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Need advice on finding a buyer for my 1 acre Madison WI suburban homestead  RSS feed

 
steward
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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Hey Midwestern permies: any advice on finding a buyer for our suburban permaculture inspired property? It looks like we might need to move, something we never planned on. I've been planting trees, bushes and perennials for more than a decade, and the only thing that breaks my heart more than leaving them behind is the idea of the next land owner ripping them out because fruit trees are "too much work."

Our property is in the village of Waunakee, which is just north of Madison, WI. It takes less than half an hour to get to the capitol building, central city, etc. We are immediately adjacent to the village's middle school, high school, library, elementary school and intermediate school, so kids can walk to school from K-12. The property looks like a pretty normal lot from the front, but is actually one acre in size, with a large outbuilding out back. I've been keeping chickens here for 11 years, sort of under the radar, but if a subsequent home owner continued to have hens (no rooster!) it should be fine. I've been building soil here for over a decade--any advice on finding a buyer that values this?

The house is around 3000 sqft, and we just installed a geothermal heating and cooling system this past summer. Doing that involved a lot of digging, so I completely re-landscaped the front yard, with a hugelkultur berm, much less lawn, dozens of day lilies (edible!) and over 3000 perennial bulbs, including camassia. We have had a solar hot water system for years, which means that we don't even use the backup on-demand natural gas water heater from May through October (we turn it off!). Even in the rest of the year, most of our hot water needs are covered by the sun.

This is a great opportunity for someone who is trying to move in a permaculture direction, but can't live off grid on a hundred acres. My problem is that I need to find the people who will appreciate the unusual things we've done here. The typical home owner is not interested in having 2 paw paw trees. . .
 
Julia Winter
steward
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OK, make that 1.5 paw paw trees, but the big thriving one has little green fruits on it this summer! (The small barely surviving one did not flower, so I don't know how this happened--I was told that you have to have 2 varieties of paw paw to get fruit. Maybe these little fruits will fall off. . .

We have extensive edible landscaping, with three apple trees on property and three more unpruned ones hanging over our property that actually gave me more and higher quality fruit (hurray for not pruning!) last year, a peach tree, a pie cherry tree, maybe a dozen blueberries, raspberries, hardy "Prime-Jim" blackberries, a blackcurrant bush, jerusalem artichokes in abundance, asparagus and winecap stropharia mushrooms spreading throughout the yards of wood chips I trucked into a shady part of the property. The only chemical we've used on our property in over a decade is (very) occasionally some glyphosphate. The soil here started out pretty good and has become simply amazing.

I put something about it on Madison's Craigslist, but have only gotten a couple of not very serious nibbles. I would guess that's because our price is starting at $375K.
 
Posts: 469
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www.homesteadingtoday.com has a real estate section.
 
pollinator
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I posted my house on craigslist (try it in the farm/garden section!), and also on the local sustainable ag. listserv. My realtor actually changed the description per my request to include listing the many varieties of fruit trees and shrubs I had planted as edible landscaping. And we found a buyer who was very excited to get them all, too!
 
Julia Winter
steward
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Thanks! I went ahead and started a thread there on the "real estate" board.

You can see it here.

Ooh! I have posted on craigslist, but in the real estate, for sale by owner section. Maybe I should try the farm/garden section. That's where the farmers, gardeners, and wanna-be farmers hang out, right?

Or, maybe I should get off the computer and pack up some more stuff.
 
pollinator
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My sister and her husband bought their homestead from Craigslist. It was the goats and guinea hens that came with the place that hooked them.

I hope sells fast for you!!
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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That's a really nice post and I love the photos! If I were moving there, I'd want to buy it!

If the chickens are really illegal, maybe downplay them some. Lots of people keep illegal chickens but no point advertising the fact you're doing it or you could create problems for yourself.
 
