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!! Would love to hear your story of affording and finding land

 
Dylan Gillies
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Location: Cascadia!! (West Seattle for now)
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Hey there.

I'm 26 living in Seattle. I've been dreaming of finding some raw acreage somewhere on the west coast near surf and building a home and planting lots of trees for a few years now. I've been diligently looking at Zillow for properties, knowing that even if I found one I wouldn't be able to buy it yet..

My plan is to save save save and hopefully find the perfect land that I can restore into a place of beauty and tranquillity.

I've seen so many videos and webinars of young people who somehow can buy land, quit their jobs to move into their property. How the hell?! I just don't quite get it... but I'd love to hear your story of similar success just for my pleasure and inspiration.

If only John Locke's concept of private property were still respected... everyone has rights to natural resources which are within their means of imposing their labor onto.
 
Casie Becker
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How small do you want to hear? I only have half an acre in a subdivision, but if felt like a miraculous event to me. It will never be a full fledged farm, but it is a foothold where I can make real changes in how I impact the world.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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28 [Just turned last month in fact] living in Graham with family while saving up for my land [and blessed to have 5 acres of family property to homestead in the meantime.]

Are you set on this region? It's very expensive here compared to some others [but it is a favorable climate and I'm not planning to leave.]

As to finding the land you're looking for, can you give me a size bracket? My own target of over 100 acres is very different from... say... 20 acres which is also quite different from 4.

Also, are you picky about topography? I actually prefer to have plentiful slope to the land to move water around.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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We weren't super young when we bought our land - mid to late 30s.  We were fortunate to work in a high-paying industry (showbiz) and saved for four years to purchase the land in another state from that in which we lived and worked.  After that we had one exceptionally good year in which we earned more than $90,000 combined (the one and only time we did so) and were able to contract for a house to be built (picked from a catalog) and move.  The first year after we moved and were operating our own business, we earned $2500 from that business.  It seems a bit insane now looking back on it, but we were desperate to get out of Los Angeles.  Our land is far from perfect and our house is cheap-ass.  We made a lot of mistakes due to ignorance, mistakes you can avoid by spending vast amounts of time reading here on permies.  I wish I'd had this resource back then!

 
Dylan Gillies
Posts: 22
Location: Cascadia!! (West Seattle for now)
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Casie Becker wrote:How small do you want to hear? I only have half an acre in a subdivision, but if felt like a miraculous event to me. It will never be a full fledged farm, but it is a foothold where I can make real changes in how I impact the world.


Yo! Any size is cool! Just wanna hear stories. Does your land have water on it?
 
Dylan Gillies
Posts: 22
Location: Cascadia!! (West Seattle for now)
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Are you set on this region? It's very expensive here compared to some others [but it is a favorable climate and I'm not planning to leave.]

As to finding the land you're looking for, can you give me a size bracket? My own target of over 100 acres is very different from... say... 20 acres which is also quite different from 4.

Also, are you picky about topography? I actually prefer to have plentiful slope to the land to move water around.


Hey man, you talking graham, wa? Outside of Tacoma? Just had to look it up, not familiar with it...

For me, I'd love 100 acres, plenty of room to expand and add neighbors, but I'd settle for 5acres too..all depends on the land. Yes, I'm down with mixed topo for sure. I gotta have my gravity fed water! Or maybe at least a water ram...

I'm actually tryina get out of Washington, I'm sick of the clouds and drizzle. I'd love Sonoma, Santa Cruz, mendo county. I'd love having 200+days of sun. I'd deeply consider NE oly pen too..
 
Dylan Gillies
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Location: Cascadia!! (West Seattle for now)
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Yo Tyler!

Where'd y'all find land and how much acreage?

$2,500? lol that's ruff! What was the small biz?
 
Tyler Ludens
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We initially wanted to move to North Carolina but gave up on that because it was just too far to go from California, same with Florida  - my husband has family in both these states.  We settled on Texas where I have family, and decided on the Hill Country of Central Texas where I grew up.  We looked at various 5 acre parcels and realized that the small parcels were very expensive per acre and that we could get four times as much land for only twice the price, so we ended up with 20 acres.  That has proven to be far more than we can properly care for but seems to be the minimum for a feeling of privacy from neighbors.  Our small business is making specialty costumes and props for the entertainment industry.  We were nuts to think we could conduct this biz from the middle of nowhere but that's what we've done for the past almost 20 years!  The industry has changed dramatically in the past couple of years though, so our income has plummeted (not quite down to that first year!) and we're transitioning to another silly business - making model drivers for slotcars. Obviously neither my husband nor I are good at coming up with practical business ideas.... 
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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The story of my farming life is that people come up to me and say. "I wish that you would farm my land." They don't want money, or vegetables, or my time. They just wish that someone that they know and respect would take care of their land for them, so that it isn't such a burden to them. They continue to pay the taxes and for irrigation water. I just manage the land as if it were my own.

I am constantly turning down these sorts of offers because I am already taking care of all the land I can use effectively.

