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Finding and Buying Homestead Land on a Low Budget  RSS feed

 
Skyler Reep
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Hello everyone,

My partner and I have dreamed for years about having our own land for a homestead and small eco-home, and are now trying to bang out the details of how we'll be buying our land in the next year or two. We've precticed self sufficiency once before at an old family cabin before we had to relocate. Right now we're living in another family home and saving every penny we can for our land endeavors. Anyway, while I'm a disabled veteran and eligible for a VA loan, I cannot use it for raw land unless I have construction plans. Not really feasible when we're planning on doing cob or earth bags with a tipi as the interim living quarters.
I do have a stock account that I could borrow against, but I'd really prefer not to dig that hole or get too involved with a bank. We're thinking we'll be able to save at least 5-10k this summer if we're smart about it.

I feel like our best options are either paying outright for an inexpensive lot (a challenge to find it seems), or finding owner financed property. I've checked out landwatch's owner financed section, and there are certainly some great properties in the areas we are looking that are owner financed with 10% down, or 3-5k down. This seems like a great plan, but my momma always taught me to stay away from things that are too good to be true and I have no idea if it's really a safe thing to walk into. It seems like the owner could back out of this with some legal razzle dazzle and we could be out our homestead.
I've also checked out Country Places Inc, which also specializes in owner financed land and offers a military discount with varying interest rates dependent on the down payment. Once again, it seems particularly too good to be true.

The fact that we're looking for something that is both owner financed, and unrestricted really narrows down the options that I have been able to find, so I thought I'd reach out to the community and see if anyone had any tips and advice they might be willing to share with us. We are in our mid-20's and I've never had a penny of debt which seems to make traditional lending approval even more difficult (go figure). My girlfriend has good credit from student loans, but I haven't seen a lot of traditional lending options with less than 40% down payment on raw land, and hell, if I've got 20k to spend on a down payment, I think I'd rather just buy a 20k piece of property.

Thank you all for your wisdom in advance! I'm open to any and all ideas and am really just hoping to get any input I can on our plans, as I don't have any family to reach out to for advice.
Namaste
 
Mike Jay
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Skyler, welcome to Permies! 

What part of the country are you looking at?  Narrowing down your search area can really help you figure things out.  I did a quick search in one of the cheaper parts of my state and came up with this lot to tempt you with... 5 acres for $6,000 in northern WI

If you don't like snow, it may not be the best fit though.  Based on a few searches on Realtor.com it should be pretty doable to get 2-5 acres for under $10K.  If I can find them here, I'm sure there are other extremely rural places of the country with them as well.  Especially in the countryside where regulations are usually more lax.  Do you need to be near a bigger city for a day job?  If so, that will clearly limit your "cheap land" options.

I guess I'd start with figuring out what location specific characteristics you need for your homestead, then see what's available for cash or owner financing.

Some things might be:
4 seasons
Need some snow
Need some desert
Need mountains
Near a city of XX population
Distance you'd be willing to commute if you have a job in that city

Take it from there and enjoy the search!
 
Skyler Reep
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Hey there! Thank you for the response.
We're specifically looking at Carter Co. TN, Yancey Co. NC, and counties around that area (About an hour from Asheville), as well as Grayson Co. VA. We love the mountains, born and raised in Appalachia, and we really like being close to the AT.
I'll definitely check out realtor.com!
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 625
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I've also had good luck with Zillow.com as well.  Good luck!!
 
Devin Lavign
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Location: Pac Northwest
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Skyler if you have such a narrow area as a few counties in mind then I would highly suggest rather than realtors looking for by owner sale properties.

This can take a lot of legwork, but you will get the most bang for your buck this way. Some of the best property is sold exclusively by the owners with it never being seen by realtors or a website.

It would take you visiting the areas your looking in and start talking to people, picking up local newspapers to search the classifieds, looking for ads on bulletin boards, and the "for sale by owner" signs on the roads.

This actually can be good as you will start getting to know people in the area, and you can start assessing if the community there is in sync with your own priorities. Visit festivals and community events in the areas. Get an idea of what people are like and if there is something you might not like about the people of an area. Even the perfect piece of land can become a nightmare if the community it is in has people you don't get along with.

I would also highly suggest you make a wish list for your ideal property. With 3 columns.

1st column being absolute essentials. If it doesn't have these things then it isn't right.
2nd column being wanted but you could get by without it.
3rd column being things that are absolute deal breakers.

The reason for this is you can reference this list to remind yourself of these important things when figuring out if a property is right. In the process of looking you might easily get frustrated and opt to settle just to get something after the 30th property visit. Only to realize later you should not have done it because it lacked something or had some issue you don't want to deal with. It is easy to get worn down but a list stays constant for you to remind yourself the priorities. Though you might have to adjust your expectations as you get further along, realizing there just isn't property in your price range for X or Y to be included.

Hope this helps.
 
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