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Shopping for land to homestead near Seattle  RSS feed

 
Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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Hello Permies!
Long time lurker, first time poster. My wife and I recently (1 1/2 years ago) returned to the USA from traveling and living abroad. Permaculture became a theme in our lives throughout our traveling experiences and we, like yourselves feel that this is the way people were meant to live. We are currently looking for land to homestead somewhere around Seattle. We plan to be outside King County, though we are trying to stay as close to the city as possible. Sadly, as with most everyone, we are restrained by financial factors. Our absolute max mortgage would be ~200,000 and that would have to include an initial simple home. I am currently considering a pole barn with a small apartment inside.

I am reaching out to all of you, both to introduce myself, and to ask for any help/advice you might have to give us in finding and acquiring such a parcel. I have been slowly searching through the forums for helpful information, but I know so many of you have been through this before and while I continue the arduous process of research and self-education, i would be remiss if I didn't also attempt to make life easier on myself by asking for input.

I will continue to post as specific questions come up, for now, does anyone have any land for sale nearish Seattle or know of any? ~
What types of features would you suggest we look for?
Currently we are looking for sloped land, preferably south facing, partially forested, partially clear and preferably with some sort of water, year round creek maybe?

Gonna keep this short for now. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply!

-Chris Colwell, LMP
 
Christopher Colwell
Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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Oops! I lied! I forgot I posted a question about WVO systems when I was first looking at coming home and acquiring a Vehicle. Didn't end up following through with anything though since I was gifted a 91 civic hatchback that is still running strong. Hope to be able to take advantage of this communities knowledge in that area when I inevitably need to look for a new vehicle. For now though, LAND!
 
master steward
Posts: 5179
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Welcome to permies, and to the Seattle area!

Finding good, affordable property--with or without a house--is not easy around here! You'll find that most affordable property is either (A) a wetlands or (B) a steep slope. At least, that's what we were encountering when we did our real-estate search 3 years ago. We ended up getting lucky and we have a nice (albeit north-facing slope) 5 acres. It's important to find out how much--if any--of your property is wetlands, because the wetland and surrounding "protection" area are to be left pretty much undisturbed. They make a great Zone 5 area for wildcrafting, etc, but are not too good if they take up so much space that you have no where to build. Our 5 acres is 1/3 wetland, for instance.

I do know that quite a few of my neighbors have been trying to sell their property off and on over the past few years. It seems a lot of people have land they wouldn't mind selling, but don't advertise because they don't want to spend money putting it on real estate listings. Here's a post about one of the properties in my neibrohood that's selling for $118,000: http://www.permies.com/t/47577/cascadia/Won-Neighbor. I've walked some of the property and didn't see wetlands...but then, it's 5 acres, and I definitely did not explore it all. It's mostly flat with a slight north-west-facing slope, and seems to get good light if some trees were cleared away. I do not know why no one has purchased it yet, though. It may be they didn't want to live at the end of a gravel road (which my neighbors do a fantastic job of mainlining), they found another property they liked better, they bought a house instead, or something else. I've never met the owner of the property, as he lives somewhere else and bought it as investment property. From area photos, it looks like it has a stream running in the tip of the north-west corner...which probably means there's quite a bit of "wetlands" there. I have no idea how much, though!

There's been at least two other properties for sale around here, by another land owner, with Tax ID numbers of 28070700401600 and 28070700400800. These ones are north-west facing and east facing, respectively. The latter property has a small hunting cabin on it, if I recall correctly, and according to arial photos, it has a stream crossing it from north to south. The first property was up for sale last year for around $75,000 for 5 acres. I don't know how much the second property would be for sale for.

One great resource for researching property is Permit&Planning maps. This one (http://gis.snoco.org/maps/permits/index.htm), for Snohomish County, shows the elevation of land, where streams and flood zones are, where theres areas of UGAs (Urban Growth Areas, where development will soon be coming). Another great resource is Soil Maps, like this one: http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/gmap/, and this one: http://viewer.nationalmap.gov/viewer/. They're a great way of finding out what types of soils a given property has. Another resource is Slope Stability Maps/ Soil Liquidation Maps: ftp://ww4.dnr.wa.gov/geology/pubs/ofr04-20/ofr2004-20_sheet61_snohomish_liq.pdf. We are prone to earthquakes, and you probably don't want to build on unstable soil that will quiver so much that your house falls down (old river soils wiggle more in an earthquake than bedrock, for example.)