 
Christopher Colwell
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Location: Seattle Area
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LOVE THIS POST!
Loved reading other peoples stories! Here is ours... Also in Seattle. Currently in an apartment in Lynnwood. Just bought 5 acres out east of Duvall. We started off with a significant down payment from our savings while we were teaching English in South Korea. The initial plan was simply to fix up the amenities (well and septic) and throw a trailer on it then build a dream home with Cobb or Cord-wood masonry or hay bale.  Fortunately for us, my mother-in-law came forward with some early inheritance that has opened a whole new realm of possibilities. We are still very restrained by finances. If you want to have an idea of what is necessary financially to buy land and build, there is a woman named Susan at the Lynnwood Washington Federal bank (a portfolio lender, meaning they will make their money off your interest rather than making their money from selling your loan on the market). She offers a free 90 minute class where she walks you through all the financial expectations and permitting steps that the process involves. Its not a perfect class that will prepare you for everything, but at-least it helps you understand the banks perspective.  We got our land for a crazy cheap price, but we are located on the east boarder of nothing. There is literally no civilization east of us unless you go north to 2, or south to 90 or all the way east of the cascades. Its pretty awesome!!! Now we need to determine how much we can afford to build based on the gift from my mother in law and our very limited income. Interest rates are spiraling upward and the world is so crazy right now. We see this as our best opportunity to invest for our retirement, but there has also been a court ruling against Whatcom county recently regarding private wells. It is still up in the air whether king county will ban building permits on private wells the way that some other counties have done in reaction to the ruling.  I'm planning to start a blog outlining the process we are going through, but for now I would recommend Google earth to check what a parcels layout really feels like. https://www.redfin.com/ http://www.home4investment.com/ and as you know... Zillow. Watch them like a hawk. Look for good deals. Check the good ones using google earth to find nearby power lines, or other odd geological features. Also use http://gismaps.kingcounty.gov/iMap/ too look up public records using the parcel number.  Let me know if you ever want to grab a beer, I love to talk about this stuff and would love to make more permies friends in my area. Same goes for anyone on here. Would love to start a Seattle permies.com meetup. Does such a thing already exist?
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 745
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Dylan Gillies wrote:Hey man, you talking graham, wa? Outside of Tacoma? Just had to look it up, not familiar with it...
yes

For me, I'd love 100 acres, plenty of room to expand and add neighbors, but I'd settle for 5acres too..all depends on the land. Yes, I'm down with mixed topo for sure. I gotta have my gravity fed water! Or maybe at least a water ram...

I'm actually tryina get out of Washington, I'm sick of the clouds and drizzle. I'd love Sonoma, Santa Cruz, mendo county. I'd love having 200+days of sun. I'd deeply consider NE oly pen too..

The Olympic rainshadow certainly has a comfortable climate, but your highest acrage for the buck is likely to be found east of the Cascades/Sierras.

Just remember that earthworks can multiply the effective rainfall of a smaller growing zone from a larger catchment.
 
Cass Hazel
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Location: Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada (Zone 3)
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My partner and I (25 & 23 yo) recently went through the process of finding land and purchasing it! We run our own small horticulture/landscaping company. We love the freedom of working for our selves. We have saved money by moving home, i.e.: to my partner's mother's house(I built a tiny house on property that has a loft for sleeping, we use the space for designing and relaxing). We no longer are wasting money on rent and this has helped us to save up money over the last year.  It is true that, in our first year of business, we made more money than we expected we would.  But this accumulation of wealth did not spur us to buy land.

For more than 3 years now we have actively been searching for land. Even when our bank accounts registered under $10,000. Ever since we made the decision to find land we have gone and looked at listings, hunted down realtors, and posted ads on kijiji expressing our desire for our own plot.

We suggest starting your quest with an advertisement in your local paper, kijiji, craigs list or facebook. Keep it simple. Ours read like this: "Young couple seeking land. budget of $100,000. Within an hour of the city. Preferably well treed with no buildings on site. We are a young couple who dream of living off land and preserving a unique piece of the environment in the process."

Next search out a couple realtors. In our situation we chose a rural realtor and a city realtor. We had both of them enter us into the MLS portal with specific search criteria: budget, amount of land, distance from town, etc.

Whenever a potential property pops up GO AND LOOK AT IT. You are not obligated to make an offer. You can drive out and see the place even if you know you don't want to buy it. Get used to walking properties, asking important questions and getting a feel for the area you would most like to be in. 

Our number one tip: Do not set a limit on yourself. Think big. We set a $100,000 budget without even having enough money for a down payment. We looked at everything from 10 acres to 160+. You have to tell yourself that you WILL find the perfect place. Believe in yourself and it will all work out. Walk at the brick wall with no fear and the wall will allow you passage. We found a unique parcel of 160 acres that fit most of our criteria and we couldn't get it out of our minds. We made a decision to try for it with all that we had and it worked for us!

When you have found the place, make an offer and stick to it. If you really want the land do not let someone bully you out of it. Be smart and logical. If the realtor says that someone else is willing to make an offer only hours after you, he may be bluffing. Some realtors will manipulate as much as possible. You have to play them or they will play you.

The same is true of the banks. You have to play them. SHOP AROUND. Pit them against each other. Look for loans that cater to young farmers. We got approved for a young farmer loan and used that as leverage to get a line of credit at another bank. In our case we were offered a very high % at one bank and a very low % at another. Once we told the first bank of the lower offer they immediately offered us prime plus 1, which is about as low as you can go.

In the end we opted for a line of credit. This means we have no mortgage to pay back, we have no set payments. We only pay tax on what we owe. This option forced us to have a co-signer and we had to put a big chunk of cash down. But again we are mortgage free and we now have a line of credit that we can use for the rest of our lives.

