View Full Version : ??? when do we start looking for our new farm???

Feb. 5, 2010, 10:48 AM
the decision has been made--after years of discussion and what-ifs.
my daughter and i have decided that we will put our respective homes on the market in the next couple of years and move somewhere together. we each need our own homes, either as neighbors or in a family compound type situation. we know roughly where we'll be moving to, but we don't know when to start looking. the communities will be new to both of us, i think we should start driving around and checking them out sooner rather than later.
but when do we contact a realtor? when do we start looking at properties? we're both very excited about it all, and have had several false starts. but now both husbands are fully on board and looking forward to the plan, and it's no longer an just an interesting idea.
so now what?!

Feb. 5, 2010, 11:08 AM
okay - I'm a realtor who sells both farm properties and residential. This is how it works where I am:

Are you staying in the area where you currently live? If not, start searching for a location that will work for all of you. Interview realtors to gain an understanding of the market in your area and specifically, the price range for your home(s). This gives you a game plan both dollar-wise and timing-wise. Pick a realtor who will, most of all, tell you the truth - not just tell you what you want to hear...

Determine the specifics of what you want in a farm. If your realtor isn't farm-savvy, ask for a referral to someone who knows what they're looking at and local regulations and issues. Yes, you need to do your "due diligence" as well, but you need someone who knows the area and can tell you what to ask -

Keep an eye out for what you want, but focus on selling your homes. The old days of "home sale contingencies" and "bridge loans" aren't happening these days... Get your home (at least one of them) under contract so you can find a farm and mortgage the rest, if need be, until both houses are sold.

Feb. 5, 2010, 12:28 PM
I did something similar, my in-laws had to sell their place, we had to sell our place, and buy a new big place for the "combined" family home and horses.

First we picked an area (Ocala), then contacted realtors both to sell our homes, and to find a farm for us. We did a lot of internet searches for farms, touched base daily, and then planned a weekend trip to actually view all the properties that fit our specs (24 in all). It was hectic and nerve wracking, we found a farm on that weekend, put in the offer, and then sweated a lot until our homes were sold.

Feb. 5, 2010, 02:47 PM
but when do we contact a realtor? when do we start looking at properties? we're both very excited about it all, and have had several false starts. but now both husbands are fully on board and looking forward to the plan, and it's no longer an just an interesting idea.
so now what?!
When you think you're seriously ready to buy in the next year. You don't want to waste the time of sellers and realtors when your purchase is still in the far future.

Feb. 5, 2010, 04:33 PM
I second the don't shop and fall in love with a new property if you have to sell your current ones first in this d#*$ market. Decide on a definite time to start trying to sell both current properties and spend time between now and then fixing anything you need to on the current places. Paint interior rooms off white or neutral beige (for heaven's sake no accent walls or anything else taste specific). Watch shows like Real Estate Intervention and Get is Sold or the Unsellables on HGTV to see what you need to do. Don't advertise 'quick possession possible' if it isn't possible (I've known people who needed a house soon, and were told properties advertising 'quick possession' weren't going to be available for months). Secure elsewhere all valuables (especially portable ones) including silver or expensive porcelains, etc, hide prescription medicines, nothing out on the bathroom and kitchen counters, store extra clothes to make closets look bigger, take down all fake plants, and for all showings have curtains and blinds open to increase the amount of light and show the views. Pick a realtor with a good sales record and marketing plan, and one who will put the maximum number of pictures on realtor.com and the local mls also-no pictures today means no sale. Have a really critical friend go through the house and give you their honest and brutal opion on how your house shows. Selling and buying property is a business transaction, not a personal evaluation of your taste so don't take it personally.

Feb. 5, 2010, 05:24 PM
so it sounds like we have three chores on our list for right now.
first, is to scout towns and communities.
second, start preparing both of our homes to sell. i already have a storage unit, so i'll start purging closets, etc. do i really have to paint over my red and saffron walls!? and my rosemary green bedroom?!
third, we need to find a good real estate and family trust lawyer, so we nail down the legalities of it all.
the hardest part for me will definately be cleaning, purging, getting ready to sell. plus i think my house is very unique and special, i need to find a buyer who agrees with me!

plus, what happens if one house sells and the other doesn't for another year or so? we can't really start looking until each house is sold or each house is listed?

