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Thinking of selling in SW Missouri near Branson -- Questions!  RSS feed

 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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For reasons I needn't go into here (except to say that circumstances force us to come up with a moderate amount of cash ASAP) we are looking to sell a parcel off our main property -- maybe 3 to 5 acres. We have sold land before (and I am really getting quite proficient at writing legal land descriptions at this point), but always before, the land had already changed hands several times and there was a clear idea of exactly which parcel was which through title chains going back to the 1800s. This time, we want to mark off a small section of a larger existing parcel that has not been subdivided, and we can't afford to have it surveyed. (Yes, I know... but we CAN”T afford it. We need money rather desperately.)

I decided to come here to throw out some questions and see what the permies community thinks of this.

I believe it is perfectly legal to do this type of “metes and bounds” sale without a survey -- so long as all the referenced points are clearly marked, a person walking the boundary using a legal description can find and verify the boundary lines, and all parties to the sale agree on the boundaries. If all those things are true, it should hold up in court should anyone contest the boundary lines in future. (In fact, I discovered that in some states on the east coast, properties still sell with legal description that read like this... “Find the rock where Bob Jones killed the bear, and walk about 50' or so to the west until you come up against a big hickory tree with the letters JM carved into the north side. Turn and walk south to the creek and follow north along that for somewhere around 300' to the corner of Tom Smith's apple orchard. Turn east and go back to the rock to find the total land enclosed in this parcel.” Seriously! I'm not making this up.)

What I want to know are several things...

1 -- Would YOU buy a parcel like this? I mean with no survey, but clearly marked corners and a verifiable legal description. Why or why not? (I should also tell you that the land we want to take this parcel out of is 100% paid for, clear titled, and with a complete title chain going back to the Civil War. There is nothing in the least ambiguous about any of the property lines for the main parcel, and those boundaries would be used to identify all but one of the corners of the basically rectangular smaller piece.)

2 -- Would it make a difference to you if you might (possibly) have the opportunity to buy the larger property that this parcel is divided from as well, in a few years? (The larger property is our homestead, and this is something we are considering.)

3 -- How much, if any, difference would it make to you if the seller (us) was a dyed-in-the-wool permie with a true spirit of cooperation and a very giving nature, to help you along in building your dream homestead. (Assuming you wanted help, of course. I am not talking about becoming your hire hands, but giving the benefits of 3 decades experience with gardening, animal care, building from scratch and a lot more. That could be a plus for an eager newbie, but we can also mind our own business if that is the preferred mode.)

4 -- If we do decide to sell, what should we emphasize to draw in someone who enjoys an old-fashioned, back-to-basics lifestyle combined with a more enlightened view of the planet (as in, organic, permaculture types who may be wanting to institute processes/ideas to combat climate change and deal with an uncertain future that may include food and water shortages -- among other things)? I know that is a BIG question, but if we are going to have close neighbors, we really want them to be compatible. Most of the people we deal with in our neck of the woods are rednecks in every sense of the word. Having people we can talk to and empathize with would go a long way toward making us feel better about selling a chunk of land. (We don't really WANT to sell, just NEED to.)

For anyone out there actually looking for a piece of land to homestead , the plot we want to sell is in SW Missouri about 12 miles from Forsyth (the county seat), 24 miles from Branson and about 7 miles from Cedarcreek. It fronts State Hwy M on the south side just a mile or so from the junction with US 160. The overall property is two slopes -- one west-facing, one south-facing -- with a v-shaped valley in between opening to the southwest. A seasonal creek runs down the center of the valley. The smaller parcel is in the valley in the southwesternmost corner. It is relatively low (elevation about 940' as opposed to the highest point on the whole property, which is at 1120') and next to the creek (which also has numerous small springs in it). It is mostly level.