That is a short and sweet version of what happened, now the fun begins!

Cass & Gen

 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 745
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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This 'line of credit' angle sounds really interesting.

Is there anything more you can tell us about it?

Also, did you have the 3 years of farming taxes to qualify for farm loans, or is this young farmer thing exempt from that?
 
Regan Dixon
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Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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I can't tell you specifically where to get a property that you'd like, but what I did was move somewhere that's basically a ghost town, having outlived its original purpose.  Land is fairly cheap.  I found a property with rural zoning, a year-round potable creek flowing through, with a house and outbuildings, on the grid, with a southern exposure, partly cleared and party wooded.  Not great soil, unfortunately.  The downside (?) is that the local economy is pretty stagnant.  I pick up odds-and-sods jobs in order to pay for things that need paid for.  This leaves me lots of time to spend on developing the property.  Maybe you can find an area that's economically depressed, with good real estate deals that often occur in such situations.
 
Cass Hazel
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Location: Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada (Zone 3)
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The young farmers loan did not require previous farming information. We did however need proof of assets, i.e. something the bank could seize if we defaulted. This is true of any loan, mortgage or line of credit. We did need to write up a very basic business plan describing how we would add value to the agricultural land, things such as fixing fences, raising animals, etc... This loan is offered in Canada which is where we reside.

The line of credit we took out covers 3/4 of the cost of our land. We put the other 1/4 down in cash. Our co-signer had a very good credit rating which bought us a very good interest rate: prime plus 1.

So our balance owing (times) 3.5% = the amount of interest we owe for the year. The account basically is in the negative. My partner and I put $1000 on the line of credit each month.  Every time we add to it, the negative decreases and the positive increases. So after putting our first $1000 into the account. We had $1000 (minus the monthly interest rate) ready to spend in the account. When we have payed down $10,000 we will have $10,000 available to spend. Every time we decrease the amount we owe we also decrease the amount of interest we owe. That is the best part about a line of credit. If my line of credit gives me $50,000 and I have maxed out this amount then I owe interest on $50,000. If I then deposit $5000 into the line of credit I would then owe interest on $45,000 and I would have $5000 to spend (Minus the bit of interest that has been scooped off).

I hope that makes sense, it is very simplified and I may have beaten the obvious to death.
 
Cass Hazel
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Location: Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada (Zone 3)
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I forgot a very important point! Where ever you look for land: check the bylaws!! These tricky laws can smash your hopes and dreams real fast. Make sure that you can build whatever you want, however you want, where ever you want. Make sure you can have animals, make sure you can live off grid. Check for minimal or maximum building sizes. Talk to people in the area and see if they have had any trouble with the local legislatures.
 
Cass Hazel
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Location: Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada (Zone 3)
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One more thing! In our area and circumstances, we noticed that smaller plots of land tended to be zoned differently and cost a lot more. This is because they had buildings, utilities or were within close proximity to the city. Our land cost half as much as some 20 acre plots we looked at. Venturing farther from "civilisation" and choosing raw land that is heavily wooded should yield cheaper results. Anything that is open or cleared will cost more because of its agricultural value. Try searching for: "Recreational land" "Hunting land"

 
Peter Ellis
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I'm pretty much at the opposite end of the story from most so far.  I'm 60 and my wife and I have bought our land with part of my retirement savings, so effectively I've worked all my life to get to this point.  We researched, we looked at tax maps and wetlands maps, zoning maps, checked listings for superfund sites, even reviewed court records (when a prior owner had criminal EPA violations we walked way from that one) contacted multiple realtors, watched Zillow (and learned how amazingly unreliable it can be).  We spent at least two years in our search process.  For us the process was complicated by the fact that we were living in New Jersey and looking for land in Michigan, 6-700 miles away.

We also put loads of research into figuring out what we wanted to do on our land and our options for how to achieve those goals. We made sure we had flexibility, that our approach could adapt to the land, rather than dictating what the land had to be. And now, we're in contract for the sale of our New Jersey house and looking to make the move to the Michigan property in - well - the middle of February (genius scheduling!).



One of the things that doesn't get enough consideration is the idea that you don't necessarily have to OWN the land.  There are lease arrangements, there are situations like Joseph Lofthouse describes.
 
Eddie Conna
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I've had good luck finding real estate by doing a couple of key things:

Find the property that no one wants. 

House is thrashed.  Most people either don't want to, or simply cannot fix things... so the thrashed houses have been great for me. 

Yards full of JUNK have been another thing I look FOR.  Why/  Because all that junk deters 95% of all buyers, and drives the price down as an added bonus.

Do your homework:

I've also found that county officials have, in the overzealous beurocratic ways, driven off potential buyers and driven the price of property down.  The cottage I currently live in, with almost 3 acres to boot, had fallen out of escrow over a DOZEN times.  The price dropped each and every time, and I picked the place up for 1/6th of the original asking price.  Why?  Because county officials REPEATEDLY LIED to potential buyers claiming "nothing was permitted and everything had to be bulldozed to the ground".  Now, there WERE unpermitted structures that DID need to go, but the original cottage from 1936 was permitted, and as such, they could NOT force me to tear it down.  officials didn't want to deal with it, so they simply told everyone "nothing is permitted there".  I was the ONLY person who bothered to double check their claims. 

