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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2002
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    Southern California
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    2,154

    Question May be in the market for 1st horse property! UPDATE p.2: What do you think?

    ..adult beverages, medications, head exams?

    Depending on what our accountant and mortgage lender say, we may actually be looking at mini horse property this summer. I came here looking for ideas.

    Big key piece of information: We live in Southern California, where "horse property" is a half acre+ and usually has pipe corrals instead of barns. Where we live, and what we'd be looking at, would be places that have small areas to ride on your own property and trails that lead to public riding arenas for more serious work.

    Our goal: house with more space (meaning, larger lot, size of house itself isn't that important) simple backyard mini-barn with a couple of family horses, maybe goats (my son really, really wants a goat), and chickens.

    FTR, we have boarded our horses at a 100% self care backyard barn since 2004. Rather than get tired of it, I ache to have them in my backyard, not someone else's. I know it makes vacations difficult, but we have a lot of local help, and really since the horses are 100% self care--um, vacations are already difficult. But, not impossible either.

    What do we look for in places that have existing facilities? How about properties that have the land and zoning, but we'd need to add the corrals and such--what do we need to know about the land?

    Basically--what do I need to know that I don't even know I should ask about?
    Last edited by Lauruffian; May. 25, 2013 at 07:18 PM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 2008
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    The Great Northwest!
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    Lots of adult beverages!!

    We just started looking for houses in April, and we found one that we like and both agreed upon (amazing!). The house is bigger than we want, but it's on 17 acres with a huge shop. We are having a heck of a time working with the sellers, and it my opinion it's because their agent is horrible. We've put in one offer, they countered, and we had a home inspection done on Thursday and we are putting in another offer tomorrow morning. I think a home inspection is really worth the cost. Ours was $375, and we got a nice typed up report with pictures of everything that needs to be worked on. It's worth the piece of mind to have one done.

    We are having trouble because the property needs a new drain field, but the sellers can't afford to put one in, and the property will go into foreclosure soon. We are working with the sellers to come up with a solution and payment options for the drain field. It's not fun. We also have to work with DEQ for the drain field, but that probably differs in every state/county. Anyways, I'm glad we have a great agent, because he has been working really hard for us and giving us sound advice. He is my BF's dad, so we trust him completely. We are also living in a different state than where we are buying, so that doesn't make it any easier.

    We've started the paperwork with our mortgage lender (Wells Fargo) and I'm overwhelmed by the amount of records they want! They even wanted my husband's college transcripts and every single pay stub of mine for the last two years. I started an folder on our computer with all of the electronic copies of those documents, and a shoe box with all of the paper copies if I have them. Which reminds me I have to send them copies of our SS cards tonight too. The lender will send out an appraiser once we have a written contract, and that will probably be another hurdle to jump over. I hope that the house appraises for what we want to pay for it. It should, but I've heard horror stories.

    We know there have been some disputes about easements, and land use around the property we are trying to buy, so we are also going to do some research on the title, and if we get the property we are going to have all of the property lines re-marked. The property is surrounded by public forest land, so we want to make sure there aren't any restrictions about what we do on our land. We'll have to buy a million NO Trespassing signs, and have excellence fencing. The good news is I have 3700 acres of trail ride and hiking at the end of my driveway :-D and husband will have hunting and fishing. The land and location is worth fighting for to us, so we are willing to put up with extra hassle.

    Our property is fenced with barbed wire, so I'm putting aside money to redo the fencing before we bring the horses home. I'll also need to improve the existing shelters (no barn, but we will build one down the road), and improvise hay storage until we can build a hay storage area.

    I wish there was a barn or the property was set up for horses, but the land and the location is perfect. I'm already stressing about barns, and pasture layouts, etc. :-)

    Not sure if that helps you at all, but I can emphasize at what you are going to go through!
    Last edited by LovelyBay; May. 19, 2013 at 07:52 PM. Reason: more info
    Foaling Around www.facebook.com/foalingaround
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 25, 2011
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    So California
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    I sent you a message.



