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Selling a house to buy a farm??

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  • Selling a house to buy a farm??

    Who's done it? How'd it work out? Looking for stories, advice, tips, tricks and all that COTH can give.

    DH and I live in town. I bought the house a month before we started dating, DH was renting property at the time. We now board three horses (and Odie the mini donk, who thankfully gets free room and board), and also pay to park our two horse trailers in barns at a different friend's farm. Is the time to sell my house a great time? No, it's not. But I didn't buy too high, been making mortgage payments for three years, my GUESS without seriously talking to an agent is we would take about $10-15k ding. This is based on a friendly acquaintance who is an agent and the prices I'm seeing.

    But our mortgage + board + trailer parking = a mortgage on a large farm. By large, I mean there are places within an hour's drive that are 40+ acres, home and barns (not stables, barns) that we could afford. DH is military and never bought/sold a house, so we could either go FDA or VA for the loan, meaning no double whammy from loss on this house and down payment.

    Yesterday we did a drive by on a farm, it's an old farm house with mega remodels and upgrades, and has three old barns. Current fencing around the house that we could see has cows and sheep in, so would keep horses in just fine...the rest of the acreage, not sure. No idea on barns on the inside. Mortgage would be less than our above costs by several hundred dollars a month.

    But how does it work? Fix the two or three things on the current house and put it on the market now? None of these fixes are expensive or time consuming; DH set fire to part of the porch that we JUST finished last month, and some of the kitchen counters need new whatever-you-call-the-colored-part put on where I ripped off two corners with my TASER holster. And the koi pond we installed needs some cosmetic stuff, all labor and maybe some top soil.

    We've both kept horses at home before (and I've been a BO and a BM), so we understand the labor part of the deal. Quite honestly, with boarding, we are LAZY. DH is napping on the couch right now and I had my eyes dilated and am playing vampire... We've worked at barns together, before we were even dating and now, so we know that neither of us is put off by horse work. House work...well, that's different.
    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

  • #2
    I say go for it - we did it in early 2008. I've got more to say, and I'll come back later tonight.


    • Original Poster

      PS: to add, we just painted the house in August, so that's out of the way. All new paint in 2009/2010 inside, some other upgrades, so the house really is ready to go on the market with the above repairs, a good gout cleaning, and some paint touch ups. I know paint is normally the big thing.
      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


      • #4
        Before you do anything but fix the porch, call a realtor for an honest assessment of selling price, and possibilities. And you can protect the counter by getting a big, plastic cutting board that will shield everything from chips (and when you get the counter repaired, or get other ones you don't want to chip those counters).

        And have the realtor run neighborhood comps. In the crazy market we have they will use foreclosures and short sales for comps, so you don't want to put it on the market, get another place under contract, and then find out everyone in lowballing the price and you'd have to pay a lot of money to sell it. And you already know to check the zoning and other rules on other properties you're interested in, so you don't get someplace, and can't use it for what you want to use it for.
        You can't fix stupid-Ron White


        • Original Poster

          Cutting board won't protect the corners. I snagged it and snapped off about three inches of the laminate type stuff, so the whole edge will need to be replaced. Shouldn't be a big deal, we just haven't done it because I'm clumsy and was destined to break off more (which I have), and we wanted to wait until right before it went on the market...
          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


          • #6
            Did it in '03. Well, the house sold in '04, we closed on and moved into the farm we built in late '03.

            I was paying board on 2 horses, though 1 was relatively cheap (separate barns). However, the mortgage on the new place was still cheaper than the old mortgage + 2 horses. BUT, that's because we paid cash for the land, and put a sizeable downpayment on the house we built.

            However, don't think that your cost comparison is just about the new mortgage. How does your current board work - is all hay and grain included? If not and you're paying extra for that, then that's fine. But if it is, add that cost into your "mortgage" for the new place.

            If you have substantial grazing, enough to take care of the horses for many months of the year, that helps a lot. But keep in mind I just spent $1000 on grass seed and fertilizer, so even grazing isn't free LOL
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              Consider whether or not you plan to stay in the area. You don't want to buy a farm and be transferred across the country a year later. A big farm may be hard to sell. In our area farmettes on 5 acres sell very easily. I wish we had more land, but at least I know that our place is marketable. 5 acres is enough for a few horses.


              • #8
                We did it a year ago and couldn't be happier. That said, the housing market was absolutely on fire at the time, and we sold our house for almost double what we had paid 5 years prior. That gave us the $$ for the downpayment on the farm plus extra for upgrades.

                Also, consider an actual appraisal rather than a valuation from a realtor. We had a realtor look at our house several months before we put it on the market ourselves, and the price she said she would list it for was very, very low compared to what we sold it for.
                Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                • #9
                  Get a closing estimate from your realtor. I think there is a better name, but what you are looking for is the spreadsheet that shows you what you actually net if you sell your house for $X.

                  Around here you will lose some of that sale money to realtor commissions, sales tax, transfer fee paperwork, seller paid closing costs (very normal in our area to pay 3%), paying 1/2 the title insurance, 1/2 closing fee, doc prep by title company, and so on.