There is little traffic along our rural road except during the local morning and evening “rush hours” (which last about an hour at both ends of the weekdays). Most of the time, you hear maybe six or seven cars per/hour go by. In winter, you may not hear that many all day. All neighbors own fairly large properties (no subdivision, just country homes) so are not crowded together. Your nearest neighbor (besides us on the east and north) would be a middle-aged couple who live on 2 acres across the creek to the west (nice, but very “rural” -- and out of sight behind a band of trees). No one across the road at all -- it's wood and pasture over there. You'd have power/phone/internet at the road, and a good, wide area to make a driveway access point from the same area.

Rural mail delivery to a mailbox on the road. (Delivers around 1pm each day.)

No city water because it is too far out, so a well or rain water catchment is necessary. (We hauled water from a spring in the creek for over 10 years until we got our well dug. Our 445' well -- dug from starting elevation of 1020' -- has good, clean, clear COLD water going through solid limestone -- so pure we don't even treat or filter it. There is a constantly flowing artesian well across the road on another property at about 900' elevation, and other neighbors have found water at under 100' down at that level, so you may not need to dig a really deep well. In fact, we hit water at 110' but went deeper to another underground stream for good measure. Our static level has never dropped below 180' down, even after prolonged drought.)

Ground around here grows rocks really well, so you'll have building material while clearing a garden space. We started out on rocks, but we have beautiful deep loam now from years of composting leaves and spreading manure and ashes. It only takes a little time and patience.

The actual parcel we have in mind to sell is mostly open glade with mature red cedars along the road and creek (sound and sight buffers, as well as erosion prevention along the creek) and some dry woodland on the eastern border. Around here ignorant people refer to glades as “trash land”, but some of the greatest species diversity (flora and fauna) you could want is on that trash land. Since the larger property borders Mark Twain National Forest along its entire eastern border, the animal life is incredible. We have deer, turkey, rabbits, squirrels, foxes (both red and gray), bobcats, coyotes, and we think we may even have (or have had) a semi-resident cougar, believe it or not. (One was sighted by a friend crossing the road less than half a mile from our place several years ago, and two other friends saw one in the woods about 4 miles from here while out hunting turkey one morning about that same time. I saw what appeared to be one come into the yard late one night about 15 years ago, but since it was only a silhouette in the moonlight, I could never be certain. Our then 2 year old GSD sure thought it was though. She was terrified and wet all over herself. I never knew her to do that EVER with any other animal before or after.) More bears have been sighted in this county than any other in Missouri. Even my mom and dad had one sit on their car, then on another occasion, climb a tree next to the house and step onto the upstairs deck. They are still pretty rare around here though. My parents live next to conservation land, and we live near Hercules Glade Wilderness, so there is more than enough opportunity for large predators.

As for recreation/entertainment... Branson -- with its theatres, mini golf-courses, shopping malls, theme-parks, and who knows what else -- while definitely not MY cup of tea, is a great attraction for many people. All that is about 25 or 30 miles away. (Only about 7 as the crow flies, but so far we haven't been able to round up enough crows willing or able to take us for a ride.) If nightlife, lights, traffic and noise aren't what you enjoy, we are less than a mile from an arm of Bull Shoals lake (you can see the lake from the top of our hill). Fishing, swimming, boating, etc. all can be had there and in the many other clear lakes, rivers and streams that abound in our karst landscape. If hiking and camping are your thing, you will never run out of trails or forests and parks to choose from. As I mentioned earlier, the national forest is right next door and you can walk from our house all the way to Hercules Glade Wilderness without stepping on private property. There are thousands of acres to explore without resort to a vehicle.

Taxes on this entire property only amount to about $60 or $70 per year -- probably one of the lowest rates anywhere in the country.

Well, that should be enough to give you an idea about the place -- we haven't set a price yet because we still haven't decided exactly how much acreage we want to sell, but the aim is to raise about $10,000 to $15,000. (We've heard that smaller parcels sell for more than larger ones. Go figure!) For the right person (especially a young family with homestead goals), that could include access to our woodlot for firewood and some building materials, and use of our land to cross over to the national forest (on foot only -- though you can access it other ways down the highway a bit). This would also be a great place to make a getaway cabin or for vacation access to all the lakes and forests (and Branson too, if you like that sort of thing -- beats the heck out of the hotel prices over there, and its close enough to drive back and forth for “family fun” all summer).