Feb. 5, 2010, 06:14 PM
As someone who has had their house on and off the market for several years, I've finally given up looking for property.

Things just aren't moving now....:no:

Our plan would be to sell, get an apartment, THEN start looking for property.

Feb. 5, 2010, 11:07 PM
Suz-if you watch the home sales shows on HGTV the worst thing you can do in a highly competitive market is have a house that will elimate a bunch of potential buyers because they will have to repaint. If I had a choice of properties and I have a choice between a neutral painted one I could live with or repaint easily, or a house I walk in and know I can't live with the wild colors (I'm a very conservative person who hates to paint, and is a bad painter too) or other fixups I'll pick the one that is the least work for me. And if you have to do a paint allowance (I think they call it a decorating allowance too) or a carpet allowance that will be money out of your pocket so you wnat to make as much money as you can, and you want to price correctly for the market, not price for what you think you should get. And make sure the yard is nicely groomed, if your drive or walk needs pressure washing do it, and if anything in the yard didn't survive the winter yank it now-first impressions are everything.

And if one house sells and the other doesn't reevaluate the price on the unsold one, or have the agents look at the house and tell you if there's a reason it isn't selling.

Feb. 6, 2010, 05:50 AM
It sounds like you have to do TWO kinds of looking: 1) research, to decide where to move to and what kind of property will work best for you AND your budget, and 2) when you 'll have the means to purchase pretty much available, real looking to buy.

Feb. 6, 2010, 08:25 AM
My fiance and I are in the middle of this same process. I watched a LOT of HGTV and learned a few things about getting a house sold:

1. De-clutter. Remove all personal items, nick-nacks, and decor that might be deemed 'strange' by some. My fiance loves Salvador Dali, but his framed prints had to go!

2. Neutral colors, preferably with white-ish (not bright white!) trim. Beige, pale sage, light grey, and other neutral colors "pop' with slightly-off-white trim. All-white walls can seem harsh. Think warmth. Paint ceilings if they have stains or seem discolored. You want your rooms to scream FRESH and CLEAN.

3. Let the light in. Remove heavy curtains and replace them with sheers. IKEA has white sheers for $5 a pair. They can actually make a window seem to bring in MORE light than it actually does.

4. Give every room and space a 'purpose.' Not everyone has a great imagination. If you don't 'tell' them what it's for, they won't know what to do with it.

5. Make sure the furniture fits the room. Too many pieces can make a room seem small. Furniture that's too large can do the same.

6. Things to keep or add: mirrors make a room look larger, plants and flowers make a room look alive (but don't go overboard -- people aren't shopping for a jungle), fluffy towels and bathmats in bathrooms (newly prurchased and unused), fresh linens and lots of pillows in bedrooms.

7. Curb appeal. Flowering shrubs, flowers, a neatly trimmed lawn, swept driveway, and trees that are trimmed so they don't obscure the house all help to get it sold.

In the month before his house went on the market, the roof was reshingled, the exterior was repainted (including trim), I repainted most of the ceilings, walls, and trim, and I redocorated every room.

Still, it took 5 months to sell that CT house! Good luck and feel free to PT me if you need help!

PS: I just wanted to add that I'd done very little painting before this, but if you have decent motor skills and take your time, it's really not that hard. One added bonus: now, as we shop for a new place, we can look at something and know just how easy (or difficult) fixes can be.

Feb. 6, 2010, 09:00 AM
After our farm purchase experience, I would recommend a couple of things: 1)researching and seeing places as much as your realtor can stand it, so you KNOW a good buy when you see it, and 2) do not be afraid to ask around and see if some good prospects are willing to sell their farm. I think we visited just about every farm, home, etc in a 15 mile radius of where we bought our farm. We also discovered after the purchase that the prior owner had started getting his farm ready to sell one month after we contacted him privately to buy his farm. It ended up taking another year from then, and we thought we were never going to find a place, when his farm went on the market...well, actually no it didn't because he asked the agent to contact all folks with an interest in the property before listing it. We had it under contract before it was listed...we had a purchase sale agreement in hand when we first toured the farm. If you knew me and how risk averse I am, you would then appreciate the long process that went before that put us in a position to be the first to tour the farm and to put it that night under contract. And we had endured some pretty strange real estate experiences prior to that purchase...watch out for any seller who is in the home when you tour it. I personally would use the search process to energize yourselves to accomplish all the home preparations needed to sell your homes...it is a lot of work. Lastly, with respect to asking around, there are a number of farms around here with owners in their late years(some 80-90 years old). I would think that they would welcome interest in their farm, but one needs to be tactful. After all, you aren't trying to buy them all, just one.