When they persisted with their lies, I reminded them that they had committed fraud by lying, and since multiple officials had done it together, it was technically a conspiracy.  Immediately their demeanor changed.  But their lies had scared off MANY potential buyers.

Two years ago, a friend of mine took me to see a house in a rural part of Los Angeles county.  The place was thrashed, but half the house was livable.  Trash everywhere inside and out.  But a solid house that could easily be fixed.  Again, officials had told other buyers false information.  The house had sold during the peak for almost $500K.  In the current market, it would have been worth around $250K.  He asked me what I thought.  My reply was "depends on what you can get it for"  he said, "I think i can get it for 50" 

I asked, "50 thousand?"  He said "yes".  I replied, "you're an idiot if you don't buy this place for $50K, and if you don't want it, let me know because I will buy it the second you pass."  He bought it, put less than $20K into it, and has a nice house on 5 acres that's now worth 3 to 4 times what he paid for it 2 years ago. 

Point is, don't limit yourselves on what you will consider.  Someone in this thread said they "wouldn't want anything with any buildings on it".  I disagree with that position, for numerous reasons.  At minimum, old buildings can be used for firewood.  Often though, there are a LOT of things that can be easily salvaged from an old building, including useable lumber.  Lastly, a permit to REHAB even a wreck of a building will often be a fraction of what it costs to build something new from scratch.  In some counties, permit fees on a rehab are 1/10 of what a new permit is.  So often, rehab is better than building from scratch.  Even if there are NO permits in your area, an old building can often be repurposed into something new.  A friend of mine took a dilapidated house on his property, ripped the floors out, (it was a raised foundation) and made it into a barn for his horses and chickens.  

Whoever you go, LEARN as much about a place as you can.  DO NOT take ANYONE'S word for ANYTHING.  Even if an official tells you "X" is wrong with this property, LOOK IT UP yourself.  Same for when people tell you "oh, this is what's great about this property..."  I've seen more people buy land that was unbuildable for one reason or another, simply because they took someone's word and/or didn't do their homework.  Every municipality has different codes, some easier than others, and some that make it cost restrictive, if not impossible to build. 

Good luck!







 
Devin Lavign
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You said your sick of rain and clouds, have you considered moving inland?

Eastern WA has some great permie folks living there. I just bought 40 acres over in the Okanogan. A big part of what started me looking there was land prices are dramatically cheaper. But it is much warmer and more sun on the other side of the Cascades. Still lots of lakes and rivers to have fun on water.
Check it out on http://www.desertlakerealty.com/

I had been frequenting that site for over 10 yrs before I bought land. But doing so kept me fairly knowledgeable about what was generally available and at what prices. I was lucky and after 20 yrs of dreaming was finally able to buy land by using my grandfather's inheritance. If not for that I would not have been able to buy land yet either.

#1 way to afford land, is more rural you get less it tend to cost. People tend to want to live close to town, so further out you go less the sellers can ask for land and get buyers.
#2 raw land is always going to be cheaper, as soon as anything is built on land it jacks the price up. Note that as soon as you build something on land it will raise the tax prices too.
#3 it is next to impossible to bank finance raw land. While land with something on it might be more expensive, you might be able to get a loan on property with a cabin or barn while you wont be able to if there is nothing on it
#4 splitting the cost, the way a lot of folks get land is by having help from friends or family. Either by spiting the cost with friends, or having family give low cost loans. The friends one can be tricky and cause problems down the road as people tend to diverge eventually and want to take things different directions.
#5 pure and simple luck, getting an inheritance or other wind fall chunk of money to let them start
#6 the tough one, hard work and saving to afford land early
 
Casie Becker
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Getting the house I have is more due to my mother's skill than my own. I was in an apartment and slowly building savings with the thought that one day far down the line I would be paying for a small house and property with cash. Life happened, and I got custody of my two nieces. Apartment living is all well and good for a single woman in the city, but it's no way to raise growing children. They need freedom to make some noise and a yard to run in. My mother (who has realtor training) starting taking me to local house listings that I could afford the payment for. It was looking like I was going to make some compromises to get a property that was 'good enough'. Then she saw the listing for this house. They included a picture, but listed the wrong address. She'd seen this house on the market before and recognized it so was able to actually locate the physical house. It was a HUDD foreclosure incompletely remodeled with a few repairs needed and outside my budget. One side of the house has a huge old tree almost against the foundation, and the other side has obvious evidence of foundation work. Despite all that, it had a large yard (1/2 acre is great in a city) lot's of square footage, new roof, and large shed, in a fantastic school zone from elementary to high school and in well established family neighborhood. She asked me to come look at it, and I agreed that if felt right. Despite being well below the listing price we submitted an offer. HUDD declined it, if they can't meet a certain minimum sell they are legally required to sell the home to a charity for one dollar. Our first offer was too low. We made arrangements for inspections to confirm the house was structurally sound and submitted another offer, which was accepted.