  4. #4
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    Feb. 25, 2011
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    So California
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    I sent some of this info in my PM, but I'm still thinking about it so here are more ideas:

    Price. Look at everything in your price range.

    Water. Check out what is available, city water, well, holding tank with water delivery. If you are going with a holding tank, really investigate that thoroughly, including cost of monthly water, cost of installing water storage, and whether the city or county allow you to live on a property without a well or city water.

    Sewer. If you are on a septic, get an inspection and make sure it is rated (size wise) for your use. Also, get prices on replacing it.

    Electric. Verify there is electricity available. If it is not hooked up, get actual quotes for the cost of doing so.

    Gas. It's nice to have natural gas available.

    Zoning. Find out about zoning and how many horses are allowed. Don't take the realtor's or seller's word; actually contact the county or look at their website. If you are looking at land, check out restrictions, like HANS reports and such, which can interfere with full use of your land.

    Access to horse facilities, trails, etc. I think this is really important, but at least consider your needs.

    Commute time. Pretty obvious, I probably didn't need to mention, but just in case, check on rush-hour commute times. Also, notice your access/egress in relation to traffic; do you have to turn left at an uncontrolled intersection against heavy traffic to get out in the morning? Add that to your commute time.

    Future Development in area. Depending on what is needed, and what is or is not happening in future growth, this could greatly influence your decision.

    Legal Access. I discovered in my own search that many likely-looking properties did not have deeded access. This can be a problem if you are getting financing, but check with your lender.

    Cost of facilities which you will need. I really underestimated the cost of good horse fencing. Get some actual estimates. Also, if you will be building any structures, be sure to include the substantial costs of permits and fees, as well as engineering reports, HANS reports, etc.

    Space. Don't forget to factor in storage space for things like a horse trailer and hay storage.

    Good luck!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb. 20, 2013
    Location
    Pennsylvania
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    Tip: Don't work with Wells Fargo. I have consistently had terrible experiences with them. I'm just one person in one place but it's my understanding they are trying to do too much with too few staff.

    What is just written above it very important stuff. Especially never trust someone's descriptions of what the property is "good for" because they don't have the burden of accuracy. I once looked a lot that was "perfect" but turned out to be 80% within a flood plain where even putting fencing was questionable by the municipality. Rights-of-way are another hidden gem.

    I agree with doing the home inspection as soon as practical.

    I empathize with a struggling seller but ultimately nobody can afford a bad deal, especially in this market. Hold your ground and let reality sink in for them.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 11, 2007
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
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    Ditto all of the above.

    1. Wells Fargo must stink, in all aspects. I worked PT for the local agent that insures my home and autos. Wells Fargo was the second worst bank for not releasing escrow payments on time. On more than one occasion, I was on the phone asking where in the h**l is the homeowner's money for the insurance premium? It always ended up, WF (WTF might be better) would have to spend extra money over-nighting a premium check to our office.

    2. I lived in Riverside County for five years, between Sun City and Hemet. The property I bought was already established in a horse-friendly development. The Seller had put up 5' chain link fence and my horses did very well in it.

    3. Earthquake Insurance - oh boy oh boy oh boy

    3.1 There were two types of sand in the area, I bought my house. One type would "roll" easily if there was an earthquake, the other one would not. I lived in the "would not".

    Be sure to check for that possibility if earthquake insurance is required these days. I lived out there from 1998 thru 2003. It was not a requirement in my area, so I didn't buy it ---- not when the cheapest I could find had a 35K deductible!

    Once you find property to where you have serious interest, you honestly might want to consult a reputable real estate attorney before signing on the dotted line. I know that will be an expense but it will be a cheap expense, in the long run, to know the property you want can be developed into everything you want for horses.

    I have never in my life seen so many micro "you can't do this" rules as exist in SoCal.

    Good luck in your search



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 21, 2010
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    2,204

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    Quote Originally Posted by LovelyBay View Post
    Lots of adult beverages!!
    Amen to that. I thought house hunting was supposed to be fun, but it turned out to be the biggest headache in the world.
    One problem I did not see coming was that we were ready to close when the property appraised for $35k less than what the agreed upon price was, therefore my mortgage co wouldn't cover it. Entirely due to lack of comps in the (rural) area and the poor housing market (lots of foreclosures!). So I had to come up with the extra $35k or walk away from the house.

