Two things of concern here...first, never assume that parents who need care can easily be cared for on the second floor of a house. They may be mobility-impaired and stairs might be a problem. You'd have to see if you could put in a lift, or some way to help them upstairs. I'm 58, and am so glad that my house is all on one level. I'll be even more thankful for no stairs when I'm 78, or 88.
The other thing is the shared driveway. If there is a shared driveway, your deed AND the neighbor's deed MUST have the shared driveway easement recorded. There may be a separate driveway maintenance agreement in place too. If your deed doesn't have the driveway easement mentioned, then the title company your lender is using will have to do a title search on your land, and the neighbors, and you want your seller to get that driveway easement in place with the neighbors BEFORE the property transfers to you. If either property is mortgaged, the title company will have to work with both mortgage lenders (yours and the neighbor's) to clear the title and get the driveway easement in place. If you don't, depending on whose land the driveway is on, the owner of that land has every right to not allow you to trespass. Also, if there is a shared driveway, and no easement is recorded on the deed, the title company may refuse to offer title insurance on that portion of the property.
All of the above comes from personal experience. Shared driveways are common, but they just have to be treated correctly on the deeds.
One thing I have learned in two years of searching -- if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. An easement is VERY important. People move, people die, things change and a lack of a legal easement can make a property worthless. Sellers ALWAYS want to sell and generally ALWAYS "love you as the new owner." (I used to feel special, sigh)
After a few 'almosts' I made a rule: DO NOT FALL IN LOVE UNTIL IT'S ON PAPER. Always do your due diligence in painstaking detail. Because once you close, it's all on you and anything and everything is now YOUR problem and will require YOUR money.
One year ago, the spouse and I did exactly what you are considering - sold our regular suburban house and bought a home on horse property and moved my horses to our backyard from a boarding stable. I'm just a few miles away from you, so your expenses will likely be similar to mine. Property taxes are now over $10K a year, vs $2.5K at the old house. Water bill is triple, trash is $225 monthly for the big manure dumpster, home insurance is higher. A gardening company takes care of the general yardwork and it costs twice as much as our former house, but there are additional chores like spraying round-up on weeds and pulling weeds and tree saplings that are my responsibility.
Between my job, yardwork, house work and horse work (and we don't even have kids), I don't often have the time or energy to ride so even though I have a good-sized riding ring in my yard as well as a lovely park behind the house with an arena, I rarely ride. Plus, the older horse totally freaks out if left alone, so I can't leave my backyard without taking both horses.
I recently had a serious illness and wasn't able to take care of the horses for a few weeks. While it was easy to find friends and neighbors who would come by and feed, it was just about impossible to find anybody who was willing to clean stalls at any price. My poor husband would get home from work at 8pm and take off his suit and put on jeans and a headlight and scoop manure. He never complained, but the horses are my hobby and not his and I felt very guilty that he was working hard when he should have been relaxing.
If horses are your only hobby, it helps. The majority of your spare time is spent at home doing horse and yard chores, and usually alone. Boarding was much cheaper, simpler and more convenient, and I miss the companionship of my friends at the barn.
There are some other considerations like dust control that didn't occur to me beforehand. I had to bring in new sand ($) and have sprinklers installed around my ring which I sprinkle 1-2x daily to prevent big clouds of dust from blowing around our house and the neighbors' homes
It's nice having the ponies at home, but the total costs of a new home with horses are high and the work is very time consuming. I don't mean to be the voice of gloom, but it's a huge commitment for you and also your family, so make sure you are totally comfortable with all these considerations before you make a decision.
Last edited by Sarabeth; May. 28, 2013 at 12:36 PM.
Wow, great advice again! I want to make sure ALL bases are covered before such a big decision is made, and I appreciate your insights into the less rainbows-and-magic aspects. (What, no unicorns either? )
pony4m, HOPEfully it'll be a while before parents need to move in. But, if and when they do, we'd give them the main level. The home is built on a hill, so the main entry is actually the upper level. The kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and family rooms are all there. The other bedrooms and bathrooms are downstairs--it'd make sense for us to take those. Again, that's a lonnnnnnng way down Conjecture Alley, but at least for now that's what we're thinking.
I have been convinced the easement is a must. FWIW, there is a path down to the horse facilities that's good size, but there's no getting a vehicle larger than a small tractor down it. Worst coming to absolute worst, I'm wondering if a tractor could haul hay down there. Horses could be led up the hill (it's not that steep) to a parked trailer up in the driveway. Vets, livestock disposal ( had to go through that already), etc. would be more complicated.
wildlifer, I completely agree. I've been burned twice before falling in love with a property too soon, so while I am eager, I'm NOT letting emotion sweep in this time. Nuh-UH. We like it--but we're waiting and seeing jusssst what unfolds. And there's a LOT left to unfold!
Sarabeth, you offer a balanced, sane perspective--and that's very valuable. Forgive me for asking, but do you regret buying horse property?
We have budgeted for the increase in utilities (and I asked point blank what the bills were--the owner looked them up on her smart phone so the numbers were accurate). The property tax increase--yeah, that blows. It is a LOT to consider.
