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Question regarding building vs. no mortgage

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  • Question regarding building vs. no mortgage

    Ok I am ready to throw in the towel and sell and find a smaller place because I just.cannot.do. all. the work. here anymore.

    Background: Built new house and stable in 1987, tornado came along in 1991 and destroyed everything right down to the ground. Had to rent a place to live and took a year to clean up the property. Began in 92 rebuilding barn, paid cash while fighting insurance company..ugh..settled with ins. company in 96 on the eve of the jury trial next day for amount I originally asked for so barn came along a little faster then. 1800 sq. feet is house, and 1400 square feet is barn for my horses.

    Have paid cash for everything up to this point. Still working on house. No mortgage.

    Would you sell and buy smaller place (this one is 32 acres) I have 3-5 horses at any given time, mostly 2-3, and use proceeds to pay cash for 10 acres and a house and barn, or would you take a mortgage on present property to pay for finish work (laying tile, remodeling kitchen, etc.).

    The biggest portion of the work is done, but it's the things like laying tile, finishing the sheetrock, etc. that are killing me. I have to hire out everything that takes more than one person to complete. Pastures are ok, board fence, I just finished my dressage arena and put a four board fence around it (it is large size), but there are so many things that need completing that I can hardly stand it anymore.

    What would you do. Currently I have little debt, truck and trailer and land paid for, all work on Harn is paid in cash, fencing is paid for, etc. If I take a mortgage I am terrified that I will lose my job and my farm (bought in 1986 and I've done all the clearing and grading myself) and have made the original place look 100 times better - though nothing like a "showplace".

    BTW - I am single, supporting a son in sophmore year of college and my job isn't that secure, but neither is anyone else's where I work (telecom).


  • #2
    I think that you would have deep regrets if you sold
    Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

    The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”


    • #3
      There are tax benefits to having a mortgage, but having a place paid off is priceless. However, from an asset protection standpoint having a home free and clear can be worse then owing $$ on it.

      Moving is hard. Really hard. Try and decide if finishing your house is harder then moving and starting all over. Are the improvements you still need to do absolutely necessary? Can they wait until you do them one by one with cash?

      I think the thing you most need to avoid is any feeling of being terrified. Do what you need to do to feel secure.


      • Original Poster

        That is what I have been doing for ten years, put in all new windows (Anderson double paned, paid cash, installed myself with help from a hired hand), and now am trying to install Hardiboard siding by myself..I look at the project and want to despair of ever getting all that siding up - I buy enough to do a weekend's worth at a time so it isn't just lying around, but 3200 sq. feet does seem overwhelming. I have bought enough tile to do five rooms of the house, am waiting for winter to do that.

        Just seems I am going to be 100 before I get this house finished and not to mention, all the upkeep bills that come in - am going to have to replace the shingles on the harn before winter and will have to hire that job done (labor only).

        I am getting very discouraged when every weekend and week night it isn't raining is spent working after working all day long - not to mention I am 50 this year so things are getting a mite more difficult (ladders and bending/stooping).

        I would hate to sell but sure would be nice to come home everyday to 1/2 the grass to mow and only maintenance to do at my age.


        • #5
          It sounds like you would love to come home to a smaller place that is already nice, and just put your effort into maintining it. Look around and see what you can find. You may find just what you always dreamed of.


          • Original Poster

            I would probably have to move across the state line into Alabama to find what I am looking for as there is a sad lack of farmettes here, mostly subdivisions and very few large tracts of land remaining. I and my neighbor have the largest tracts left on our 7 mile road, the rest is subdivisions, etc.

            I would regret though losing my dressage trainer, he comes to me three times a week to ride my horse and I take one lesson a week - this is my only luxury - everything else goes toward paying for the remodeling expenses and sending the child through college.

            I do think I would be happier without so much to upkeep plus the additional work on the harn, if I had an spare 50,000 I could finish everything at once and be done and enjoy the place. Right now though unless I borrow it, that is just wishing.


            • #7
              In this economy I would be careful of overimproving your current home. Is it saleable as is, or will you have to finish it anyway before selling?

              Have a realtor come by for a chat. Perhaps if you were able to sell, you could build a smaller place, on less acreage. Can you sell some of your acreage - and use that money to hire a contractor to finish your house and stay there? That would give you less property to maintain as well.

              I would hesitate to take a mortgage. And it sounds like a lot of barn and space for a couple of horses.