In the end we got the house for about half the price of comparable properties in the area (and less than ten dollars of over the minimum that could be legally accepted by HUDD) because there was the illusion of foundation problems. It's very close to limestone quarry, built directly on bed rock. When we had the structural engineer come out he said one corner of the house was five inches higher than it should have been. This was the side where the garage had been converted into a second living area. Rather than building a subfloor, they called out a foundation company who raised that corner of the house to make it level. Because of that one error everyone else (who could find the house under the wrong address) was afraid to take a risk on this house. There's no way I could have afforded this house otherwise. I am still blown away every time I think about the fact that this is mine. I even like the fact that it needed some serious repairs. I know that even though I'm not mechanically adept, I've improved the property  more than I've hurt it.
 
Eddie Conna
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
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Casie Becker wrote:Getting the house I have is more due to my mother's skill than my own. I was in an apartment and slowly building savings with the thought that one day far down the line I would be paying for a small house and property with cash. Life happened, and I got custody of my two nieces. Apartment living is all well and good for a single woman in the city, but it's no way to raise growing children. They need freedom to make some noise and a yard to run in. My mother (who has realtor training) starting taking me to local house listings that I could afford the payment for. It was looking like I was going to make some compromises to get a property that was 'good enough'. Then she saw the listing for this house. They included a picture, but listed the wrong address. She'd seen this house on the market before and recognized it so was able to actually locate the physical house. It was a HUDD foreclosure incompletely remodeled with a few repairs needed and outside my budget. One side of the house has a huge old tree almost against the foundation, and the other side has obvious evidence of foundation work. Despite all that, it had a large yard (1/2 acre is great in a city) lot's of square footage, new roof, and large shed, in a fantastic school zone from elementary to high school and in well established family neighborhood. She asked me to come look at it, and I agreed that if felt right. Despite being well below the listing price we submitted an offer. HUDD declined it, if they can't meet a certain minimum sell they are legally required to sell the home to a charity for one dollar. Our first offer was too low. We made arrangements for inspections to confirm the house was structurally sound and submitted another offer, which was accepted.

In the end we got the house for about half the price of comparable properties in the area (and less than ten dollars of over the minimum that could be legally accepted by HUDD) because there was the illusion of foundation problems. It's very close to limestone quarry, built directly on bed rock. When we had the structural engineer come out he said one corner of the house was five inches higher than it should have been. This was the side where the garage had been converted into a second living area. Rather than building a subfloor, they called out a foundation company who raised that corner of the house to make it level. Because of that one error everyone else (who could find the house under the wrong address) was afraid to take a risk on this house. There's no way I could have afforded this house otherwise. I am still blown away every time I think about the fact that this is mine. I even like the fact that it needed some serious repairs. I know that even though I'm not mechanically adept, I've improved the property  more than I've hurt it.


And that folks, is how you do it!

Congrats!

 
Dylan Gillies
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Devin, yea I have considered east of the cascades. If I found a nice piece with water I'd definitely consider. When did you find your land? Any pics?
 
Travis Johnson
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I am a next-generational farmer; 9th to be exact, this farm having started in 1746. Unlike the previous generations however, things change, and so we were the first to actually BUY the family farm and not inherit it. I am so glad we did! It allowed my parents some money for retirement, and made the transition from one generation to another a lot smoother.

But you have to keep in mind that I am not like many of you who got to search, research, dream and try to hunt down the perfect place to settle down. That was established before I was born. This farm: for better or worse, is what I would have. Now it is up to me to change it and morph it into something better then when I got it, and hopefully...if I properly manage it, will justify the cost of buying more land. But I am not there yet. Before I even look for more, ethically I think I need to properly care for every acre I am entrusted with now and I got some under-utilized areas that need addressing first!

Best wishes in your search in any case, and take a step back once and awhile and realize there is pleasure in just finding that perfect spot.
 
Dylan Gillies
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Travis, that's  pretty awesome.It seems like A lot of people with family farms have no interest in it.. your ancestors are proud!

How big and where is it? Type of climate and stuff? What's the deets?!
 
Devin Lavign
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Dylan Gillies wrote:Devin, yea I have considered east of the cascades. If I found a nice piece with water I'd definitely consider. When did you find your land? Any pics?




My place is 40 acres with a 600ft pond in the center. I closed on the property summer solstice of 2016. I have an on going thread you can check out with more pics and some videos https://permies.com/t/56342/Moving-Okanogan-homestead-land-pics
 
Daniel Schmidt
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Location: Jacksonville, FL
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I got my acre for pretty cheap on landandfarm.com earlier this year. I had been looking around for a while and saw most places with smaller parcels of land were in deed restricted communities. I use the term communities loosely, as it seems many people bought land decades back with the intention of striking it rich making a subdivision, and still have most or all of the plots unsold. Some of the laws are pretty outrageous too. I was shocked when I learned that some of the more relaxed laws were right here in Florida!

I had intended on buying more land for more money at a cheaper price per acre, but I couldn't pass this up. It is a 1 1/2 hour drive south of where I live currently and has a significant amount of slope to the land as far as it goes in Florida. I guess the prior owner bought it before the economic downturn last decade and never paid the taxes, so he ended up paying more in taxes than I paid him for the land. I had seen it sitting for a while and I finally called after it had been up for 180 days. I was told the price had dropped $400 that morning, so I immediately got a ride out there to make sure I wasn't buying a swamp. It turned out to have a ton of benefits and all the lots around me are wooded and unbuilt like mine. I called back and told the real estate agent that it was sold!