Feb. 6, 2010, 10:43 AM
Hansiska-want to meet for the HGTV anonymous meeting? I know I need a support group. Great analysis of everything to do, but I would include rug steam cleaning if necessary. And make sure the front door is freshly painted and hardware is nice and shiny. Also I have flat latex in all rooms including the bath and kitchen-modern latex is easy to clean and flat hides any wall irregularities better than shiny paint-and my trim is high gloss white but that varies according to taste.

Since OP is a while from buying I would spend the time before actual shopping to keep an eye on properties to see what goes under contract and then goes back on the market-especially if it's the same place over and over because that means something is wrong or it's really overpriced-either the appraisals come in low, or there's possibly some defect in zoning or mechanicals that is a deal breaker. You also need to see who is desperate and probably willing to make you a deal because it's been on the market forever. Research your states reclaiming laws for short sales and repos-most states have a period that the original owner can repay and claim their property leaving you SOL. Also be very careful of unpaid property tax sales-they can have a hideously long time to pay the back taxes and interest and reclaim the property and any improvements you made are gone.

Feb. 7, 2010, 06:35 AM
A warning not to BLINDLY follow the 'standard' recommendations on how to make a house look saleable. A f'rinstance: i had a landlord who was very interested in selling the townhouse we lived in. Following the 'standard' instructions, she had her boyfriend repaint the bottom floor cream. Well, this floor had 'harvest gold' tile with very good condition grey paint. Looked FINE. After boyfriend was finished, with insufficient coats of cream paint over the restrained darkish grey, the walls were a diseased-looking blotchy and the whole level GLOWED 'harvest gold.' The cream-colored paint REALLLLLLLY picked up and somehow MAGNIFIED the color of the harvest gold floor tile, which had been so toned down by the original grey-colored walls that you really didn't notice it before. (P.S. -- harvest gold is REALLLLLLLLY ugly...

Feb. 7, 2010, 09:26 AM
Hansiska-want to meet for the HGTV anonymous meeting? I know I need a support group. Great analysis of everything to do, but I would include rug steam cleaning if necessary. And make sure the front door is freshly painted and hardware is nice and shiny. Also I have flat latex in all rooms including the bath and kitchen-modern latex is easy to clean and flat hides any wall irregularities better than shiny paint-and my trim is high gloss white but that varies according to taste.

Ha ha! Sure! And ditto on the cleaning. We steam cleaned the rugs, washed windows, polished, dusted, vacuumed, swiffered....you name it. Everything's got to be clean. :D

Feb. 7, 2010, 11:27 AM
Also routine maintenance like furnace filter changes-make sure the furnace area or closet in my case is neat and swept up, because if there are neglected areas (or burned out light bulbs anywhere, or beeping smoke alarms) that are routine maintenance buyers figure you didn't go the big things either. In this market you are competing with the turnkey place down the road and have to trump them with your attention to detail. And every morning burn an apple pie or cinnamon scented candle for a while-it makes the house seem homey and welcoming. And clean the gutters out! Piled up gutters are a turnoff, and another sign of undone maintenance pattern by the current owner. Look at the sold comps on "The Unsellables" on HGTV and you'll see what it takes to sell in record time. And remember, if you have a very taste specific house or farm decor scheme you are greatly reducing your buying pool.

Feb. 7, 2010, 11:39 AM
well cleaning is the easy part for me-----it's the decluttering and throwing things away which overwhelms me. just how long do i hold on to college papers? my mother's favorite tea cup? my father in law's favorite bronze letter holder--now broken? i guess i could give that up, since i'll never fix it or use it. i'm going to have to hire someone to help me, room by room, i think.

Feb. 7, 2010, 11:51 AM
suz, this can be a very exciting time for you. You've already been given great advice but having bought and sold four times, I would add: use local internet horse boards to get as much local information as possible about the area you're interested in.
Do your due diligence: go to the Board of Health and look at septic plans, pumping records and setbacks or easements on the plot plan. Then talk to the neighbors. Mr. chai and I found an 11 acre property with a new house and land that was perfect for a barn and paddocks. I had scoured the market so I knew the price was just too low for something that good. I asked the real estate agent why the family was selling such a beautiful new home and he told me they missed their friends in their old town.