              • #8
                At a minimum, I'd look at what would have to be done to make the property saleable - not dream perfect, but a house that someone could move into without immediately feeling as if they had to rip out the whole kitchen. (Has the kitchen not been finished? or is it just not the current-about-to-become-yesterday granite and stainless? are the floors just bare plywood now? or is it that tile would be easier to clean than what is in there now?) and then figure out how much I'd have to pay to hire someone to do most/all of it, get an equity-line-of-credit established (that's one in which you draw down and pay interest on only what you need at any given time), and get it done.

                Then figure out if you want to stay and continue slowly improving or if it is ok as is or if you really want a smaller, easier to care for, place. If you do decide to move, your house will be ready to put on the market. If you do decide to stay, you've moved closer to completion.

                It is exhausting to try to make everything be perfect - even more so I imagine if the first pass went up in a funnel cloud.
                Nevertheless, she persisted.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sidepasser View Post

                  I would hate to sell but sure would be nice to come home everyday to 1/2 the grass to mow and only maintenance to do at my age.

                  Well, that speaks volumes.

                  What you seem to be saying, in essence, is that you can't do the work anymore and you're constantly bleeding cash. That's cash that's not being put to work for you (in investments).

                  Instead of going round and round in your head and fretting, do this. Work backwards from your goal.

                  Determine your goal.

                  Your goal appears to be to have a life that isn't ruled by never ending chores that you have to do yourself or hire out. You don't seem happy, but you do want horses in your life.

                  Hiring out means the money you spend isn't working for you - for your future.
                  Mortgaging the place for the cash means you acquire debt at an age where you have little time left to pay for it, and you STILL have to do all the chores even if the place is fixed up. The tax deduction is never going to work in your favor. It's not a credit - just a deduction. You still have to come up with money every month - and will be paying that mortgage long after the work crews are gone and things break down, need painting, etc.

                  If you decide to sell, and with the cash purchase a place outright that is in move in condition - it's the best of both worlds.

                  You haven't acquired debt, and you have a smaller place that is less expensive to maintain, but you can still have horses. Not hiring things out means the money you're spending now can go instead towards saving and investing. Or, you may find that you still hire workmen, but it's more of a reasonable expense you can budget for.

                  The trick is making the numbers work. If your place can't sell for the price you want, and you'd have to acquire large mortgage on another place..... then you need to rethink your plan. And your risk tolerance, your personal finances and long term goals are also factors you need to consider. And you'll also want to know of any tax consequences of your solution - before committing to a particular course of action.

                  You have little to no debt now - and you know how that feels. Not many people do, which is a terrible shame.

                  Whatever choice you make - you need to run numbers. I think you have a picture in your head of what you want your life to be like - so now what you have to do is break your goal down into small, manageable pieces so you don't feel overwhelmed.

                  Hope that helps.

                  That hardipanel is a real bear, isn't it. I hate that stuff.
                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                  -Rudyard Kipling


                  • #10
                    I agree with bf1. Can you sell half your property and use the profit to finish your house?

                    Check into the zoning laws in your area to see if your section can be divided. Maybe it would be worth a shot.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WWYD? View Post
                      I agree with bf1. Can you sell half your property and use the profit to finish your house?

                      Check into the zoning laws in your area to see if your section can be divided. Maybe it would be worth a shot.
                      Ditto. Sell a piece, and use the money to hire to get it the way you want it.


                      • Original Poster

                        I would need to tile the floors, right now they are stained concrete. I also need to replace the roof (that's a given whether I stay or try to sell - it's older and needs new shingles).

                        The barn side of the Harn consists of a feed room, tack room, storage room that will soon be a stall, and two 12 x 12 stalls. A large aisleway. I just made shutters for the windows for the horses so I can close them during rainstorms. Added guttering to the house and also stuccoed the back of the house (I will NEVER do stucco again in life - lol) hardest job I have ever done.

                        Aisleway is brushed broom finish concrete, there is running water in the barn as well.

                        House side is 2 bedrooms (actually 3 but one turned into son's computer room), my office, a large (large) bathroom, and a kitchen. Just got a brand new range for the kitchen, counters are all stainless steel. I found a house that was being torn down and asked if I could have the beautiful cabinets and they said yes, if I would tear them out, got beautiful heart pine cabinets for free. Kitchen only needs to be sheetrocked on one wall and the tile laid. One wall is faced with block as I have a 1925 Sears real woodburning cookstove (and yes, I use it in the winter, it heats water and also has a warming oven and a bottom oven for cooking bread, cakes) and on the other side of the wall is my Fisher Big Bear wood heater that heats the whole house.

                        I have no a/c nor electric heat, so would have to install a heat pump. I live very plainly but as old age catches up with me, I find that turning a dial would be nice on those cold, rainy winter mornings.

                        Every room has a ceiling fan, the huge hall has two - the hall used to be an aisleway until I decided to turn that half into a house..so that is big enough for a living room.