Julia Winter
steward
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Yeah, a helpful lady from northern or central Wisconsin took the time to look through Waunakee's website and find out that chickens are now illegal. Bless her heart. Back in 2000 when we moved in I looked hard for information about chickens, and only found something referring to "animal units per acre," where a horse or a cow was one animal unit and smaller critters were less than one unit. I checked with our neighbors on either side--we really only have close neighbors on either side on Winston Way--and they were fine with some hens.

Over the past dozen years many of our neighbors (probably all of them!) have known about the chickens, but it's never led to any trouble. We've had the police over to our house a few times returning runaway dogs, but never any issues about poultry!

Don't worry--we would never put something about chickens in an official listing. Here on permies.com or (I would think) over on homesteadingtoday.com it should be OK. But, maybe I'm wrong. It's too late to turn me in--my hens have already found a new home, outside of the village limits. Even our stockpiled eggs are all gone--we have to buy eggs! Unless I can be fined for having chicken poop! (I still have some of that.)
 
Julia Winter
steward
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I have added a bunch more photos to my thread at homesteadingtoday.com. I have had some nibbles, nothing serious. I need advice on how to inspire myself to pack things up and declutter. I have this problem where when I look at a mess I get overwhelmed and can't think. Everywhere I look I see tasks that need to be done, and somehow the end effect is that not enough gets done!
 
Renate Howard
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My husband gets like that and what he found helpful is to limit his "To Do" list to just 10 items per day. (Mine is closer to 25 a lot of days). I find if I write down what I want to accomplish in the day, even tho things may take longer or not get done that day, it really helps keep me focused and I get a lot more accomplished.

The people we got our house from didn't de-clutter and it really harmed their efforts at selling the house - it took them 2.5 years before we came along, and I have to say, we bought this place because we fell in love with the property, the house looked pretty bad at the time.

When we sold our house, we got one of the best realtors in the region and she gave me a 5 page long list of what to do to get the house to sell quickly. I did almost all of it, and we got two offers at the open house - we accepted one that later backed out (girl was engaged and hadn't consulted her fiancée before making an offer on the house!) and got another offer a week after we put it back on the market. She had us not only declutter (she said because the basement was spacious it would be fine to pack the "clutter" and stack the boxes in the basement, otherwise she'd have had us rent storage until we found a buyer), but also get some "show" furniture that was more modern looking, new drapes, new carpet, fresh paint everywhere, new appliances, new countertops, and more. It wound up costing us around $20,000 but it raised the list price of the house by $50,000 and we got bids that were asking price - no negotiating. The furniture we got was cheap from Wal-Mart, but it served the purpose of looking better than what we had - I got a metal/wood table/chair set with matching barstools for around $200 total, our chairs were dinged and stained with chips, etc. I got some nice looking wood coffee tables from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store to replace what we had, sheers from Sears (they have good sale prices!) to replace our faded thermal drapes, etc. We had to get a new bedding set too. It was horrible - cheap polyester but the realtor recommended throw pillows on the bed and this set came with color-coordinated ones that were cheaper than buying them individually. That got donated to charity as soon as we moved, LOL!

We had Home Depot put in the carpet for us, one of their inexpensive "stock" carpets, and it was surprisingly affordable. We also had to repair everything that was in need, and we hired a handyman to knock all those little things out for us - it's great because a lot of them were things we hadn't done because we were "stuck" on how to do one little part of it, but the handyman, with more experience, knew just what to do and did it right. We had an electrician put in some new modern light fixtures (again, inexpensive from Home Depot, but not tarnished or dated looking like what we had were), both outdoors at the entryways, and in the kitchen and bathrooms. Our master bathroom was in really bad shape so we had the plumber, who also did tile work, tile the floor and shower enclosure, and to save money we put in a nice shower curtain instead of replacing the nasty acrylic door.

I also replaced the sagging particle board shelves in the master bedroom closet with a painted entertainment center (for shelving) and some other new shelves, all painted the same gloss brown to look like dark wood. If you buy plywood at Home Depot or Lowe's, they'll cut it for you to whatever dimensions you need so making "custom" shelves becomes pretty easy. And you can get entertainment centers (you know, those tall cabinets they used to put TV's, etc. in) for almost free now that everyone wants flat screen TV's.
 
