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Katy9532
Jan. 6, 2009, 12:27 PM
So I'm finally going to start looking for my own little farm. I have a good idea of what I want.

What I was wondering from all of of you that have bought property before is: if "you knew then what you know now" what would you tell yourself about the buying experience?

I know I learn A LOT while buying my first home. I would love any advice you all may have.

Bluey
Jan. 6, 2009, 01:13 PM
I would say if you can, use a certified real estate contract attorney to go over all before you sign any papers of any kind anyone shoves under you, bar none.

When you find what you want, do a title search and get title insurance anyway.

Have the parcel surveyed on your penny and see that the lines and corners are well maked, even if it was just done.
Be sure all is recorded properly in the courthouse.

Check on the taxes that place has been paying and what exclusions it may have that you may not get and that the taxes all have been paid regularly.

poltroon
Jan. 6, 2009, 02:08 PM
There is a book called "Finding and Buying your place in the Country" that is quite good. See if you can find a copy.

Make sure you have water.

Pay attention to what plants are growing on the place. It will tell you a lot about the microclimate.

Blue Aurora
Jan. 6, 2009, 02:40 PM
Much of my property is wooded. I wish I had known how time consuming and expensive it would be to clear even scrub trees.

Good luck with your search!

equusvilla
Jan. 6, 2009, 03:46 PM
Umm - if you build a home attached to your barn...you can't get a normal mortgage. We had a professional mortgage broker tell us we could...we got a construction loan - built the structure and then the mortgage broker would not return our calls (may he rot in he//) We ended up having to deal with one of those balloon loans for a few years!

poltroon
Jan. 6, 2009, 05:21 PM
Make sure you check the zoning yourself. Don't rely on the realtor's word for it or assume that because you see horses on the property today that you can have horses there, especially a boarding operation.

Lincoln
Jan. 6, 2009, 05:40 PM
Lots of great advice here - my two cents from the perspective of someone who advises on big horse farm transactions... underscore hiring a good attorney who understands farm deals (not just a run of the mill conveyancing attorney). Often good Trust and Estate attorneys can give you a recommendation. Other details - a Phase I environmental - most farms, especially the older ones, tend to have farm dumps and many had underground fuel/oil storage tanks. Farmers tend to go for convenience rather than the letter of the law when it comes to those kinds of things so better to know in advance than inherit a liability. Title - absolutely - rural properties often have flaws in title so good to look carefully in advance. Also, having someone on your team that can walk you through in advance some of the issues that inevitably come up as you think about managing horses on a place - there are terrific builders/farm construction experts out there that can help you. Issues like getting the water tested (not just for the house, but if there is a separate well for the barn), clearing costs (thank you blue Aurora) groundwater - how wet are those fields, anyway? (I'm thinking of Ocala where those lovely green fields can turn out to be darn swampy). Line up your financing in advance so that you are not surprised. Financing in the current environment, as others have noted, is tricky, so not having bad surprises is key.

and try to enjoy the hunt.
Hope this helps. Good luck -

MistyBlue
Jan. 6, 2009, 05:44 PM
*check zoning yourself on any farm you're interesting in purchasing. In EVERY written offer make sure there is an addendum added that the sale is contingent upon the purchaser being able to keep ____ (however many) horses on that property. Nothing sucks worse than after closing finding you you cannnot keep horses on your new farm. Before offering go to the town hall clerk's office and ask for a copy of the equine/livestock keeping rules for that town. Double check with zoning that the specific property meets the requirements, that horses already there aren't grandfathered in, that any and all barns and feicing meet both zoning and permit requirements and if no buildings or fencing there yet get the specs for adding them to make sure they can go in where you want/need them to.

*Check water out...have inspection done on well itself, well pump, pressure and have the water tested. Drinking bottled water is okay for humans, damned expensive with horses.

*Drainage, drainage, drainage. Go recheck the property again during heavy rain or directly after heavy rains and see where the water pools and how it runs. Nobody wants to buy a mud pit...and if it is a mudpit in most of the area then adding drainage can be very pricey in the long run.

*Walk the neighborhood and any surrounding woods. Check the neighborhood after school hours, preferrably between 3-5 pm or so. Then you get a better idea of who lives there and what they may be like as neighbors...and if there is anyone in the neighborhood who has hobbies like blowing up metal drum with M80s or something else that might drive you bonkers. Don't be bashful about introducing yourself to neighbors and asking something like, "I'm looking at _____ house over there and wanted to ask what the area is like." Neighbors will happily dish on one another...and they can be valuable sources of info on the property you're interested in. "Oh THAT house? That guy put up his barn without a permit/it floods every year/he's got to move fast due to divorce/job/running from the mafia." (that last one helps your bargaining power :winkgrin: ) I've had buyers do that in the past and done it myself and heard all sorts of interesting stuff. "Oh he buried a bunch of cans of oil in the back woods!" was one of them...:eek: No wonder that well water smelled funky.

*Do not compromise on land amount or type. Clearing land is expensive and time consuming, trying to wedge too much on a postage stamp never works out well. As long as the house is structurally sound and not needing too much cosmetic...focus on the land first. And any fencing that's already there. Replacing a lot of fencing is very expensive. Around here a horse property with *good* fencing raises the value a lot more than extras in the house will. I can put in granite countertops for $2500...to replace 5 acres of fence with decent stuff is more than twice that cost.

*Make a list of MUST haves, then a list of wants, and finally a list of "can't live withs" Grade properties by how they fit the first and last lists...then the "wants" list can be considered.

*Price out barns and fencing for that area before you go looking...that way you can double your properties seen by adding in homes with acreage and no barn/fencing too. Only make sure those houses are priced so that you can afford to add the fence and barn.

*Look for properties that fit what you want to do with horses. If it's showing, near enough to showgrounds. If it's trail riding, near or right on trails. If you like to school in the ring often, make sure it has a well draining one with decent footing or a flat area you can put one in. 9and price getting a ring put in, they can be very expensive too)

*Storage and driveways are very important. You need a solid wide driveway to be able to get trailers in and out, hay deliveries need to get near the barn/hay storage, the farrier and vet will want to park next to the barn, etc. Also storage...garages and extra outbuildings are always welcome. Somewhere to store extra hay/bedding, somewhere to park a tractor if you need one, somewhere to park the farm truck when not in use, etc. You can never have too much storage area.