                  On our house, for example, the transfer expenses were over $15,000 and we did not pay full realtor commissions (which are 6% total in our area). This is not 15k due to a decrease in value (just want to be clear) it is 15k just as the cost of "doing business" as a seller. We also had a modest home--under 200k. Just to give you an idea!

                  We sold our house so we were contingency-free to buy a farm. It almost meant buying a house in town when we couldn't find a farm and couldn't find anyone who would rent to us with two dobermans (I didn't even mention the two not-declawed cats when I would inquire). Make sure you have a fall-back plan if you sell without a contract on a farm. We were living with family for a month. (Ok we are still living with family as we gut the place).

                  We did sell our home for more than asking in one day, however! I credit it to newly refinished hardwood floors throughout the main (ranch) and an updated kitchen and bathroom upstairs. We had also rented a U-haul and stored a ton of our stuff off-site so our closets and basement didn't look full/cluttered. I would say our house in town was very Pottery-Barnish to give you an idea.

                  Finally, make sure you have enough money to buy the equipment you will need on the farm so your life isn't miserable (i.e. tractor, attachments, mower, etc.).
                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                  • #10
                    I did it last year. Love the farm. I've been building fences and cleared land and done a lot of things to the exterior of my property. Horses are home now and its great! Go for it...but I second getting realtor comps...
                    For things to do in Loudoun County, visit: www.365thingstodoloudoun.com


                    • Original Poster

                      We're definitely staying in the area. Even if DH gets moved, which probably won't happen, he retires in 2017 and I don't retire for another 23 years. So I like it here, I'm the one working, I got to pick.

                      We've been discussing it for a while, but this farm is super cute and we both liked it. And we're torn between it being a crappy time to sell and a great time to buy. DH is of the mindset of buy soon so we can use both incomes to qualify, I wanted to wait as long as possible on the off chance that he does get moved in his twilight tour so I'm not working FT (12 hr shift + drive) and dealing with the farm.

                      Our board includes hay, no grain. But they are individual turnouts about 1/4-1/2 acre, so no grass really. When DH and I were keeping three horses on his place, we bought a fall/winter/spring worth of hay that was, IIRC, about $2k, and in our last winter when we moved in May to the boarding facility, we brought almost a ton of hay with us left over. That was good orchard/alf mix, and only two of our current horses eat that (my horse gets the runs on anything other local grass hay, and the donk certainly doesn't need it). Even on small paddocks, DH's two mares only get three generous flakes a day between the two of them and my boys "share" a single flake of grass hay. No grain, they are all fat, we're lucky.

                      My concern I guess is how to work out selling one and buying another. What if the house sells quickly? Rent I guess. Or it can stay on the market forever, and we can watch farms we like come and go. I guess the logistics concern me about selling... TrotTrotPumpkin's post answered some questions, and I'm going to swing by and talk to an agent I know.
                      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


                      • #12
                        I also would strongly recommend getting an actual appraisal on the house you're selling prior to putting it on the market. I just bought a farmette that was reasonably worth the selling price, but it appraised for $55k LESS than that. So we were all stuck. Sellers had to come down in price, I had to come up with a larger down payment. Knowing what it will appraise for may help you with some last-minute stress, or a situation that will end the sale. The sellers were lucky in that I had the cash to make up the difference.


                        • #13
                          As a former broker, although it sure is fun to look, I don't think it's a great idea to look seriously until you are really close to having your house on the market. Look, but more with the idea to gain knowledge of prices/options available/features you like, before seeing yourself in the farm you're looking at.

                          Once your house is well under way, then is the time to look. Saves a lot of heartache. Done that before myself, and seen many buyers/sellers become sad they missed out/mad that the "looker" wasn't serious at the time. The best way to buy real estate is to be totally prepared to move. Also puts you in a better negotiating stance when the time comes. If you've been not quite ready, and talking about what might happen down the road - and do it too many times, you lose credibility, and can sour a seller whose place you really covet.

                          Also make sure, when you're selling, that as much as you dislike housework (I'm in your camp as well) that the house is immaculate when on the market. My siblings spring for cleaning ladies regularly, but the only time I have (rather than spend extra on horses!) is when my homes have been on the market. Having a cleaning person in regularly while it is on the market not only gives you help with the cleaning, but keeps you on track to keep it tidy daily. After the closing you can go back to what's important!!

                          And yes, by all means, listen to a good local realtor. Interview a few and ask each of them for a comparative market analysis to give you an idea of what you're likely to get for your current home. They'll also be able to tell you what you need to do to make your home marketable in your area. Then list with the one you feel comfortable with/knows the market, rather than someone who pressures you that you owe them anything. And don't necessarily go with the one who suggests the highest price, unless you feel by the information they've provided in their market analysis, that it is truly substantiated. Having your home overpriced is a real drag when you're trying to move on, and sometimes gives a house a reputation that "something is wrong with it". On the other hand, looking at farms, you'll see that they tend to stay on the market longer as, well, they're not for everybody!