Julia Winter
steward
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Thanks for the encouragement, Renate! We've done many of the same things--painted all the walls and ceilings, replaced dated wallpaper, had the oak floors refinished (that was expensive, but boy, does it look nice!) and had two handymen in here finishing up all the projects my DH started but didn't complete. OK, here's my brief to-do for today: I will clean up and take pictures of the kitchen and all three bathrooms. Then I'll post them on my homesteadingtoday.com real estate "listing." First, I need to get the camera from my husband. . .
 
Julia Winter
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Our house is still for sale, and I could still use advice!

I have paid to list our house with Lands of America, which handles the online real estate listings for Mother Earth News. It costs $33/month, and in the past week, our house has turned up in searches 288 times and has been viewed 31 times. I put our real estate agent's name and phone number down as the contact info, because I didn't want my info out there on the web, so we'll have to ask people how they found our place in order to find out if the ad really has led to a viewing. (The email goes to me, and I haven't gotten any yet.)
 
Julia Winter
steward
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I've also created a blog at http://waunakeeacre.blogspot.com so I can point people there via posters. I've printed up some posters, with one of two headlines: "Urban Farmer Wanted!" - to post at the Willy Street Food Co-ops in Madison and Middleton; or "Gardener's Paradise!" to post at Jung's Garden Stores and maybe some other places. They have the blog URL at the bottom, and little tear-offs with a shortened URL to the same place. (goo.gl/432F7)

If anybody has a good idea where I could post some of these 8 1/2 x 11 posters, I'd love to hear. Where would people daydreaming about getting a bigger place, with room to garden/farm, look at a flyer on a bulletin board?
 
Julia Winter
steward
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Our home is still for sale, and we're likely to accept as little as $340K if it is a solid offer without contingencies. I am already in Portland, with my daughters, and my husband is still inu Wisconsin.

I've added my blog to my personal data here, but it looks like I need to put the address into my signature. . .
 
master steward
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Hi Julia, May I throw my 2 cents in?
I know nothing about the area your house is in. So I can only go by where I live , in Denver.
In my area a really nice home like yours would be priced in about the same range. But the folks who buy these homes are corporate executives, pilots, doctors etc.
They are not interested, for the most part , in permaculture. They hire out their landscaping to others, who use all sorts of chemicals to keep things looking good.
$300,000 bucks and up is a lot for most folks. Maybe , most permies folks? I am wondering if you are marketing to the wrong people?

I hope nobody takes offence, because I mean none. I am just trying to help you sell your home.

I know you have put so much love and hard work into the land , just as I have with every home I have lived in, I know that you would love to sell it to someone who would carry on, but the truth is that the next owner may not care about any of it. So you may need to be ready to sell to the person who has the money but doesn't garden, rather than to try so hard to find a gardener with money.
Someone who has a $300,000.00 Mortgage may be working so hard to pay each month , they do not have time to take care of all you have done.
My point is that you may have to focus more on the "upscale" nature of the home itself, and market it to a more "upscale" group of people?
People who may see chickens as less than desirable and permaculture gardens as bug ridden jungles to be clear cut.
 
Julia Winter
steward
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No offense taken--you are right. The people who can afford our property are not impressed by the fruit trees and raised bed gardens.

Plans are in motion to deconstruct the main raised bed garden. The chicken room has been cleared out. I'm gone, so it doesn't hurt quite as much.

(She tells herself, sniffling.)

It pisses me off that people don't appreciate the friggin geothermal H/C system. We spent $15k on it, and it will pay for itself, just not for us. Same thing with the solar hot water system, although at least we got several years out of that. The first offer from the only folks who have made an offer was less than what we paid in 2000 plus the cost of the geothermal.
 
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