    Other posts have covered the biggies, and I'm not familiar with CA.
    I think what you're looking for is quite personal and entirely depends on what you're willing and able to put into it. My search relied upon the property already having a move-in ready house with no remodel/upgrade requirements and either an existing horse-ready barn or existing horse-ready fencing. I found a place with a barn but fencing that needed to be entirely replaced and spent months fixing the barn up a bit (to my liking) and putting in the horse friendly fencing before I was able to bring my horses home.
    Fencing is critical if you're going to be getting goats. I think I saw the quote on here that "if your fence can't hold water, it can't hold a goat".

    And overestimate everything, money and time wise. Over 8 months in and I think I finally have finished most of my "critical, must be done ASAP" projects. Now time to start on the "critical, should be done ASAP" projects. Sigh.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 8, 2007
    Location
    Maryland
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    Have a good buyers agent. I am under contract on a property and my agent is fantastic. She helped us through the purchase of our first home and knew exactly what we had to do when. Our current contract is a short sale and has a bit of damage but she and our home inspector have a lot of experience. The leaky windows are getting replaced under warranty!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2003
    Location
    Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
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    All I can say, as we are in the middle of a refinancing dance, start collecting pay stubs, tax records, bank statements, DNA samples, an extra child to sacrifice--the banks are requiring a staggering amount of paperwork to prove you have $$ and means to repay that loan.

    Check out your neighbors, ask questions, go in with open eyes and a cynical outlook...be able to read between the lines and don't get "barn blind" about a property. Bad neighbors suck.

    Good luck--I love having horses at home, but kiss spur-of-the-moment trips/nights out goodbye! Spontaneity and horses in your backyard don't mix well.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Whidbey Is, Wash.
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    I guess my only input is to find finished property. Yes, it's more expensive, but building is (forgive me :lol) expensiver! Unless you have some serious help in the form of LABOR, because that's the killer.

    A for example: DH and I have our "in town" house for sale. DH and I want to move off the island in the next three years, renting between now and then. DH has very specific ideas on what he wants. I have specific ideas on what I want. They are not the same (duh) but since when do two horse people agree on ANYTHING? Especially when one has a Wyoming ranch hand upbringing and the other has a PC one? Anywho. He wants ABCD and I want WXYZ. We have compromised to ABYZ. He wants to build, even though I have lamented the cost of purchase plus construction until my eyes bleed. He says he can do quite a bit of the building, which he can, and my Dad has said he will come help as he has put up a LOT of buildings (second career as a contractor), so there is that.

    But I come down to bottom line. Purchase plus construction. Every.single.time.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 25, 2011
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    So California
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheJenners View Post
    I guess my only input is to find finished property. Yes, it's more expensive, but building is (forgive me :lol) expensiver! Unless you have some serious help in the form of LABOR, because that's the killer.

    A for example: DH and I have our "in town" house for sale. DH and I want to move off the island in the next three years, renting between now and then. DH has very specific ideas on what he wants. I have specific ideas on what I want. They are not the same (duh) but since when do two horse people agree on ANYTHING? Especially when one has a Wyoming ranch hand upbringing and the other has a PC one? Anywho. He wants ABCD and I want WXYZ. We have compromised to ABYZ. He wants to build, even though I have lamented the cost of purchase plus construction until my eyes bleed. He says he can do quite a bit of the building, which he can, and my Dad has said he will come help as he has put up a LOT of buildings (second career as a contractor), so there is that.

    But I come down to bottom line. Purchase plus construction. Every.single.time.
    This. Even though prices are going up, it is still cheaper to buy pre-existing than to build from scratch, unless you are really doing a lot of it yourself. I am facing that with raw land and although I absolutely love my lot and don't regret buying it, the reality is that I could have found something useable right now for way less than building new.