*Field layout...do you need to add run ins? Can you fence off the barn area for easy turnout? Is there a sacrifice paddock area? Do you need cross fencing to rotate fields?

poltroon
Jan. 6, 2009, 06:50 PM
If it doesn't have a house on it already, ask long and hard why not. There's always a reason that a house was built somewhere else. Maybe it was part of a huge parcel, and so there were better sites in other spots, and is recently subdivided. Maybe it was subdivided 20 years ago, and the land doesn't perc or no well has been drilled. Maybe it turns into a swamp or is otherwise inaccessible in winter.

CanterQueen
Jan. 6, 2009, 07:05 PM
Land out here is expensive and small. 5 acres with a house and barn can easily cost $1Million. We are just too close to Washington, DC.

I looked for good pastures, adequate fencing, decent home and access to trails. It took me longer than a year to find my current home. Even after purchasing we found a dozen problems with the place -- some rather expensive to fix.

Don't give up, don't compromise, and in this market be willing to negotiate with the sellers.

Keep us posted!

JanM
Jan. 6, 2009, 07:53 PM
Don't forget to ask the local law enforcement about the area. I don't know what disclosure laws you have but in this state there are zero-and that hides a lot of things. Check the state sex offender registry for the area-living next to a halfway house for felons might be a bad thing. What are the restrictions and covenants and definitely check zoning with the zoning board-don't take anyone else's research for this. Definitely think twice about a place that might have suburbs close to it-remember all the threads about building fencing and such to keep people away. Consider the security aspects such as gating driveways etc to protect yourself and your animals.

winsmorefarm
Jan. 6, 2009, 09:06 PM
Check out your potential neighbors. Drive by during different times of the day and week. If there is a private road, double check any and all CC&R's, zoning, DEFINATELY HIRE AN ATTORNEY to review everything. Find out where your septic is, have your well tested and find out where all water pipes run BEFORE you move in (and the seller has their money and cannot be reached).

One of our neighbors decided to open up a winery (without permits, notifying neighbors, following the laws, etc.) on our private road, so now we have the general public (after they have been wine tasting) zooming up and down our road EVERY weekend, on holidays and even during some evenings when they decide to host Special Events.

Our once peaceful private road and "family" country community is more like the McCoys vs. the Hattfields over this.

Katy9532
Jan. 6, 2009, 10:56 PM
THANK YOU everyone for the very useful advice. I honestly never would have thought to check the water!

I thought I may fill in a couple of blanks and say that I have lived in this town for over 20 years, grew up here and went to the schools in the district that I am looking in. I'm quite familiar with the area.

I know that I have 2 horse and (possibly 3 with in the next year) so I need enough land to hold them.

I also am in absolutely NO big hurry to buy which I am aware may p*ss off the realtor. I just cannot let this market go by with out seeing what is out there, and have someone looking with my interest in mind.

I also might add that I got my days ahead of myself I'm not meeting with the realtor for two more days. Ooops, blond!!!!

silver2
Jan. 6, 2009, 11:26 PM
Katy, check your water rights too if it's not on a well, or if the well is only for the house and irrigation water is riparian- are the water rights deeded to the property or do you share with a water district? Are the rights fully legal and up to date? If you're part of a small ag district are there dues, capital improvement fees etc?

yellow-horse
Jan. 6, 2009, 11:28 PM
i'm sure i pissed off my realtor, it took 2 years to find this and i saw easily 30 farms, but i was the one buying it, so don't get pushed into something that doesn't feel right, my realtor tried that a few times early on

Katy9532
Jan. 7, 2009, 12:00 AM
i'm sure i pissed off my realtor, it took 2 years to find this and i saw easily 30 farms, but i was the one buying it, so don't get pushed into something that doesn't feel right, my realtor tried that a few times early on

Im quite sure that I will have the same story!!!

Thing is I am girl, and crazy picky!!!! I know exactly what I want, I can bend on somethings, but I will not be pushed into buying a house/barn until I know it is perfect (for me)!!!!

Lincoln
Jan. 7, 2009, 09:47 AM
This thread could make a great handbook on buying horse properties! What great advice!

On the annoying your broker by being "too" picky front, I think that's less of an issue if you divide the work efficiently. Noone likes to waste their time. With the internet, you can do a lot of the pre-vetting of properties on your own, and use the realtor for the stuff he/she can really help you with. The broker can probably set you up with an MLS search on email daily that shows you what's on the market There is so much information online that it can be a lot more efficient to do your own driveby's and initial reviews and only schedule showings with a broker when you really like something. Uses everyone's time more efficiently. Especially now when only distressed properties are coming on the market, there are probably lots of properties that could be for sale that aren't listed publicly. Your broker can do some digging on what might be coming to the market that's interesting or even talk to landowners of places you like that aren't on the market on your behalf (without disclosing who you are, of course, which is a lot more comfortable particularly in a small town). That's a good way to split the labor and avoids annoying anyone.

Also, be really clear about what you like and don't like with your broker. Don't be worried about being nice about properties if it's not for you - it's like looking at horses - be efficient and businesslike and get out of there. Take the time when it's worth it and everyone will be happier. Good luck in a couple days.

webmistress32
Jan. 7, 2009, 09:55 AM
don't look at any less than 20-30 properties and low ball them all.

or better yet annouce that you have $x to spend and have the sellers all submit their best offers to you.

this market is historic in its fall. it has another 20% to go down. don't overpay ... don't overpay and don't overpay!!

webmistress32
Jan. 7, 2009, 10:00 AM
also I can recommend a great book: Horse Keeping on a Small Acreage.

I read the entire thing at least three times before starting to look for my own place.

we did NOT overpay as a matter of fact horse properties move VERY slowly which makes sellers very negotiable ... and we bought at the peak of the market (course we also sold at the peak of the market) but this book told me everything I needed to have in a horse property so I knew exactly what I wanted before I set foot on any of them.

