Water is key, figure out how your getting water asap. The biggest thing to cause a homestead to fail is hauling water too far. Get your water figured out and other things will follow that.
 
Posts: 9
Location: Coastal NorCal
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Don't buy in California unless there's some sort of permitted dwelling place already on property, if even if its a shack with a septic field. If you don't, getting something permitted will be a giant monumental headache, and until you get it the gavel of the law will always be hanging over your head.
 
master steward
Posts: 3841
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Usually the larger the property the cheaper it is per acre.  Sometimes smaller tracts cost as much as some of the larger tracts.

We don't haggle on the price.  We make an offer then we go from there.  It depends on the property, the situation, or even how much we want it.  Sometimes it will depend on an appraisal or how much the mortgage company will lend. I have turned down property when they didn't accept my offer or sometimes we will make a counter offer, it just depends.

Most of our purchases have been raw land.  I look at what it will take to get utilities to the land as that is a big expensive.  To bring in electricity it is by the foot.  Another big expense is water.  Will there need to be a well dug or will there be a coop water company to hook up to.  What does the water company charge to buy their membership and install the water meter.

Just a few of my thoughts ...
 
pollinator
Posts: 120
Location: North Idaho
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I bought 200 acres of farmland in 2002.  It had 145 acres of dry land wheat farm and the rest was timber.

It had been farmed by a neighbor since like 1962 and they basically considered it their land.  They had also infected the land with Goat weed, a form of wheat that is listed as a noxious weed.

I was unaware of the noxious weed issue when I bought the land and due to troubles with the neighbors telling us to leave the land I did not renew my lease with them.  I figured I would simply let the fields sit fallow for a year or two until I got the basics taken care of and got us moved out there.

The next spring after buying the place the neighbor came by and informed me that I had a severe noxious weed issue and that unless I leased him the land at a cut rate price for three years he would bring out the county weed inspector to nail me.  I immediately went online and started looking up the weed and what the county does in such cases.  I found that they would come out and give me 60 days to take care of the weed across 145 acres of land and if I was unable to comply they would hire a contractor to come out and do it at a highly inflated price and then put the $15K to $20K on my tax bill.

I realized that the neighbor had me by the short hairs on that so I agreed to 3 years, then he came back and wouldn't accept anything less than a five year lease.  He attempted to farm for 6 years on a five year lease and never paid me the rent for the last two years.  He also unbeknownst to me enrolled my forest land into a wild life program and was collecting money from the farm welfare department for it.

I would advise that anyone looking to buy an acreage go to the county weed inspector and ask them to do an inspection on any property that you are interested in.  If there is a noxious weed issue you will at least be "aware" of it.  This could also even be used to reduce the buying price of land if it has a known noxious weed issue.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3110
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I bought about 2acres of land with 1.7 acres of it wooded and I am finding that it is super expensive to get a company to come in and clear the lot leaving all the woodchip onsite. They even seem like a cheap company given that they sell and deliver 18 cubic yard of compost with 5% biochar for only $250. But $27,000 just seem like highway robbery.
 
master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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How do you haggle price?

I just offer a bit less than whatever it "should" be listed for.  So compare it to other properties, determine what it's fair market value is and then offer less than that since all the other properties are possibly also selling for a less than they are listed for.  If it's a hot market than ignore this advice...

What are the best ways to find a property?  Favorite realtor websites?

I did searches on Zillow and Realtor.com.  Get good at finding the satellite images of the properties and using the county GIS maps to further find rough property boundaries.  I'd always look at the land on the satellite before i bothered looking at the pictures of the house.  No sense getting excited if it is the wrong land type for you.

Any anecdotes, important lessons, hacks, tools, etc. ?

Figure out what is most important to you (utilities, pasture, particular type of trees, lake/river/stream, microhydro potential, established gardens/orchards, house, barn, pole building, distance from town, distance from hardware store, zoning and building codes, size lot, proximity to farms, etc) and then evaluate properties against those criteria.

Get more land if you can.  Close to town is nice for trips to the hardware/feed/grocery store.  Evaluate neighbors as much as you can within reason.  Check your state's child molester locator service to see if any live nearby.  Spy around with the satellite images and GIS airplane images to see if neighbors have dirt bike tracks, junk yards or other interesting things going on.  Maybe prioritize areas where the neighbors have gardens and/or livestock.

Try not to fall in love with a place until you buy it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 377
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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One word:  Water!  

No kidding, so much of the available (left over) land that is available at a reasonable price is in an area that geologically or politically has water constraints.  Before buying any property research where there is water and whom owns it.  I got some real shocks when I was at the searching stage of property acquisition.  The best location in the world; or the nicest property you can find, is no value if you can't get water to it legally or practically.

After you establish you can get life giving water, the next lesson learned is to research the soil type.  Here is a tip that is much easier (preliminary investigation) than sending soil sample to the lab for every piece of property you become interested.  UC Davis soil web.  Find the location on the map and check the soil report.

UC Davis soil web map
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
Posts: 1043
Location: Pac Northwest, east of the Cascades
278
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Here is a good video discussing looking for a farm online

 
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Personally, I couldn’t stand Zillow, Realtor, Landwatch, Landio, Landflip, Craigslist, etc.  Many of the listed properties really WEREN’T available, there were many bait and switch properties, so many issues with permits, water, utilities, easements and on and on and on...  Hours spent on researching counties laws, regulations, rules, permits and then when we finally WERE able to purchase then the loan process started.  So frustrating!

Thank goodness I found our property listed right here on Permies! Yay!
 
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