                          Good luck!
                          But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


                          • #14
                            Jenners-guess that a cutting board wouldn't stop that, but I bet the edge was a little loose or it might not have snagged at all. Another thing to ask the realtor, is if in this market if the sellers pay all of the buyers closing cost, because unfortunately in a down market this is happening more and more. I am thinking of selling and moving much closer to town, but my realtor said that houses around here aren't appraising right, and because my move is optional, I should hang on here for a year or so.
                            You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                            • #15
                              While it is nice to sell high and buy low, if you can sell and buy on the same market, that should be ok anyway.

                              What is bad is when you sell on a low market and find out that, by the time you are buying, it has gone up considerably.
                              That is harder to finance.

                              I second the sell first and rent for a bit, if you have to, until you get what you want now bought.

                              Good luck!


                              • #16
                                We have been living in the burbs for the kids education...when we tried to buy a farm 18 years ago, the schools that catered to the country really sucked, so we stayed put. Now that the youngest has graduated, we finally listed our house in June.
                                I am sorry to say that after 4 months, we have not sold.
                                I know the market sucks, but we are 1) in a really nice neighborhood 2) the best schools in the county 3) the house needs nothing.
                                We have improved everything...new kitchen, bathrooms, floors, plumbing, etc. We have added on. We are on a big corner lot, dead end, quite neighbors.
                                We have had lots of interest, 2 offers. One offer, we found out the realtor steered the potential buyers to a more expensive home (she lied about our being serious for selling...wtf? why list then?) (found out straight from the potential buyer, she ran into my youngest daughter at the restaurant where she works).
                                Only thing I can think of is the house is one of the biggest in the neighborhood, yet priced below square footage going in the area, but still the most expensive home in our neighborhood. Also, since we are on a corner, most of our yard is to the front and side (newly sodded yard, beautiful old live oak and magnolia and azaleas). Our backyard consists entirely of brick pavers, with roses and shrubs lining the perimeter. Our dogs poop around the shrubs..make it easy to find the poop, and the patio makes for great entertaining, but I think it turns some people off not having grass out there.
                                We are removing the house from the market next week, as we don't want it to get stale or a stigma...nor do I want to show the house over the holidays. We will list again in February..when the azaleas are blooming, and with a different realtor...he has been going through some personal issues and I think it interferred with promoting our home. In this market, I want a realtor who will work hard to earn his commission. In this market, you have to.
                                When we had the one offer, we went out looking at farms. We need a smooth move..my husband works out of the house and wants to be able to pick up and move just once. I keep track of what is on the market through trulia and my realtor sends me listings. We have eliminated short sales and foreclosures since we need to be able to just move in as soon as we sell. One house we have our eye on has been taken off the market for not selling, it is vacant, and we have all the contact info...hopefully, when we do sell, we will be able to contact the owner and move right into that one.
                                God willing, by next summer, I will be living on my farm!
                                Lori T
                                www.facebook.com/LTEquine for product updates on the lines I rep


                                • #17
                                  Here's what I've found...

                                  If you want to sell your house really quickly?

                                  Then by all means, do not have a contract on a farm, or even know of one for sale. Ask a stupid amount for your house and agree to be out in 45 days.

                                  You'll sell your house in about 4 weeks. In the winter. You will have looked at every piece of property in three counties with more than 20 acres. You will cuss your real estate agent when the "horse property" is straight up hill. You will tell her after being hauled out to the 6th or 7th such property that unless she has slepped her fat butt from the front to the back and did not have to rest with oxygen, you are not interested in seeing it.

                                  In the nick of time, you will find, by accident, The Perfect Place. Meaning it has a house and 40 overgrown acres. You will spend $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ turning it into your dream farm.

                                  After 10 years, your dream will be much smaller and you will be looking at houses in Florida and buying the much smaller farm next door.

                                  Living the dream baby, living the dream.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by TheJenners View Post
                                    But our mortgage + board + trailer parking = a mortgage on a large farm.
                                    Overall I think your plan is great, but I'm just going to point out that your calculation is, erm, off.

                                    The correct calculation would be to compare:
                                    house mortgage + board + trailer parking versus mortgage on large farm + expenses and labor of owning a large farm.

                                    I'm sure you already know this because you ran a barn, but for the benefit of others who might be reading, the expenses of equipping and maintaining a 40 acre farm are quite significant. I'm tired, so I'm not going to list it all out, but by significant I mean potentially more significant than the mortgage itself. So anyone else here who is thinking of doing the same thing be sure you don't forget that. If you want to keep your horses at home, great, but boarding is usually cheaper than doing it yourself if you put any value on your own time/labor.

                                    Sorry, carry on.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      This is true, yes, but at the beginning we aren't going to value our time/labor, the same way we won't value labor while DH repairs the part of the deck he set on fire . After some time, when the facilities are set up, yes we will start to value it, but that's because DH's job after he retires will be to go back to being a cowboy.
                                      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


                                      • #20
                                        Around here, liability insurance requirements for the bigger ranches are that they don't hire, even as day workers, anyone over 65.
                                        You may keep that in mind.
                                        That has eliminated much cowboy work for those that retired from other jobs, other than with their own cattle and maybe the few that don't carry insurance, not many any more today.

                                        Of course, he can always do some "neighboring" for his lunch.