I am happy to say I found the perfect place.

Bluey
Jan. 7, 2009, 10:03 AM
Once you have your sights on a property, find who has been caring for their well.

Our well man here has records back to 1917 on our wells and on many of the properties around here and can tell you who has a good, strong clean well, who is in an area that is going dry and all kinds of other details.

Try fiding who is in charge of their well, or find some long time, old well men in the area and ask them about the water.

DLee
Jan. 7, 2009, 10:23 AM
Have a GOOD inspector who will not just go through the house and sign everything off even if it hasn't been turned on (aka water, electric, heat, a/c, etc).
We bought 11 acres, some of which was wooded, and who knew the amount of garbage that could be put in the woods??? We are STILL taking it out, and that's after we found their 'dump' and had 3 of the biggest dumpsters filled and hauled out at our expense. :mad:

ilikridn
Jan. 7, 2009, 10:23 AM
Katy,

We looked for our place for about two years on landsoftexas.com. So no realtor involved at first. We just knew we wanted to be somewhere in Central TX and had certain things we wanted... acreage, good land (not totally flat, not rocky), water, some pasture, some trees, if a house on property, not a total dump, a bit of fixing up okay, horse facilities would be nice, etc., and of course, a price we could afford!

It took lots of looking but in the end we found exactly what we wanted at a very affordable price. I really think they weren't asking enough for this place. We lucked out. It's our little piece of heaven.

Be prepared to look for awhile and you'll know when you find the right place. Just don't be in a hurry and start compromising on what you really want. Enjoy the search... looking is half the fun!

pines4equines
Jan. 7, 2009, 12:46 PM
Previous poster said: "*Drainage, drainage, drainage. Go recheck the property again during heavy rain or directly after heavy rains and see where the water pools and how it runs. Nobody wants to buy a mud pit..."

I can NOT stress this enough. Our farm is on the top of a hill and while we get muddy and we do because we are in the north east and it's wet, it eventually does run off and away.

I've noticed other horse farms who bought in low lying areas and they just never, ever dry up and the problems horse related with that much wetness is a real drag...heel scratches, hoof care, thrush, you name it...

Also if you're buying a horse farm and say it's 50 acres or whatever but 25 are designated wet lands and you can't put horses on it, chances are the other 25 that you CAN put horses on will be just as wet as the wetlands. Again, the wet situation.

You can change fencing, barns, houses but the lay of the land is the lay of the land.

A nice addition to a farm is a pond however. Lots of fun things to do with your horse in a pond. Plus then you can have ducks and geese, they do keep the fly population down a bit. Back in the 70s, the previous owners of our place were paid BY THE STATE to dig our wet lands up and put in a pond. It's nice but you can't do that these days.

horsetales
Jan. 7, 2009, 02:45 PM
Good luck.

Also look into manure management and any regulations.

If you are looking at anything where you will have to build a barn or anything else (outside of the house) check what bldg permits/requirement you might need. We got a rude surprise in that we needed a land development plan for the barn - engineering/survey document which isn't cheap :mad:

You might also want to look into DSL/internet/cable options. There are still rural areas that you are stuck with either dial-up or satelite - you don't want to be without easy COTH access ;)

Get an experienced equine realator or be sure you agent screens the property before you go out there. I can't tell you how many write-ups we saw with "bring the horses" and we would get there and it would be 1 acre flat and the rest up the mountains or most of the pasture in flood/wetland zones :no:

Katy9532
Jan. 7, 2009, 06:42 PM
Manure management, another great thing to put on my list!!!!

As for the realtor, she is one of the best in this area, has been here forever and/ know all about the area, the properties. And did I say she only deals in horse property
Which brings me to a concern of mine that I currently live in a town house and Im a bit concerned that she may not want sell this type of place.

The inspector that I will use is not only my best friends dad (and is meticulous) but he also lives on a horse farm himself so he "is in the know."

Thank you folks!!!! I can't tell you how much this is going to help my search.

springer
Jan. 8, 2009, 10:25 AM
be VERY skeptical of any easements that may exist on a property. I bought my property from a man (through a realtor) and it had an easement crossing over his property to get to mine. The result was having to go through 2 gates to get into my place. The guy did it because he COULD. I've heard other easement horror stories too. Just be sure to know what you will be dealing with before buying!

JanM
Jan. 8, 2009, 10:54 AM
Great idea Springer! I forgot about easements-nothing like having the power company put a high powerline through the back 40-or have a subdivision built behind you with a big road going through your place.

And what utilities are available? What will you have to pay to get phone, electric etc run to your house?

BasqueMom
Jan. 8, 2009, 10:55 AM
You have gotten great advice.....second getting a good attorney! Get a survey,
no ifs, ands or buts, a full survey. We've had a couple of big surprises when the survey
was done. One resulted in not buying the property, the second would have resulted in the
same thing circumstances had been different. And take a good look at it before closing!
Also drive by after it is done to see where the flags, first surveyer didn't bother to inform
us there was a problem. We caught it on a drive by.

poltroon
Jan. 8, 2009, 11:27 AM
As for the realtor, she is one of the best in this area, has been here forever and/ know all about the area, the properties. And did I say she only deals in horse property
Which brings me to a concern of mine that I currently live in a town house and Im a bit concerned that she may not want sell this type of place.

There's no reason you have to use the same realtor for both transactions. If you want to use another realtor for your sale, tell her so. And if you're not sure, ask her directly.

By the way, you should also try a search here on the topic. You could spend weeks reading all the good posts about buying and outfitting a farm in the archives. :)

dkcbr
Jan. 8, 2009, 03:20 PM
I've always used a different agent for the two different transactions, so I don't see any problem there. :)

One thing that I've become hypersensitive to is ---- how close are any neighbors whose favorite pastime is dirtbike riding. I had never thought of anything like that 'til I moved to my farmette and heard the relentless and LOUD drone of dirtbikes. Around and around and around and around. :mad: I was so happy when they finally moved away. But in the meantime the noise and dust really hampered full enjoyment of my peaceful property.