    I also second this suggestion by Calvincrowe:

    Check out your neighbors, ask questions, go in with open eyes and a cynical outlook...be able to read between the lines and don't get "barn blind" about a property. Bad neighbors suck.
    Not only will you learn about the neighbors themselves, but they will often tell you things about the area or the property that is very valuable, good or bad. For instance, I learned from my neighbor that the property bounding the lot I was looking at was being deeded over to the county and would be added to the existing county park, which means that one side of my lot will never have development and I will be able to access the park directly. There is no way I could have discovered that without talking to the neighbor, not that the info wasn't out there somewhere, but I wouldn't have known to ask, and the listing agent was from another county and knew nothing about the area and less about the lot.


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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2003
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    Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
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    I live within the boundaries of a National Scenic Monument--the Columbia River Gorge. This means that development is severely restricted, and land-use laws are mind-boggling along with permitting building can take years....I knew this going in, but the land next to us is for sale. Anyone who has looked at the acreage next to us has learned..sometimes painfully and expensively, that you probably aren't going to build that execu-mansion or subdivision and yup, you have to "farm" it..oh, and if you ask me (your neighbor) you'll learn that there is limited water, a salmon producing creek that you will not be able to access in any way, and yeah, it is freakishly windy. That's why you talk to the neighbors first.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!



  13. #13
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    Apr. 2, 2009
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    North Carolina
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    My biggest advice is take your time until you find what you REALLY REALLY want. I have been looking for two years. I have just now signed a contract on land that is so much more wonderful than anything I ever thought I could own.

    I will be building a house, but the property is already fenced well, is gorgeous pasture, and at the end of my driveway will be living the fencing contractor I bought it from -- complete with all his gear, LOL! It's also connected to endless trails, has a trainer next door (who is a big client of my farrier) w/ arena and jumps and both neighbours keep an eye on horses, etc.

    I literally cannot purchase a property of the same quality for less than I will spend on mortgage + construction (including well/septic). The only other thing I will have to build is 1 shelter.

    But again, this took me a loooooong time and many head explosions to find and make a deal on. And I have a very hefty down payment to keep the bank happy through construction. I at least have the luxury of being able to make decisions the way I want since I am building it for me and my boys.

    When in doubt, buy more beer.


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  14. #14
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    Mar. 1, 2013
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    142

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    I will highly agree that for land you really need someone who is experienced in selling land, thank god I had a good agent. I bought my first piece of property knowing nothing, but my agent put in the paperwork that water was to the property along with electric. NEITHER one was, I got the land for a song becuase the price to run it all was huge. I spent a ton putting it in but oh well.
    If you buy land and you know anyone who has large equipment bribe them any way possible. Clearing land for horses or to run electric/water to the horses is very expensive. For me it was more than the darn mare motel itself.


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  15. #15
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Alabama
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    Check for zoning, easements, and cost of utility installation. When I lived in NM, utility installations were hideously expensive, because the utilities charged for everything to do with installation, and that included extra light or power poles, or telephone lines. This was before cell phones were commonly available, and I knew people that had to get landlines for work, and getting a phone was a major installation cost.

    Do you have your own driveway? And does it have road frontage to a good road? Is the property zoned for any business use you might want to do? Is there a limit on the number or types of animals you can have? Are there wetlands or other environmental restrictions? Do you have access to the vet, hay, feed, and other suppliers you want to use? Check with the neighbors about the property, and any problems you should know about, plus call the sheriff's department and ask about crime rates, and how often they come in the area. How's the drainage? Do you need flood insurance? How old is the septic tank? How old is the wiring, plumbing, and how old is the physical structure, such as the roof, and windows. Will the current electrical service support your needs? Is there enough room for hay and other deliveries?
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
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    The rocky part of KY
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    If you buy a place with a tear down DO NOT TEAR IT DOWN, not in CA, at least not right away. The very existence of the structure and the electrical hookup and the water rights and the septic may be the only thing that let you put in a new home, with electric, water and septic.
    Also you may find there is a limit on animal units per acre - if you can find out when the grandfather period was, when they made the rule to limit, and establish that you had more animal units (horses are usually 2) then sometimes you can keep that many - and sometimes the grandfathering goes away once the place is sold too.