As for areas outside of my neighborhood, there are certain areas you might want to avoid. Granite Falls, for instance, has a big drug problem. So while property is cheaper there, it's not as safe a place. Same with sections of Marysville. We chose to live in our area because there is a lot less drugs and crime, and that was important to us as we wanted to have children (we have one, now .)

 
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Have you checked into the financing available? You might find it tough to finance land with a pole barn living quarters from a bank or mortgage company. They loan on homes with land where most of the value is in the home. That might have a big impact on your property search.

That being said, the rural development program might be useful. If there is a farm credit co-op near, they could offer financing on the property you describe.

 
Christopher Colwell
Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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Roger- Thank you for the heads up! I had mentioned the idea to a loan officer, but at the time I was only looking for a land loan and the topic only came up in passing. Went back and talked to someone about getting a construction loan and you are absolutely right, can't finance the pole barn idea. Damn.

Nicole- Thank you SOOO much! Your post has been incredibly helpful. And yes, we are interested in coming out to look at the parcel near you. To be honest we are really hoping to get more than 5 acres, but having like minded neighbors would be amazing. Its great that there are other properties as well, my best friend is hoping to buy an adjoining parcel to me. He is not as much of a permie as I am, but he has the right mindset and I am working to convert him. ;o)~ We may actually be in your area this weekend and the next weekend to look at 20 acres up on woods creek rd. Would not mind going to look at the property near you. I am concerned about the well, but not the road. I grew up on a shared private road. Definitely a pain in the ass, but not a deal breaker.

So... Now I am revising my plans based on the financing revelations. Gonna peruse the forums for info on green contractors, input on used mobile homes, other options. Any input, ideas, or pointing in the right direction would be welcome.

Thanks again for the replies! Will try to be more active in responding quickly. Was honestly a bit of a depressing weak after the meeting with the loan officer. Oh well, on to newer and better ideas!



 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 5179
Location: Pacific Northwest
1479
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You're welcome! I'd love to show you guys around if you're able to stop by. Anytime is great as long as my little one isn't napping or we're at church. The property (with the "bad" well) actually neighbors another empty 5 acre plot. If you have the funds in years to come, you could probably contact the owner of the land to buy it, too. As for the well, my neighbor (who's lived here a long time and knows a lot more than I do) and I were rather confused as to why it was a no-go. When my neighbor talked to the owner a few years back, the owner hadn't really seemed to have understood what was wrong with it. I've got water 30 feet down, and so does my neighbor. Though, the next property down the road has water is 200ft, so it might be there's a different aquifer there. There is, however, city water (and power) piped down there that just needs to be hooked up. If I see my neighbor, I'll ask him about the other property that was for sale, that already has a cabin on it (he's related to the owner of it). The third property that was for sale has no well or structures, but was only selling for $75,000.

Oh! And, if you stop by, don't worry about the "Trespassers will be Shot on Sight" sign. The people living there are really nice. I guess years ago there were some people living nearby who loved to joyride their quads down our road. So, they put up the sign up. In the three years I've lived here, though, I've never seen any crazy quad riders. I have to assume they're either gone or sufficiently cowed

Woods Creek is a lovely area, though you do pretty much have to drive through Monroe to get to it, which can be a pain in the rear, especially if there's an event happening at the fairground, or it's summer and everyone is driving Hwy 2 to cross the mountains or go hiking/camping. Though, looking at Redfin, the property you're looking at (which looks absolutely gorgeous!) is up by Dubuque, which connects you to Lake Stevens and Snohomish.
 
Posts: 33
Location: Vashon Island, Washington, USA
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Christopher: You may be interested in this opportunity: http://vashonlandtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Matsuda-RFP-Press-Release.pdf
the Vashon Land Trust has purchased Matsuda Farm, and is looking for proposals from farmers to restore and run the farm. Rural King County.
Warmly,
Diane
 
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