So now if there's a property I'm interested in, I look at the satellite view of the area to see if there's a track anywhere within earshot. Red flag! :lol:

JanM
Jan. 8, 2009, 04:41 PM
I second using Google Earth or terraserver to scope out the area. It's amazing what you don't realize is near you until the noise or trespassing start.

For the selling of your current property-ask you agent if she handles properties like that, and if she doesn't there could be someone at her agency that does or someone she could recommend. The most important thing in sales now for all properties is a great marketing plan, including fast mls listings, a great listing ad, accurate pricing, and lots of pictures (if I am looking at houses and they don't have pictures I don't even bother going any further-it's a waste of my time and the sellers time to go look at something that is totally unsuitable and I could probably determine this from the pictures).

The people next door to me had their place on the market for six months-the realtor advertised, they had lots of visits and one failed contract. They changed realtors, lowered the price (only by 1 or 2 percent), had a much more aggressive marketing campaign and wonderful pictures-it was under contract in four days and finalized in three weeks. The difference to me was that the pictures were much better, the price was a few thousand lower and the marketing campaign was much wider-the right realtor can make all the difference.-buyers want to see exactly what the property looks like before they visit to weed out the wrong ones.

godoget
Jan. 8, 2009, 05:16 PM
A lot of counties have added a tax mapping program to their websites that gives you a lot of good information about the parcels of land. Things like the tax value, the last sale date and price, soil types, soil contours, flood ways, 100 and 500 year flood zones, the owner's name, aerial photos...... That was the first place I went each time I found a new property listing. It's usually called GIS.


Also:
The USDA lists rural properties in default on FmHA loans.

I would echo the drainage alert and the warning about the expense and time involved in clearing wooded or cut-over land. Roots....rocks....trash heaps....no established pasture....

You can always buy existing barns and fences cheaper than you can build your own. It's worth paying a little more for a property that is ready for horses.

I love having my horses at home but I also sacrifice a lot of riding time with daily chores and maintenance.

Good luck!

Valentina_32926
Jan. 8, 2009, 05:35 PM
Look it up and ensure it's not in a flood zone.

Introduce yourself to the neighbor's and see if they know of any problems with the farm. Approach them with he attitude "I need to budget for problems needing fixing" in case they're good buds with the seller.

Katy9532
Jan. 8, 2009, 07:45 PM
Realtor is willing to list and sell my property, no problems there.

How many times did you have the realtor show you the property before you made and offer? I know I can do all the drive bys I want to. But did the realtor walk you through 2,3, or more times?

I looked at my house that I currently live in twice before I was sure that I wanted to buy it.

And did when did you start neighbor investigations? On the first showing? Or second when you thought you may be really serious?

If these are dumb questions, Im sorry. I just felt like there were so many surprises on my first buying experience that I'm honestly a little gun shy this time.

DLee
Jan. 9, 2009, 08:52 AM
We had to buy this place long distance, so we only saw (and smelled :( ) it once. A definite disadvantage. But it was the only one available in this county that we could come close to affording, so it wasn't like narrowing the choices down! I had to depend a lot on my realtor, and she was so-so. The inspector, the same. The first time we turned the water on the "small drip" shot a geyser out from under the sink. :rolleyes:
But, whatever. We wouldn't trade it. We definitely didn't buy it for the house anyway, but for the land and where it was sitting. :yes:

JDufort
Jan. 9, 2009, 11:16 PM
don't look at any less than 20-30 properties and low ball them all.

or better yet annouce that you have $x to spend and have the sellers all submit their best offers to you.

this market is historic in its fall. it has another 20% to go down. don't overpay ... don't overpay and don't overpay!!


I have to disagree with the "lowball then all" advice.

If you look at 20-30 properties, and review carefully with your Realtor recent sales in your area - you should be able to discern which properties are priced with more value and which are not. Nothing shows an uneducated buyer more than one who is more discount driven than value driven. You will get much further with a value-based approach. For a whole bunch of reasons, some sellers overprice their proprties substantially, and some set their prices very close to the market, and some even set their prices below the market. I would suggest you hold off making any offer until you are comfortable with your ability to tell the difference.

JanM
Jan. 10, 2009, 11:53 AM
After I looked at everything for sale that you consider worthy to look at (take notes or pictures to distinguish them-they all start looking alike after a while). Make a checklist of what you need to have (# of bedrooms, closets sizes, etc) and when you narrow it to the top two or three go back and look at those-take a disinterested friend (very critical if possible) to help you evaluate them. At the narrow to two or three point check out the neighbors, zoning, (Google Earth definitely), check for easements, and go see the local property records-nothing like deciding and buying a place to find out it has liens or easements you can deal with. When you are totally commited to a place make an offer contingent on survey accuracy, and inspection.

Romany
Jan. 10, 2009, 09:03 PM
Another book for you to dig out of the library and read carefully, is Freakonomics. It's generally an excellent read, but the parts on realtors and how the commission is earned, are REALLY excellent.

http://www.amazon.com/Freakonomics-Revised-Expanded-Economist-Everything/dp/0061234001/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231639335&sr=8-1

Don't think for a second that your realtor has YOUR interests at heart - however nice/friendly/rural/competent/knowledgeable, etc, they are, their priority is to buy/sell properties, not make buyers/sellers happy. ;)

All the other advice you've received so far is excellent - wish we'd had it when we first got into buying rural properties.

FWIW, our most recent realtor hadn't a clue about horses or farms, but he was an excellent negotiator, and he was also very open about what he DIDN'T know about.

prudence
Jan. 10, 2009, 09:13 PM
Another good viewing source is www.zillow.com (http://www.zillow.com). They have prices of properties through the years, as well as a very rough estimate of current market value. Don't rely on it for details but it is useful for first looks. Lots of wrong information but it's on a microsoft virtual earth platform and shows rough property lines.

Also, like we always find out on Househunters, you're probably not going to find everything you want in one place. We had to make concessions in buying this place - smaller house and acreage- the closeness to work and good riding places plus useable land and PRICE were the deciding factors.