    Never believe the realtor. Apologies to all good farm realtors out there, but realtors don't work for Planning and Zoning or the Building Dept. and those guys are the ones that will say yes or no.

    Vacant land, is sometimes vacant for a reason. Won't perc, no water, whatever.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


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  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb. 25, 2011
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    So California
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReSomething View Post
    If you buy a place with a tear down DO NOT TEAR IT DOWN, not in CA, at least not right away. The very existence of the structure and the electrical hookup and the water rights and the septic may be the only thing that let you put in a new home, with electric, water and septic.
    This is so true. You can save tens of thousands of dollars by keeping at least one wall and following the original footprint of the house, thus qualifying your project as a remodel rather than addition or new construction. I think the minimum cost in Riverside County for new construction is around $25,000. I'm talking just fees and permits to the county, not other costs. So if you are remodeling and not adding square footage outside of the original footprint, the cost goes way, way down. I know someone who bought a new modular home and had to pay that much to the county to bring it in and place it onto a permanent foundation. Be sure and talk to the building/permitting department to educate yourself.


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  18. #18
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    Oct. 9, 2002
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    Southern California
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    Some GREAT tips, thank you SO MUCH! Things I would never think of. We may or may not be in position to do this as soon as this summer...but if we do, you've definitely educated me! Thank you!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep. 27, 2000
    Location
    Southern California - on a freeway someplace
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    As other have said, don't believe the realtor about how many of what species you can keep. Also don't believe them about dedicated trails (it's not fun when your only access to a public trail system turns out to go through what turns out to be privately-owned or controlled land and the access gets cut off).

    Check out the public riding areas at busy times. How crazy does it look? Talk to people about how well stuff is maintained. Or not. What happens when it rains? Do the rings get sealed? If they get closed, is the person with a the key a city employee who won't be out to re-open the ring until Monday even if it's perfectly rideable bright and early Saturday morning.

    Access. Ideal is that you can drive a vehicle from the street to the part of the property where the horses live. Without letting any horses, dogs, or other critters out. Not bad is having to access the horse part off a wide trail that is drivable except when it's wet. Especially if you're dealing with the second scenario, how much food can you store. Will the feed store be able to deliver without letting animals out if you aren't home. Is there a decent place for a shoer and vet (with electricity) to work? Can they access the property if you aren't there? You wouldn't believe some of the stuff I've seen. People who had to haul hay by the bale through their side and back yards and then down to then barn on slides. This person also had no way to walk a horse to the street from the barn and had to walk the horse down a trail, across a street, and over to a public stable every time she wanted to haul her horse (her trailer lived at the stable). I've had to walk through people's garages to get to their horses in the back.

    Speaking of that trailer, is there a place to park it.

    If you have a ring in your backyard, IMHO square is better than rectangular for the same square footage if that square footage is relatively small. Narrow isn't good.

    Dust. It's inevitable. But there are setups that will keep some of it from drifting up from the barn and settling on every available surface in your house. Some distance from the house helps. So do trees or bushes. If the barn is downhill from the house that will help with the dust but may make it less likely that you have access from the front to the back.

    Even if you aren't going to buy now, start looking and figuring out what you do and don't like.
    The Evil Chem Prof


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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2002
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    Southern California
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    We'll be checking out our first property either today or this weekend. What blows is it doesn't have facilities--but it IS in a horsey neighborhood (several neighbors have barns, rings, etc.), and it's a HUGE chunk of land. Well, huge for SoCal--nearly 2 acres, at least one of which looks very usable (the rest is straight down a hill). It's a fixer-upper, but that means the price is quite a bit under what our range is. I'd hate the headache of adding facilities, but it is tempting.

    What stinks is it HAS a huge barn--that was converted to a garage! BOOOOOO.

    It has a septic system. Seems a lot of these older properties with larger lots around here have those. How much of a pain is it?



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