Even though it is small, I didn't spend all of my money. The point made above about moving in with family and saving up is a good one. If that isn't an option, then maybe starting small and getting/building a tiny house with solar panels can reduce your monthly bills so you can expand to new land down the road. That's my plan. I told a bunch of people a few years ago that I would get land in a few years and many people were interested, but no one else followed through. I'm sure they didn't believe me. Many people partied and did lots of fun things and enjoyed themselves, but I managed to make it happen. There were many, many months of sitting at home with the internet as my only entertainment, and a great deal of that was researching and learning.

The hardest thing for me was finding a surveyor. For some reason most of them were lazy and were used to land that was flat and cleared. My land was 'too far away', less than an hour from them. No one wanted to do the job at any price. I offered some of them double the money and they turned me down. I think I called 36 different surveyors before finally getting someone to agree, and it sounded like he regretted it afterwards. There were a bunch of ticks when I walked the property after he did the survey, so I can imagine it wasn't a fun day for him and his helper. He sent his paperwork to the title company and I got my land paid for in full.

Definitely check the local laws in the areas that you are looking. I had narrowed my search to a few counties in Florida that had laws I could live with. I specifically want to get land in Putnam county because of the laws and proximity to my current place and family. Once I finally saw the piece of land I wanted, I didn't have to think twice because I knew what I was getting into in that area.

I wish I had known years ago that I could get land so cheap and not terribly far from civilization. Fortunately I was already working construction and spent around half of my expendable income on tools for several years. If you don't have a lot of tools and knowledge, then you may want to look into a maker space/hacker space, charitable work to learn from like Habitat for Humanity or similar, or maybe find a farm or homestead that you can donate time in exchange for learning. You don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money to learn (plus you are saving for land), but showing up is more than half the battle.
 
Nicole Alderman
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In my area (Puget Sound foothills), raw land is often MORE expensive than a land with a beat up house or manufactured home. Ours is 5 acres, $200,000, 1,000 square foot manufactured with 500sqft attached garage (soon to be living room). If we were to buy raw land (we wanted to), 1-5 acres would cost $130,000-250,000... and you still have to pay for septic, phone, electric, well/water, driveway.

As for how we afforded it, we lived in a cheap rental, saved all my income (~$18,000/year), and had a gift of $16,000 from my mother in law. Without that gift, we would have had to delay buying a house and having kids for another year. We put 21% down, so our mortgage is $723/month.

It would have been great if we could have bought the land in full, but then we couldn't live by our family, or we would have had to have saved money for even longer. My husband still works and I stay home and manage our homestead, 3 year old and newborn.
 
Niele da Kine
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You might see if there's tax auctions near where you're looking for land.  Around here about twice a year there's land auctions where land can sometimes go for a fraction of the listed rates.  A friend of mine just picked up a half acre raw land in Hawaii for $6,100.  At this particular auction, you have to be there in person and pay cash on the spot.  No going to the bank, either a certified check or cash.  If you can't pay, it immediately is auctioned off again.

It has a paved road in front of his lot, there's grid electricity available if he wants it, although I don't know if he's going to go grid or off grid.  Water is via rainfall and catchment which is common on this island.  There's enough rainfall there that he probably won't ever have to worry about enough water.

It's wooded, but not much actual soil since it's mostly leaf litter over lava rock.  He's planning on growing orchids on the tree ferns and vegetables in raised bed gardens.  A small house and a big greenhouse I think are his current plans, we will see how they change as he goes along.  At the moment he's clearing a driveway and a place for the shed.  Since the land is already paid for and the taxes are very low each year, all of his extra income now can go towards developing the land.

From what I've noticed, Zillow may not be the best real estate website.  You could also try Trulia and RedFin although for our specific area, the local MLS listing had some listings that didn't show up on any of the big real estate websites.
 
Travis Johnson
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One thing to note too Dylan, and one I hesitate to mention because I try and keep my posts positive and not negative in nature, but in this case it is an out and out scam and so I will post it so you and others are aware before entering into a trap.

That trap here in Maine anyway, is something called Farmer Links where prospective farmers try and find land from farmers who are retiring. On the surface it sounds great, but it is a pretty big scam. First it was the brain child of a politician which says enough. The second problem is, that for every one LOOKING for land, they outnumber the Farmers looking to retire from farming, by about 10 to 1. So what happens is, prospective farmers PAY to be put on this list every year, and yet they linger on that list because there is not enough land available. It ends up being a money making scheme.

But it gets worse.

They call it Forever Farms, but to get that the selling Farmer has to sell their farm rights to the middle man...Farm Link and Forever Farm, and there is a little known clause that says they can sell parts of the farm off to allow income to the Forever farm entity. So what happens is, that farm can potentially be sold into house lots...not all of it granted, but that is NOT what the selling farmers envisioned. As I said it is pretty much a scam.

I was at  meeting of theirs one time and they tried to pitch this to people looking to get into farming and I asked some pretty tough questions to Farm Links and Forever Farm's attorney...which says a lot to. Politicians and attorneys working together should make anyone run. Needless to say I was not very well liked. I use a bank that specializes in farming here and the manager there told me they had to cut ties with them because they were pushing for farmers to sign up for this Forever Farm silliness too much. It was kind of nice to hear because it reiterated that I was not the only one who saw through their scheme.
 
Travis Johnson
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Dylan Gillies wrote:Travis, that's  pretty awesome.It seems like A lot of people with family farms have no interest in it.. your ancestors are proud!