Have fun!

threemares
Jan. 10, 2009, 09:36 PM
I also have the book "Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage" and it is great. I bought my house with only 3 1/2 acres for my two(now 3)horses. It was just the house and I had to build the barn and fencing. If the buildings and fence aren't already there, check out where the leach lines are. This caused a problem for me. I thought I had everything figured out perfectly until I realized that the leach lines took up half the property and everybody I talked to said not to even let the horses walk around on them. I had to completely rearrange everything and still couldn't get it to work. Guess what? The horses wlk around on the leach lines! I guess I'll find out someday if it really is a problem. Obviously, with more property this won't be an issue.

Katy9532
Jan. 10, 2009, 11:37 PM
Don't think for a second that your realtor has YOUR interests at heart - however nice/friendly/rural/competent/knowledgeable, etc, they are, their priority is to buy/sell properties, not make buyers/sellers happy. ;)


I learned that on my last purchase, that is why this time I had a friend that was a realtor "refer" me to the realtor that I wanted to use. The plan was that if things are not going my way, he can jump in and mediate for my interest. We will see if that works any better.

Boy is my book list growing!!!!



So I was talking to one of my girlfriends about some of the properties that the realtor emailed me. Three of the properties are in counties that my friend says are "black dirt." She says that they are all priced the way they are because of the soil. She says that when it is dry there are cracks so big the horses will stick a leg in and could break it! And when it rains it is so slippery, and muddy that it will pull off their shoes.
Now I'm not saying that there are not good and bad soil, but I have lived near these areas my whole life and have never seen what she is talking about.
I told her that I was going to go check it out myself. But I'm wondering if any one here can validate what she says or just generally tell me more about it.

county
Jan. 11, 2009, 12:06 AM
Buy as much land as you can right off. I bought 208 acres when I bought this place and should have bought the 120 next to it that was for sale at the time. It never gets cheaper.

chai
Jan. 11, 2009, 09:37 AM
county, it must be so nice to have that kind of room and privacy!

To the o/p, you have been given such good advice already, but I will add one more suggestion, from my own experience. I found a beautiful little farm with a price that was suspiciously lower than other farms I had looked at in the area. I loved the property, but when I asked the realtor why it was on the market for such a low price, he told me the owners missed their friends in their old town and wanted to move back. Hmmm, I thought. Sure.

I drove up the road and found a woman out walking her dog. I stopped and asked her about the neighborhood and if she knew why the man was selling the farm. She said, 'Don't you know about the airplanes? It's been in big news here for the last six months."

It turns out that the man across the street from the sale property had put in his own grass airstrip and the landing path went right over the farm, about 30 feet above the house. He had two bi planes that he flew all the time and it was driving the owners of the sale farm crazy. Funny...the realtor never mentioned that when I asked about the neighbors.

If your gut tells you that something is not quite right, go the extra step to do your homework, even if you love the property.
Good luck.

Unfforgettable
Jan. 11, 2009, 09:53 AM
I'm just finishing up on buying my little piece of heaven....we close at the end of the month. Only thing I'm waiting on is the last town meeting for my conditional use permit, and that's this week. So far, I've gotten approvals on everything...now as long as the neighbors don't have any objections, we're set to go.

You've gotten a lot of great advice here so far. One thing I'm glad I did was go through the home inspection *with* my inspector....while I looked at the house and barn with eyes of love ;) , he didn't have an emotional investment like I do, and while I still love it, I see it in a much more practical light, plus I saw every little detail he found first hand. It took me a year and a half and I covered eight counties to find the right place and then get it bought...I first looked at this place a year ago, and viewed it four times before the price came down enough to afford. It's way out in the sticks...I'm the only driveway on a two mile dirt road, and the closest neighbors are 1/4 mile away, through the woods. House is only a few years old, and so is the barn.

The only advice I can add is to go through the home inspection with your inspector, and also get quotes on what you'll need for any additions or repairs. Your dream place is out there waiting for you, and now is the time to buy!

Katy9532
Jan. 11, 2009, 10:11 AM
county,
It turns out that the man across the street from the sale property had put in his own grass airstrip and the landing path went right over the farm, about 30 feet above the house. He had two bi planes that he flew all the time and it was driving the owners of the sale farm crazy. Funny...the realtor never mentioned that when I asked about the neighbors.

If your gut tells you that something is not quite right, go the extra step to do your homework, even if you love the property.
Good luck.

HAHAHA that is so funny. Because my BF and I are pilots too. He will be pushing the airstrip once we get settled!!!!!! I guess we could turn into the neighbors that everyone hates!!!!!!!!

But a small side note on the biplane pilot. If he was really that enoying, you could contact the FAA and they can always "find" something that would ground the man!!

JanM
Jan. 11, 2009, 11:21 AM
Always ask as many neighbors as you possibly can about any property. My realtor (no disclosure here) failed to mention the house across the street wasn't a repo (my guess) but the b*$(% and her livein are drug dealers and she got caught with a meth lab inside the house. They are the worst thing about this neighborhood though. After closing when I asked the owners about the house across the street the wife said the girl temporarily moved out but would be back--lying b#*$# didn't mention she was in jail. If I had asked the snoopy-nose next to the house I would have known everything and bought elsewhere even if I had to rent first and move again later. 20-20 hindsight doesn't help. And once you know about a problem on a property you are required by law to disclose it-including sex offenders you found out about, other problems with the house and anything else that you can get sued for. Of course, it depends on the state laws-I understand in GA that once you sign for the house at closing that it nullifies the disclosure however I'm hoping they changed that. People shouldn't profit by screwing over the buyer and leaving them stuck but it certainly happens regularly.

Plumcreek
Jan. 11, 2009, 12:55 PM
So I was talking to one of my girlfriends about some of the properties that the realtor emailed me. Three of the properties are in counties that my friend says are "black dirt." She says that they are all priced the way they are because of the soil. She says that when it is dry there are cracks so big the horses will stick a leg in and could break it! And when it rains it is so slippery, and muddy that it will pull off their shoes.
Now I'm not saying that there are not good and bad soil, but I have lived near these areas my whole life and have never seen what she is talking about.
I told her that I was going to go check it out myself. But I'm wondering if any one here can validate what she says or just generally tell me more about it.