Anyway... sorry for the book... If you still remember my questions at this point, could you please weigh in with opinions? (Especially real estate people and attorneys or anyone involved in regular land sales) Thanks!












 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Hi, Deb....we own five acres that has a 'self survey'. My husband and the land owner did the survey with a steel tape and a compass...they found out from the county clerks office what was expected in this county and followed those guidelines. This was thirty five years ago. The land description was transferred to a deed and all is well. the shape is very odd more of a parallelogram There are details that you need to know in order to get the correct readings with the compass...they did not stake or blaze just used the original surveyed line along one side a bluff line with rock shelters on another and a creek bed along a third...the fourth was up a mountain side....they measured trees,etc. as part of the description....all very steep and rocky terrain but doable.We have a legal deed, pay land taxes, etc.

We did this again on the forty acres we are on now in order to sell a bit of it and my husband got as far as doing another 'self survey' on a six acre corner that had some natural bounderies...two sides original survey lines and two sides driveway and right of way roads. The survey was mainly to determine the acreage and in the end we decided to sell the whole forty.

We would buy a self surveyed piece IF we knew the owner or had some kind of confidence in their trustworthiness.
I could post more information if you are interested....I don't know if Missouri looks at this the same as Arkansas.
Our survey for this forty was done the the last time in the early seventies with chain measurements when an original 80 acre homestead was split in half...some are insisting that laser is the only way to go now but it is also screwing up some decades old boundary lines in some areas....
 
chip sanft
pollinator
Posts: 414
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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We bought our 18 acres without a survey, which would have been too expensive, and without discernible markers except fences. We did have the plat map to refer to in addition to the legal description, so it had been surveyed at some point.

In our case it works because of the fence around most of it and the unfenced area having a nice woody area that isn't useful except as a buffer. So we don't care and they don't care and there's space enough that unclarity isn't an issue.

I think, though, this kind of arrangement depends on various things. Because if you or your new neighbors want to go right up to the property line, it could get tricky. Or if, for example, they decide they want to plow a section and cross over into what you think is your area. Or if, worse yet, they want to use pesticides or herbicides and it's on what you think is your land.

I'd also keep in mind that it's not just the people who buy the parcel but the people they might sell or transfer to. So I wouldn't depend on choosing good buyers.

Finally, if you decide to do this, it I think you might consider putting a fence along what you think is the line. That can be a good way to establish a status quo that only a really determined pain in the butt would want to challenge later on.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
23
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Judith Browning wrote:Hi, Deb....we own five acres that has a 'self survey'. My husband and the land owner did the survey with a steel tape and a compass...they found out from the county clerks office what was expected in this county and followed those guidelines. This was thirty five years ago. The land description was transferred to a deed and all is well. the shape is very odd more of a parallelogram There are details that you need to know in order to get the correct readings with the compass...they did not stake or blaze just used the original surveyed line along one side a bluff line with rock shelters on another and a creek bed along a third...the fourth was up a mountain side....they measured trees,etc. as part of the description....all very steep and rocky terrain but doable.We have a legal deed, pay land taxes, etc.

We did this again on the forty acres we are on now in order to sell a bit of it and my husband got as far as doing another 'self survey' on a six acre corner that had some natural bounderies...two sides original survey lines and two sides driveway and right of way roads. The survey was mainly to determine the acreage and in the end we decided to sell the whole forty.

We would buy a self surveyed piece IF we knew the owner or had some kind of confidence in their trustworthiness.
I could post more information if you are interested....I don't know if Missouri looks at this the same as Arkansas.
Our survey for this forty was done the the last time in the early seventies with chain measurements when an original 80 acre homestead was split in half...some are insisting that laser is the only way to go now but it is also screwing up some decades old boundary lines in some areas....