Well that is one way to put it, I just tell people we were too stupid to leave this rock infested, blizzard wrenched state to move west when we could have! (Joking)

I can also see why you, as well as others might think a lot of families have no interest in farming, but that has not been my experience at all. There is something about growing food...though this transcends all manner of ways to do that...and in every family, someone wants to farm. But here is the thing; they are often not vocal about it until after the family farm has been sold off, and a lot of times it is not the son or daughter of the proceeding farmer that wants it. It may even skip a generation and the love of farming goes to the Grandson, but it could also be a cousin, or a nephew or niece, etc. But...if a family looks hard enough, there is someone in the family who wants to farm.

And of course it may not be in the same way as what was previously done. My father is outright incensed that I am taking the farm from pretty much being 3/4 woodlot to being a functioning sheep farm again and converting forest into tillable land. It is not what he wants, but I am convinced that it is the best direction to take the farm.

And finally, one other thing I noticed about next-generational transfers is; fair is not always equal. What I mean is, if say the younger son wants to farm, and he always worked about the farm, it is perfectly fair to allow him to have the farm to continue farming, while the oldest son and daughter get a few acres so they can build their homes, but enjoy their careers in town. In that way, giving each of the three siblings 100 acres apeice of a 300 acre farm would not be fair. It would be equal, but not fair. And as stated before, it does not have to be a son, it can be a cousin, grandson and even great-granddaughter. Next-generation farms do not have to be a next-in-line sort of mentality, nor a male-only thing. I have four daughters and no son...yet one is really interested in farming. Will she be the 10th generation? ?
 
James Whitelaw
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This is probably a good thread to most our story. We are fortunate to have inherited the old family farm that was never farmed by the family since it was purchased in 1905. Kept as a summer place little interest was given to the land as my parents split, the area in the Lower Adirondacks has retained some of its agricultural nature despite becoming somewhat of a bedroom community for Albany, a sub 1 hour commute.  We took over paying the taxes from my late Mother 20 years ago, justifying it by spending every vacation these pets and all, estimating the cost of 4 weeks a year renting a house on Maui would run about the same. Technically, the house and land was not part of the estate as my mom simply put us on the deed in exchange for paying off considerable back taxes and also allowing us to take over her finances. She and we got to enjoy the place a few weeks a year (and live dept free) until her death.

The place was last farmed in the 60's and is on the USDA map is silty/sandy; The Oakville series consists of very deep, excessively drained soils formed in sandy eolian deposits on dunes and beach ridges on outwash plains, lake plains, and moraines. Slope ranges from 0 to 60 percent. Mean annual precipitation is about 864 mm (34 inches), and mean annual temperature is about 10.0 degrees C (50 degrees F). The land is partially flat or slightly sloping with the exception of two ravines bisecting the 80 acres that contain year around stream.  The streams in the area exists as a result of numerous weeps (four of which I've located on the property) that appear to indicate the water table as being around 25 foot below grade which is also the depth of the point on the shallow well for the 18900's house.  As the land is left from when the ancient glacial Lake Albany, the sand under the topsoil is up to 50 foot deep.  While the land is largely wooded, you can clearly make out the ancient sand dunes created before the flora and fauna took over.  Other than foundation stones on the house and left over from the old, collapsed barn, there are no stones anywhere on the 80 acres.

We have been studying farming techniques in general and more specifically Permiculture, organic farming and sustainability.  Sale of selectively harvested hardwood saw logs and pine allowed us to get 6 overgrown acres that encompassed the historic ag field recleared. Our plan is to try out different things and see what works.  Final preparation of the cleared field to plant nitrogen fixing cover crops got delayed, I thought I had an agreement with a nearby farmer to rake, disk & plant the field in exchange for letting him farm it for a few years, but his insistence of using "his RoundUp" on the corn he would plant put the kabosh on that. Instead I am renting a skid steer with a power harrow rake to finish the field and will figure a way to get the legumes, etc put down. I've taken advantage of delay to study what weeds are emerging and doing some manual control, but generally letting things take their course for now. Because the land is so permeable water never stands anywhere for long. As a youngster I always thought the 50 foot ravine on the far corner was carved by the small stream that runs through it, until I realized that would be impossible and discovered the areas terrain was created by the great outwash from the prehistoric lake forming the ravines in the area.

About 5 acres of the property historically has consisted on vernal forest pools of the grey leaf variety. They have been mostly dry the last few years, but the persistent drought in the area has taken its tooll. We were careful to make sure the timber foresters we used, very professional and well equipped, avoided any sensitive areas.

The old late 1800's house still has no heating system, having been kept as a summer place for 110 years. Installing heating and addressing as best as can be managed affordably the lack of insulation and some foundation issues takes first priority. We want to keep the original windows which complicates the project further, but we may have found a compromise in using good high quality hanging storm windows.  Research indicates the house had a fire once, but we are unable date the event other than a story of a great Aunt who had a premonition that there had been a fire, but no one was hurt.  You can see the differences in the brick on the peak of the structure and singeing on the attic beams.

Looking forward to sharing ideas and getting advice on this forum!