Your friend is talking about CLAY. Unlike sand, which is roundish grains, clay particles are flat platelets, which slide upon themselves when wet - why it is slippery as a footing.

Clay can be brown and red as well as black (black means a higher organic content - good for crops, bad for you). The cracking that develops as clay dries out and contracts is a good clue, as is very fine grained soil where you can't feel sand grains. Clay contracts when drying and expands when wet (term is expansive soils) which causes heaving under house foundations and cracks in walls, as well.

The best test for you is to take a small handful of soil and wet it, then clench it in your fist. If it forms a hard ball that sticks tight, it will also stick to horses hooves and your shoes. If it only sticks together slightly or you can feel sand grains, you are probably OK.

Skip the black dirt areas.

eventersmom
Jan. 11, 2009, 06:09 PM
We are two years into the purchase of our first farm and have learned a lot! There were several things that were non-negotiable to us. First, we had to have good, established pastures. I didn't mind fighting a weed problem but didn't want to have to plant the pastures and get the grass going ourselves. We didn't have that kind of time.

Water was also a consideration and we were lucky enough to find a property that has TWO water meters, one for the house and one for the barn.

We wanted to make sure drainage wasn't an issue and that the majority of the pasture wasn't a swamp the majority of the year. We were lucky enough to find a property that's on a gentle grade. All of our runoff goes to the neighboring property naturally. :yes:

I would also recommend making sure you're in a horse friendly area. It's nice to have neighbors who understand and know what to do if you have an escapee!

Things that were negotiable to us were fencing which is easily fixed/changed, the barn which was in poor shape when we took ownership, and the house.

Talk to your county zoning office not only to check on the current zoning but also to try to get a feel for how easy it is to build new structures or modify existing structures. Some counties have very stringent guidelines.

Good luck! I hope you find your "dream" property!

silver2
Jan. 11, 2009, 10:11 PM
We had horses on a clay area and it was OK, cracks developed but not big enough to break a leg. The pastures weren't as good as they could have been though because clay gets dry in the summer so the grass died earlier than it should have. Clay often means that the place was or is in an area that will flood- look into that. For us it was OK, barns were up high, mud was inevitable unless we moved 100 miles away and the buildings were up on the high end of the property. We used hogfuel to deal with the mud and had a few sandier pastures for winter (flood area- clay at the bottom, sand higher up)

This thread if a great resource, I hope it gets archived!

DressageOPhobia
Jan. 11, 2009, 10:30 PM
Most counties have a great GIS system in place now. Go to the county website where you are looking and check each property. You can see the soils, zoning, neighbors, and all the property tax detail.

One important thing is to check that you are not in the 100 year flood plain. Since I am near a river my county also detailed the 500 year flood plain. Part of my property showed up in that, but not the part with the barn or house or main pastures.

The adequacy of the well is super important, no water, no property value. Can you irrigate from the well, or is for domestic use only. Does the property have any rights to pump from a creek or other body of water.

Water is important, well water, water rights and flood plain details. Since it is winter now,,,now is the best time to look since you want to know if there is standing or running water on the property in winter.
Depends on your area, but in the wet part of Oregon, you want to see where the water pools up because in the summer it all looks like beautiful pastures, but in the winter,,,it is a muddy mess,,,or sometimes just a big shallow lake, or a flash flood area, not horse friendly.
Your area might be different, but you still as another poster said, want to know where the water goes when it rains. You will be dealing with this on your farm.

IronwoodFarm
Jan. 12, 2009, 09:40 AM
Lots of good advice here. I'll add that you DEFINITELY want to have a relationship with a lender prior to looking. Depending on the size of the acreage, you will find that the conventional mortgage lenders may not be able to underwrite it. Farm properties are a specialized area. In my case, we ended up buying a 95 acre property in two parcels, but by working with my lender in advance, we were able to move a lot line and breaking the parcels into segments that got us a much better deal on the mortgages. I used Farm Credit and found them to be extraordinarily helpful.

And like County said earlier, I also would recommend buying as much land as you can. You won't regret it. We started with 95 acres and added another 36 last year. And the 36 acres of raw land cost more than the 95 acres with a farm house did 10 years ago.

DiablosHalo
Jan. 12, 2009, 03:30 PM
I didn't read through all the posts- but another resource to tap is your County conservation district. There is one serving every county in the US. (there might be one office for 5 counties in some states, but they still cover that county). Look it up in blue pages under county government or try www.nrcs.usda.gov and look up their office in your county. Lots of info and help there!

Ask them for information about the soils on the property, location of water protection areas, etc. They can be a wealth of knowledge- and sometimes can get aerial photos of farms for a small fee.

Once you find a property, these offices offer free technical assistance to landowners. They have engineers that will help design drainage, waste structures, tree plantings, etc depending on where you live!

pattnic
Jan. 12, 2009, 11:02 PM
So I was talking to one of my girlfriends about some of the properties that the realtor emailed me. Three of the properties are in counties that my friend says are "black dirt." She says that they are all priced the way they are because of the soil. She says that when it is dry there are cracks so big the horses will stick a leg in and could break it! And when it rains it is so slippery, and muddy that it will pull off their shoes.
Now I'm not saying that there are not good and bad soil, but I have lived near these areas my whole life and have never seen what she is talking about.
I told her that I was going to go check it out myself. But I'm wondering if any one here can validate what she says or just generally tell me more about it.

That's horseshit. I come from Iowa, the land of black dirt (good, true, amazing black dirt - the stuff that people pay for). Yes, black dirt can crack when dry, but I have never seen this to the extent your friend said. Furthermore, I have only seen this happen when it dried out following a heavy rain. When it rains, it can turn into sticky mud, but I've never known it to pull a shoe off. It's no more slippery than any other mud - and significantly less so than red clay, for instance.