I think it would help to know just how much time and energy I'm already putting into my horses. They are at a 100% self care backyard barn--when waterers (that we bought and installed) break, we fix them. When pipe corrals (some of which we bought and installed) bend, we adjust them. When rain is coming, we bring in the DG (and hubby installs it) as well as hang tarps (that we buy) and place railroad ties (that we buy). We order hay (that we select and buy), organized the manure disposal (and pay the trash bill), repair broken locks, place and move stall mats (that we buy), and then of course all the regular blanketing, putting on/taking off fly masks, feeding, stall cleaning, grooming, worming, turning out...and oh yeah, riding. Really--it's like we already have our own horse property, we just don't get to OWN it.
I pay someone to feed the horses in the morning as it's too difficult swinging by to feed before work, but every day--EVERY day--we swing by in the afternoon to feed the horses and clean stalls (and often, turn out), etc. Some days, I go on my own for some blissful, quiet just-me-and-horses time. Some days, I pick up my youngest son from school and he sits in the truck in the shade with the windows rolled down about 20' away from me while I feed and clean (he comes with me sometimes, if I'm not letting them out to graze while I do barn chores). Other times, I pick up both sons and they take care of their mini before playing in the dirt with their trucks while I turn my riding horse out or lunge him in an arena with the boys in clear view (I often dress them in red, yellow, or orange, heh). If it's just my eldest with me, sometimes he'll take care of his mini while I lunge, tack up, then ride. Sometimes, we all four go as a family, and the boys get leadline rides on my boy.
One or two or three or four of us are at the barn every single day. Still--I much, MUCH prefer it to full care board. We've been doing the self care thing since 2004, with an 18mo gap starting around 2008 when my father passed away and then I was pregnant. While it was nice my mare was fed, cleaned, and turned out in my absence, I hated not seeing her every day. As much work as this is, I love it. LOVE it. Although--I will say driving over to the barn and doing the who's-feeding-after-work-today dance is tiring, and I yearn to just walk out the door and feed them, enjoy them (riding or otherwise), and go back in and enjoy Home. I yearn for them to be more a part of the family than they are.
If it doesn't work out, so be it. But looks like we'll be making a Hail Mary offer on the home in the next week or so. That will come after another visit and more homework, of course. We shall see.
Oh there is a unicorn on my property, but you can only see his horn when he lets you. ;-)
It's funny that you mention the work you already do, because this was one of the BIG drivers to buying my property. I already pay for my own feed, manage my own pasture, maintain my shed, do some mowing, take care of other equipment, etc etc etc. So all I am really buying with my board money is someone carrying feed to the horses in the mornings. And, same as you, I love doing things for my horses. I will stay at the farm all day on weekends. Hammering on t-post caps. Fixing buckets. Whatever. But my house and stupid yard look like crap, LOL. Because the horses aren't there.
So for me, I will be cutting out the extra driving and otherwise only a little will change. I am fortunate in that my mortgage payment will actually be the same and I will be paying LESS taxes -- but I have lived in SoCal and have family there, so I totally know what you mean, it is definitely a unique situation!
We're having a second walk through on the property today. If it makes sense to us, we'll be putting in that offer in a few days. I'm both excited and terrified, as I suppose I should be.
Heh, to give you an idea of how and who I am--school (I'm a teacher) ended early today. I chose to drive straight to the barn, change clothes, and sit in the shade eating a snack while my horses graze around me. I've scattered carrots on the property, so they're strolling about, noses to the ground, on their kind of Easter egg hunt. It's too hot to ride, and really, I don't have time as in an hour I'm picking up my son before going on the walk through.
I could have gone shopping, gone home for TV or a nap, cleaned house, or done a myriad of other things. Instead, the only place I could think to go was here--and I am so very content just sitting in the shade and watching, listening, breathing them in.
(The less glamorous stall cleaning and feeding await, but it's so very worth it.)
Can't hurt to make the offer, they might accept. On the other hand, think with your head and not your heart. Don't buy more than you can afford, especially if some unplanned expense cropped up in the future. Make sure the DH is fully on board, you don't want a resentful hubby later on if things went bad with the farm or finances. Make smart choices that factor the future not just the present.
I love that you're getting the easement before proceeding. Is the house zoned for multifamily living? Some places it really isn't, and that can be a problem. A friend just bought a place with a full mother-in-law suite in the basement, and then they found out that renting the basement out was against code without a lot of expensive renovations, and the HOA is enforcing rules against this anyway. I think it's one thing to live with family on the top floor, but would that be uncomfortable with a friend living there, or a regular tenant? Is there anyway to put a living room and eat in kitchen on the lower level? That way the house could really be separated to give maximum privacy to both floors.
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.
Most people look at properties on weekends or after work, when traffic is light and restrictions aren't in effect. Then they try to actually go to work from the property they bought, and have a really rotten surprise.
And goats are really hard to contain/fence, and a supreme pain in the ass. They're just so active and omniverous.
Drainage, drainage, drainage.
Last edited by nightsong; Jun. 15, 2013 at 06:14 AM.
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