Thanks, Jim

 
Norma Guy
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To find affordable land, we had to look in places that were previously way outside our comfort zone, for proximity to family, and for climate and growing season.  However, it's massive and has water running through it.  There's a phenomenon called choice-supportive bias that may have affected me since, but when I gaze at the map I feel really great about just having a piece of land I can't get kicked off of, whether or not things go to plan.  Oh, I also realize hardly anything ever goes to plan, don't worry

We searched for years and nothing in the most desirable area came up, or properties slipped through our fingers if we hemmed and hawed too long.  The longer time went on and the land became even more desirable it slipped farther and farther out of our price range.  We realized our want list was too long for the short amount of funds we had to cover it, and felt like we needed to jump on the next awesome thing that came along before it disappeared.  We just weren't willing to let another one go and watch the cycle of unaffordability continue to shrink our dreams.

The boxes we were able to tick with this one include the large size, mix of terrain features with flat areas to build and grow food, protected by hills, already some clearings, flowing water and ponds, isolated regionally but close to a nice little town, and unorganized township where building permits are not required.  Downside is it's pretty far from our current home (the place where I have a job that makes the money to fund my future home), it's farther than some people might like who I hoped would join us, the growing season is short and winter likely nasty, and some major work to be done on the entrance road in order to start building, etc.  It feels like my dream has finally floated within reach, and eventually would like to share this land.

I started this journey looking for intentional communities and had an unfortunately lackluster experience with a group that didn't gel for many reasons.  But now there's more than enough land to share, if the right people can get it together.

I wish we had been fortunate enough to inherit family land but in the 50s everyone forgot that land meant independence, not the good-paying factory jobs.  They traded it for suburban mortgage slavery, and left us with nothing.
 
Dylan Gillies
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Norma, I wish I knew the areas what you were talking about! An over view of aspects like climate, hardiness zone, types of vegetation...the small details ya know
 
James Whitelaw
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For locating acreage I've found http://www.landwatch.com/ highly useful. You can narrow down search to specific towns and sort by price or size, no residence, etc.  Zillow or Trulia of course can be used to find recent sales or listed properties, but often acreage is not listed for some reason.  Zillow gets satellite imagery from Google, though it seems to be on older version, or lags behind the Google products.

Two large lots on either side of me (about 67 and 75 acres respectively) never showed up on Zillow, yet I know one sold because someone cleared an acre and built a house. I noticed the house in the latest satellite view in Google Maps and Google Earth Pro (downloadable here). I've found Google Earth Pro very handy, though the functionality varies quite a bit between PC & Mac, can be very useful for zooming in on areas to get to know them.  The had lot lines demarcating property boundaries when the Pro version first became free, but sadly that was removed for some reason over a year ago.  You can still correlate lot lines between the Zillow overlay against the Google Earth app as well as overlay the satellite image with a variety of KML files such as topographic views.

 
James Whitelaw
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The experience of a young couple I know near by to us may be useful. I came across them while researching organic farms and coops in our area of the Lower Adirondacks and was excited to see their small acreage a few miles away had the exact same soil type as ours! I was impressed that they had an active CSA.  When I talked to them at the farmers market I was surprised to find they had moved farther north and the land they were farming was rented and they lived elsewhere. They transitioned to the new property that they had purchased, keeping all their customers as far as I can tell.

So, an example where rented acreage was used to eventually purchase land. I don't know their specifics as far as finances, etc. though it seems they work very very hard at what they do and appear to do it full time.
 
Robert Bizzarro
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Go north young man. Alaska is the place to be.   

I found 360 acre of agricultural land for $15,400 some 15 years ago. I just had to clear 16 acres, submit a farm plan and build a house.  That may have been the last one of that size for that price in country, but there are others. I bought it with my brother. Unfortunately we had to sell when my sister in-law got cancer and my brother could no longer pay for her health-care.

BUT!!

Check the State of Alaska Natural Resources page. The neighbor made his living growing potato's on 640 acres that he got for nothing back in the 80s. The old guy just had to hire a young kid about 26 or so. The hire on then took over for him. He wanted to retire being in his 70's now. There are still lots of opportunities up here for young folk that can work hard.

IMO the Northwest is full and for that reason land is crazy, spendy.  You might want to think about expanding your view. I know Idaho also has some affordable land.

I'm heading back to Maine myself. Got about 65 acres on a little lake back there. I'm getting a bit long in the tooth for Alaska winters anymore. However, I came up here when I was in my early 20's and I have had a life time full of adventures. It's still wild and free........ sort a. Not like it was back in the 70's and 80s, but a man can still get lost up here and walk for months never ever to see another soul.

Good luck I hope you find your place.
 
David Livingston
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You could alway rent ,I know many people look down upon the idea but if you are short of funds it may be the best way to get started.
I rent I put very little money into the land mainly sweat my LL is estatic . He has a property that previous tenants made a mess of , that is gradually is being restored to something that looks like it's former glory . He has recently offered me 5 extra acres at no extra cost
He likes what I do eg cut the lawn and make pastures ( collect grass for mulch and hay like wise ) tidy the trees and hedges ( firewood and wood chips ) plant plant trees ( fruit trees grafted quince and plum ) improve the drainage ( made a swale ) all the time I am gaining
practical experience so that if I ever get my own place I will already have lots of skills and tools
 
Jeremy Butler
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Location: Northern Virginia
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While I have no experience buying land, I read this a while ago and thought it could be a pretty good way to go about doing it.

http://homestead.org/NeilShelton/HowToBuyLand/VeryCheaply.htm
 
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