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Meeting with the realtor tomorrow....

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  • Meeting with the realtor tomorrow....

    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.

  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      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.
      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


      • #4
        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!


        • #5
          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!


          • #6
            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.
            If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


            • #7
              Farm Due Diligence

              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 -


              • #8
                *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 ) 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... 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?
                You jump in the saddle,
                Hold onto the bridle!
                Jump in the line!


                • #9
                  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.
                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                  • #10
                    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!
                    If you cannot set a good example, at least serve as a terrible warning....


                    • #11
                      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.
                      Last edited by JanM; Jan. 7, 2009, 03:05 PM.
                      You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                      • #12
                        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.
                        Anney Daugherty
                        Winsmore Farm


                        • Original Poster

                          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!!!!


                          • #14
                            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?


                            • #15
                              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


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by yellow-horse View Post
                                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)!!!!


                                • #17
                                  Working with a realtor

                                  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.


                                  • #18
                                    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!!


                                    • #19
                                      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.


                                      • #20
                                        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.