If these properties are priced low, it's for another reason - not because of black dirt (in fact, if anything - in my world at least - that should RAISE the price).

Thokki
Jan. 13, 2009, 07:17 PM
You might want to check what is actually growing in the pasture. Any plants poisonous to horses that you will have to eradicate? Any "bad" trees, red maple, etc. Our pastures have been used to grow hay for cattle, so there is Alsike clover out there that I have to get rid of before I can put horses on it.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jan. 13, 2009, 09:05 PM
Buy as much land as you can right off. I bought 208 acres when I bought this place and should have bought the 120 next to it that was for sale at the time. It never gets cheaper.

Oh county...some land...farm land, mind you...just sold over the border in IA by me for over $8000 an acre. I think it will get cheaper (especially if they have to actually cash flow that loan by farming ;-)

sorry...off topic.

I turned away the perfect view, cute, affordable 12 acre farm, all because the neighbors (who were the kids of the elderly coupld who were selling the homestead) gave us the NASTIEST vibe. When we were walking the shared property line, I smiled and waved and they all just stood on the porch glaring. Then I asked the realtor what the tower at the back of my little dream farm (not on the kids side, mind you) was for and the realtor told me they shoot clays off of it. I thought about angry neighbors shooting right next to my pasture and house and said thank you, no. That and the kids not so friendly dog followed us hair up, growling (while the 50 year old "kids" just watched from the porch). EEeeeesh.

Reynard Ridge
Jan. 15, 2009, 04:31 AM
Seconding what MB said about zoning. I'd recommend buying whatever zoning ordiance book your local area has and committing it to memory. Do not fall into the trap of assuming anything. Be sure to check with the zoning officer in your town prior to agreeing to purchase that you are allowed to do with the property what you would like.

Of course you will do a title search to understand if there are any hidden boogies in your deed. And read the deed yourself. Understand every single word.

Second, thirding and fourthing checking out the neighborhood. If the property has not been used for horses before, do you think the buffoon who lives next door who moved in from the Big City is going to pitch a fit when you start parking Attractive Nusciances next to him?? Happens. :no:

And of course, you will walk every inch of it yourself before you buy it. Friends of ours, who fall into the category of "Dumb City Folk" bought a 17 acre "farm." The thing was a 16 acres of swamp, they failed to understand that their "isolated farm" was backed RIGHT up against a proposed development (they went from total privacy to a housing development in their backyard - all of which was PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE - they just failed to do any research before they purchased). So, the more research you do, the better. :yes:

unclewiggly
Jan. 15, 2009, 08:56 AM
I am sure most of this is redundant but have sold and bought 2 farms W/O a realtor (succesfully):yes:
Make sure you see everything w/ your own eye, read all the paper work and be included in all negotiations. Get it in writing on the deed that you can do what you plan w/ property.
Check zoning laws yourself about amount of livestock allowed per acre.
and any livestock exclusions. Go to zoning office and ask around about anything you plan to do now or in the future.
Make sure you know of the fencing rules, especially if you plan to change whats there.
Look to see what proposed expansions are in the works for the community you are buying in. Roads, sewer, water, schools., developments
Make sure you not only have house But ALL buildings on premises included in your Home Inspection.
Ask your insurance company if they will insure your farm and if not who will.
PLEASE check out the neighbors, find out if they have filled any complaints about living near a "Horse Farm".
Find out rules about manure disposal or spreading.
and finally call in @ the local Farm or Ag extension office. We found out that alot of the work we did regarding water run off and manure containment is cost shared between 95 and 75%. Same w/ pasture maintance and seed/reseeding. There are programs but you have to ASK.

FoxChaser
Jan. 15, 2009, 10:08 AM
You've gotten a ton of good advice!! I'm not about to read through all of it, but if no one has suggested it, once you find a place and are set on it, be sure to have it surveyed. Do not believe anything anyone tells you unless they physically take you around and show you all the survey pins. We didn't do this and have found that our driveway sits on the easement. That means that our trailer pad just off our driveway isn't really on our property :( Good thing we had the surveyors out before we fenced!!!

cindylouwho
Jan. 15, 2009, 10:56 AM
Remember to budget for a tractor. It is a necessary evil and they cost as much or more than a nice car! Plus all the attachments... I had no idea a tractor costs so much and how important it was to the farm.

Check water, drainage and the floodplain. Does the farm or parts of it ever flood?

Who are your neighbors? What animals do they have and how are they cared for? Don't be afraid to ask and snoop around. Neighbors love to talk about neighbors, that is what we do in the country. A cattle farmer with a QH or walking horse, will never understand a TB and what is necessary to take care of one. Weed control on your pasture will do you no good if over the fence is a field of weeds.

Fences can be replaced, but they are very expensive. Good fences make good neighbors, but even with the best fences, animals get out. A good neighbor with bad dogs can run good horses thru good fence within minutes.

Katy9532
Jan. 16, 2009, 12:40 PM
Well I guess I will give everyone an update.

I have been to see several properties now, and so far have been unimpressed.

I did not expect to find one this quick by any means, but I think I have a long road ahead of me.

My folks own a pretty large plot of land and my mom is pushing my dad to let me build on it. That way I could have everything that I want. Problem: it is about 20 mi north of where I want to be, but the land is gorgeous, it backs up to a lake, has a spring feed pond in the middle that the cows drink from now. I would get it tested if I did move the horses. Then that begs the question where would we move the cows too?

So I may be building now and not buying. I will keep everyone updated!

ESG
Jan. 17, 2009, 07:58 AM
Your friend is talking about CLAY. Unlike sand, which is roundish grains, clay particles are flat platelets, which slide upon themselves when wet - why it is slippery as a footing.

Clay can be brown and red as well as black (black means a higher organic content - good for crops, bad for you). The cracking that develops as clay dries out and contracts is a good clue, as is very fine grained soil where you can't feel sand grains. Clay contracts when drying and expands when wet (term is expansive soils) which causes heaving under house foundations and cracks in walls, as well.