Thanks Judith -- that is very helpful. I imagine, Missouri and Arkansas being so close together, that whatever one does is probably at least close to the same thing the other does, but who knows. I can use a transit and I have done surveying myself in field school (in my archaeology training days) so, though a bit rusty, it wouldn't take long to polish up those skills if I could rent the equipment for a few days. I haven't used a laser transit because I learned on one of the old-fashioned wood and brass versions back in the 1980s, but since I can orient with a compass as well, I can always go the compass and tape route, if nothing else.

I got my experience in writing land descriptions in a college geology class, and it has been amazingly useful -- starting with the time one seller (a lawyer) tried to sell us a piece of land including an acre we already owned! I always read land contracts VERY carefully now. I've had to rewrite the legal descriptions on every parcel of land we have ever bought because none of them were correct as they stood -- despite two of them being written by the presiding judge of the county and another by that attorney!!! (In fact, the people in the maps department for the county had them all marked as having errors until I cleared them up. They were pretty happy to finally draw the lines properly on the maps -- some of the errors were decades old and it was screwing up their ability to collect taxes. I cleared a muddled title for one of my neighbors as well.)


chip sanft wrote:We bought our 18 acres without a survey, which would have been too expensive, and without discernible markers except fences. We did have the plat map to refer to in addition to the legal description, so it had been surveyed at some point.

In our case it works because of the fence around most of it and the unfenced area having a nice woody area that isn't useful except as a buffer. So we don't care and they don't care and there's space enough that unclarity isn't an issue.

I think, though, this kind of arrangement depends on various things. Because if you or your new neighbors want to go right up to the property line, it could get tricky. Or if, for example, they decide they want to plow a section and cross over into what you think is your area. Or if, worse yet, they want to use pesticides or herbicides and it's on what you think is your land.

I'd also keep in mind that it's not just the people who buy the parcel but the people they might sell or transfer to. So I wouldn't depend on choosing good buyers.

Finally, if you decide to do this, it I think you might consider putting a fence along what you think is the line. That can be a good way to establish a status quo that only a really determined pain in the butt would want to challenge later on.


Chris,
The idea of fencing the property line is a really good one. We actually thought about that, but I had forgotten until you mentioned it. It would actually serve a double purpose, since we have dogs and goats that sometimes get out of their respective fenced yards and wander where they shouldn't.

You hit the nail on the head here... "I'd also keep in mind that it's not just the people who buy the parcel but the people they might sell or transfer to. So I wouldn't depend on choosing good buyers."

We sold 23 acres about 12 years ago to a very nice Mormon family with 4 kids who wanted to get away from the town-life and settle into homesteading. They talked the organic, natural, old-fashioned lifestyle up one side and down the other. He promised us that they never would sell and that the place would be passed down to their kids. We were so taken in that we even sold the place (owner-financed) with only a 5% down, and interest-free, open-ended loan, letting them decide the payment amounts to suit their budget while they were getting started. (Talk about naive!!!) Long story, short... a year later, the wife died of complications of diabetes, he remarried 3 months after her death (he was already actively looking before she was a week in the ground) and moved his kids and new wife and her daughter to HER bigger, better piece of land in another town. They sold the 23 acres (at a big profit) to a couple of hillbilly rednecks who spend all their spare time burning piles of plastic and tires and shooting at anything that moves on the property! Their other hobby is sitting in their trucks, revving the motors for hours at a time. That's why, this time, we intend to cover that contingency by selling the land with a conservation easement on it, preserving it as a single-family residence with certain land-use restrictions, so even if we don't like the potential future neighbors, they can't destroy the place or put up a trailer court on it.

That brings up another question I meant to ask. How do you (anyone here, I mean) feel about buying land with a conservation easement on it? We don't intend it to be super restrictive, just want to keep developers away who might think it would be a great place for condos or trailers on tiny lots. So far this area is only zoned for residential homes and farms, but that could change and we want to be ready for it.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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That's why, this time, we intend to cover that contingency by selling the land with a conservation easement on it, preserving it as a single-family residence with certain land-use restrictions, so even if we don't like the potential future neighbors, they can't destroy the place or put up a trailer court on it.