I thought that sounded ridiculous, so I drove around until I found a guy walking his dog. I stopped and asked him what he knew about the property. It turned out that the neighbor across the street from the property I looked at owned 2 airplanes and a grass airstrip with the approach about 12 feet over the sale property's house. He also practiced takeoffs and landings all day every Saturday and Sunday. The two neighbors had been in court and it was all over the local newspapers, but because I wasn't from the area, I had no idea. Talking to the neighbor saved us from making a costly mistake so it pays to do your homework.

Best of luck to you in your search!

Feb. 7, 2010, 01:26 PM
Suz-if you have a lot of dump stuff get an industrial dumpster delivered, sort into dump piles, and get some people to help carry out and dump. It sounds more expensive but it gets everything done at once, gets everything hauled at once, and gets you a fresh start. And since you get charged by the day for the dumpsters most places, you pay less. Just pick a good location for the dumpster that is close to the house or whatever you're cleaning out, and won't impact the landscaping permanently. Then clean out all of the old clothes you don't want anymore or will never wear again and donate them. Plus if you have a workshop, garage, outside storage it should be decluttered of that old stuff we all have and don't need again, plus swept up and make it look organized. Decide what goes with the house and what doesn't before showings and list that with the realtor listing also. If there's anything like a chandelier that you are keeping then change it out now before someone sees it and falls in love. Organize instruction books into the ones that stay with the house and the ones you take with you and put the house ones in one place for the new owner. You will need at least two spare keys for the realtor if you use a lock box. Secure all personal paperwork also-so you don't leave any behind or lose any during showings, especially blank checks or identification documents.

Feb. 8, 2010, 10:49 AM
Ditto the recommendation that you get at least one property sold before buying the new place. It is a hassle to have to rent for a while and move twice; but it is way more of a hassle to own too many houses in a bad market!!!

You can always change the house and outbuildings. However, you cannot change the lay of the land and the location. Each property you look at will have it's own unique pros and cons, and you will just have to figure out what works for you. And remember - why are you buying a farm? So you can ride more? Spend more time with your horses? You will be in for many more chores that you might not have to do with a single family home.

Feb. 8, 2010, 05:44 PM
And especially when selling a farm make sure the front yard of the house is neat and trimmed. And don't limit yourself to horse people when selling a horse property, since your buyer might want a vegetable farm, llama or alpaca farm, or start a dog boarding business. And a good thing to do is check with your local zoning people to see what the current zoning restrictions are-no point trying to sell to someone with a commercial lesson or boarding business if it's not allowed.

Feb. 8, 2010, 05:54 PM
oy vey! so many options!
so here is our time line for now.
finish the projects on this farm which will help with resale--new septic system, and terraced wall backyard while the backhoe is here. i already have all of the materials on site for my terrace, they only need to be placed just so to make it look like a real landscaped backyard.

plus i'll finally spring for the matchy-matchy kitchen cabs and counters, and probably move my floor plan around while i'm at it. i'll have to build out one wall and remove two small inner walls, something i'll get my builder over here to quote for me. i'm told my floor plan is weird, and i've been dithering over it for too long, i'm just gonna get it done and be done with it. i need it to be attractive to buyers, and this will be an expense which i'll make back in selling.
after the work is done and the house is decluttered we should feel more ready to get it listed. my daughter doesn't think she can move for another two years, so we'll be researching communities in the meantime.

i'm going to insist on direct access to a dedicated and decent trail system.
here i have to trailer or board out for trails--makes every ride too time consuming and an event.
also no major road, i already live on one and hate it.
i don't need a fancy barn or arena, but a coupld of acres of pasture would be nice. if not, my horses are well adapted to living in the woods after twenty years on the side of this mountain, so i can live without pasture.
my other priority will be some source of fresh running water, i am paranoid about the well running dry or losing water somehow.
and fences, four rails with no-climb liner. that i can add myself, the rest i'll have to be patient for. at least my needs will eliminate a lot of useless looking when the time comes!
all my daughter really wants is cummuting distance and privacy, so she's going to be easy to please.
thanks for your suggestions, i have a plan now!