The best test for you is to take a small handful of soil and wet it, then clench it in your fist. If it forms a hard ball that sticks tight, it will also stick to horses hooves and your shoes. If it only sticks together slightly or you can feel sand grains, you are probably OK.

Skip the black dirt areas.

I don't think this is clay, Plumcreek. Or, at least, not like you'd find in the "red belts" (Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas). Down here in southeast Texas, there's something called "black gumbo". It's more loamy than clay would be, and ALWAYS seems heavy, no matter whether it's wet or dry. But you're so right to say to avoid it, because nothing good ever comes of having it on your property. :no:

Katy9532
Jan. 17, 2009, 11:01 AM
I don't think this is clay, Plumcreek. Or, at least, not like you'd find in the "red belts" (Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas). Down here in southeast Texas, there's something called "black gumbo". It's more loamy than clay would be, and ALWAYS seems heavy, no matter whether it's wet or dry. But you're so right to say to avoid it, because nothing good ever comes of having it on your property. :no:

Yes you are right it is also know as "black gumbo." Everyone says you can bring in sandy soil or simply just only buy sandy soil.

BasqueMom
Jan. 18, 2009, 03:14 AM
We have some of that wonderful black clay--never again! Had we gone 20 miles east,
sandy loam.

And underneath the lovely stuff about 10 inches down is a thick layer of limestone. So,
setting fence posts is big $$$$$. Plus the limestone breaks apart and works it's way to the surface in chunks. The clay in front of the barn overhang will literally suck your shoes off.
We've twice tried to rework the area plus added many loads of sand to the arena where it
either blew away or slipped into the cracks.

If you are curious about what's underneath the land, invest in a utility finder from
Lowe's or Home Depot for about $25 or $30. It's about a 4 foot rod with a point on one
end and a T-handle on the other. Shove it into the ground and see if it hits rock.

ESG
Jan. 18, 2009, 09:05 AM
Yes you are right it is also know as "black gumbo." Everyone says you can bring in sandy soil or simply just only buy sandy soil.

Well, you're quite right to say that it's just better to avoid it altogether. I know some folks south of town who've tried to correct their black gumbo footing by bringing sand in. Seems that black gumbo thinks sand is a delicacy, because it just swallows it up and says thankya, and your sand is only an expensive memory. :D One very good reason why I'll never live south of I-10! :lol:

ESG
Jan. 18, 2009, 09:07 AM
We have some of that wonderful black clay--never again! Had we gone 20 miles east,
sandy loam.

And underneath the lovely stuff about 10 inches down is a thick layer of limestone. So,
setting fence posts is big $$$$$. Plus the limestone breaks apart and works it's way to the surface in chunks. The clay in front of the barn overhang will literally suck your shoes off.
We've twice tried to rework the area plus added many loads of sand to the arena where it
either blew away or slipped into the cracks.

If you are curious about what's underneath the land, invest in a utility finder from
Lowe's or Home Depot for about $25 or $30. It's about a 4 foot rod with a point on one
end and a T-handle on the other. Shove it into the ground and see if it hits rock.

What a GREAT suggestion, Julie! Thanks! DH and I have our place on the market and are looking for another. That little gadget would be VERY handy for finding out exactly what you're going to be building on. I didn't know those existed. THanks again. :cool:

Bluey
Jan. 18, 2009, 09:22 AM
Here, every time a pad is prepared to build a house, the dirt work company packs the dirt to certain standards and a soil testing company comes out to measure that it is compressed to within 94+ %.
Lending companies around here demand those tests be on file before building starts.

If you find some area you like, try to see who in that area is doing that kind of testing and ask them what the soils are where you are thinking of moving to and what if any you have to watch for.

You can never have enough information.:)

JanM
Jan. 18, 2009, 09:36 AM
Whatever you do don't fall in love with a place for the wrong reasons. Make a firm list of Have To's, and list of optionals, and preferably take someone objective with you for balance on the first visit. Don't fall in love with staging or a superficial remodel and make sure you ask around and get the toughest and pickiest home inspector you can find (mine was an idiot and is still in the business). And since you are getting agricultural property the local ag agent would be a good source of info.

Plumcreek
Jan. 18, 2009, 12:58 PM
Here, every time a pad is prepared to build a house, the dirt work company packs the dirt to certain standards and a soil testing company comes out to measure that it is compressed to within 94+ %.
Lending companies around here demand those tests be on file before building starts.

If you find some area you like, try to see who in that area is doing that kind of testing and ask them what the soils are where you are thinking of moving to and what if any you have to watch for.

You can never have enough information.:)

This is a good point. Any property, anywhere, is probably next to other properties that have had wells drilled or geotechnical soil testing for foundations or leach line percolation. You can usually ask those companies and get a pretty good idea for the property under consideration without paying for those tests until you actually buy and then need that well or leach field. A good well driller can say pretty close how deep water is in an area, average gallons per minute flow, and what the quality is like.

The gist of all this good advice is personal time spent doing your own due dilligance, which many people would rather rely on others to do.

hosspuller
Jan. 18, 2009, 07:40 PM
Remember to budget for a tractor. It is a necessary evil and they cost as much or more than a nice car! Plus all the attachments... I had no idea a tractor costs so much and how important it was to the farm.


Good advice. If you've been boarding, you've likely forgotten the chores a tractor makes easy. Moving hay & feed, the final product of the costly hay. building facilities like fence or water lines. Must have attachments are a mower(bushhog) and a front end loader.

Important: Unlike cows or goats, horses are picky eaters. After a couple of seasons, your pasture will be all weeds. You'll need to mow the pastures after the horses to keep the weeds down. Spraying alone can't manage the weeds.

Katy9532
Sep. 8, 2010, 10:14 PM
I just thought I would give a quick update for those of you that care. I have not yet found my dream house. I had to put looking on hold for a bit because my DH almost lost his job because of this economy. We have been back on the hunt again for a while now. I have come close to making an offer on several properties, but for different reasons I have passed on them all.

I have found over and over again that I may like a house on paper but it does not have a barn, or maybe only a run in shed. I am trying to get a good idea if it will be affordable to build a barn if I find a great property.

So that is my update, not great, but still looking.