That brings up another question I meant to ask. How do you (anyone here, I mean) feel about buying land with a conservation easement on it? We don't intend it to be super restrictive, just want to keep developers away who might think it would be a great place for condos or trailers on tiny lots. So far this area is only zoned for residential homes and farms, but that could change and we want to be ready for it.


Deb, i don't know what is involved....do you hold the conservation easement or some third party? I am interested in doing that for this land. The landowner sets the guidelines within limits, I guess....but do they actually have control forever?
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Deb, i don't know what is involved....do you hold the conservation easement or some third party? I am interested in doing that for this land. The landowner sets the guidelines within limits, I guess....but do they actually have control forever?


Judith, A friend of ours, who is an environmental attorney, told us bluntly that there is really no such beast as "in perpetuity". Despite legal terms like that which supposedly guarantee that whatever you put on paper about the place is what will happen to it after you sell or die, there is always a loop-hole of some kind around that sort of thing. However, he went on to say that establishing a conservation easement through an established land trust (like the Nature Conservancy for example -- although they are picky about which lands they will protect) or a long-standing organization within your state or local area (in our case, there is a very well-established public land trust available) is probably the best bet. Doing something in a personal will is apparently a real booger and takes all sorts of interesting twists and turns that can trip you up. It also depends upon family or named heirs to uphold the contract. (A child may do it, but their child may have other ideas.) Land trusts are bigger organizations without personal stakes in the land. Their goal is conservation. As long as they stay in business (THAT is the iffy part and why you want one that has a good, long track record) they have people whose sole job is to check up on the lands in their trust and enforce the easements.

Usually, and easement is clearly stated. Like... for example... a certain portion of the land (which would be expressed in a legal description) may be used in whatever way is in the owners interests, so long as it doesn't involve major overhauling of the landscape and involves only a single residence with a reasonable number of outbuildings for personal use. So a house, shop, barn, hen house, family garden or even a small pond would be considered acceptable use, whereas bringing in bulldozers to clear a multi-acre field for agri-buisiness, a factory farm operation or a condominium development would definitely be out! On the rest of the property, the conservation easement may stipulate leaving the natural landscape intact with exceptions like clearing non-native or invasive species or doing controlled burns on a regular schedule. Most easements allow free use of the natural landscape for walking trails -- and may include permissions for shelters or benches, etc. -- but may outlaw ATVs, for example. Each one is different, and it is usually a cooperative agreement with the owners and the land trust to stipulate the exact terms of the easement.

We don't have one in place right now, but that is the general information about them that I have gleaned over the years of looking into various kinds of trusts and easements. The main reason we don't have one in place yet, is that we can't afford it. What most people may not realize is that is costs big bucks to establish a conservation easement (for our 75 acres it would run about $10,000). The land trust explained that they need those fees to do the legal groundwork AND to pay people to go out and check to see that easements are being honored. Maybe they do not all do that, but I don't have wide experience with it, and that is what I have come up against in our area. I think more land would be saved for conservation if people could afford it.

Anyway, hope that helps!
 
wren haffner
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Hi Deb, curious as to the follow up of this inquiry- did you decide to parcel off some of your land in this way?

My partner and I are interested in 2-5~ acres in So. Missouri so this post caught my eye. Please email me if you have some land you'd like to sell! Thanks! Lunagrow(at]gmail

...

Best,

Wren
 
wren haffner
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Also as I read out loud the full description to my partner, we both got pretty excited! What a piece of land~ and some kindred spirits in a place where I imagined I'd have to have mainly plant friends... Haha! We are both permaculture lovers, having wwoofed, interned, natural built extensively... Rainbowbridgetotheheart(dot)com is where we've shared some writings to give you an Internet peek of us hope to hear from you!
 
Lyda Eagle
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Hi, 

I realize it has been 3 yrs since you post about selling a few acres but, it never hurts to ask so, I was wondering if you have already sold all you plan too or if you might still have some available.  I am looking for 2 to 5 acres  depending on the price.  You sound like you think a great deal like I do when it comes to land and living.
If you could let me know I would appreciate it.
Thanks
Lyda
 
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