                        Weird I know, but then again, having been through the 80's and worried myself sick about a job while watching all get laid off around me, it is comforting to know that if worse came to worse..I would be able to live here without worry of the bank taking it all away.

                        I can't sell part of the property as there isn't enough road frontage to allow another driveway, my house is almost a mile off the road. I could sell the back 20 to my neighbor, but they only offered 1/2 of what it is appraised for, so it is sell all or none. Place does have lots of prime timber though, would that be an option? Selling some of the timber (it hasn't been cut since 1968) and using that money to get the house finished? I don't know anything about dealing with timber companies and most of the timber is black walnut, beech, red oak, white oak and popular with that darned sweet gums added for scenery (useless things they are). A few cedars and pine. Place has clear running stream through the middle of property and two septic tanks (large ones) and lots of electric running here and there to make life easier. Chicken house with four runs, and fenced garden area of about 2/3 of an acre.

                        I was thinking that if someone young wanted a place mostly finished, it would be ideal. Also only 7 minutes from town and 2 minutes from the new KIA plant - alas at the end of my road, a new planned town will be built soon - with schools, etc.


                        • #13
                          That cookstove is worth a lot of money.

                          We've been looking at antique appliances - I saw one antique fridge that sold for 16,000.00 dollars.


                          When we were selling I didn't do anything to the house until I spoke with the realtor. She shut me up right quick and told me exactly what I needed to fix and not fix and exactly how to present the house.

                          I said, Yes Ma'am.

                          It sold a week later - while other places on the same block had been on the market for over a month. She priced it right - we walked away with what we wanted.

                          Have a realtor out - ask some folks in your area for a name. Talk to him/her and see what they think. No obligation, and you'll have more information to work with.
                          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                          -Rudyard Kipling


                          • #14
                            Well then, I see 2 options. One is to sell everything as is.

                            Or, cut some of the lumber, and sell the back 20 to the neighbor. It will still leave you with 12 acres. It will also reduce your taxes! Then take some of the money, and finish your projects.

                            You are the only one who knows if you want to stay put!


                            • Original Poster

                              Oh JSWAN - you would like my antique icebox - circa 1910..lol..I use it for storage. Actually almost everything in my house is prior 1940, including my antique claw footed humongous bathtub with the original fixtures.

                              I was born in the wrong era I know, should have been born around 1875..I'd probably have been pretty happy back then.

                              I'll contact a realtor friend of mine, but what do you think about the timber? Do you think selling that would net enough to get most of the work done (I know you haven't seen it) but is that an option and how do you go about finding out what it is really worth? I have trees that are so big around you can't reach around them and so tall you have to stretch your neck to see to the top of them. The pine was what was cut in 1968, they didn't touch the hardwoods.


                              • Original Poster

                                I also want to thank each of you for your input, sometimes a person gets so close to the forest, we can't see the trees. I will print out all your replies and go over them carefully, I don't want to get "taken" by the neighbor, but at the same time if I didn't have to maintain all that fenceline, that would be a relief in itself.

                                thanks y'all, it helps to get others perspective on things.


                                • #17
                                  At some point in your life, it is worth it to "trim the fat". Only you can decide just how much you would like to stay with what you have, or try to find something else. How much do you LOVE your home? The neighbor option - maybe counter offer and see if they come up some. See if they still want it after you would sell the timber.


                                  • #18
                                    Selling timber rights can produce some much needed income. I'm not up to speed on that anymore - I'd have to read up on what's going on these days. Maybe your state forester is a good contact person - he may know who is interested in your area.

                                    The danger is that they ruin the property value by clearcutting and leaving stumps and weedy growth, or they don't want to work on such a small parcel.

                                    But unless things have changed (and they may have so double check me) there was some interest and popularity in selective logging of small parcels using mules/oxen/horses. In my state - don't know about yours. Or there may be a local mill that has crews that work on small parcels.

                                    I'm insanely jealous of your appliances. I hate this modern stuff. I'm on the lookout for an old timey fridge that I can restore myself (they sell kits to restore these things)

                                    Sounds like you have a lot of options - it's just trying to make sense of them all that can make us fret.

                                    It seems you really love that place. Even with all the issues it has, do you really want something smaller? Or do you LOVE that home?

                                    ETA - I see Fairview and I had the same thought - about loving the place. There is really no price you can put on that.....
                                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                    -Rudyard Kipling


                                    • #19
                                      Debt sucks.


                                      • #20
                                        I am kind of where you are at. Or I have made the decision.
                                        I owned a beautiful 25 acre farm here in NH, and it just got to be too much. I felt I was constantly paying for help to keep the place going. And not cheaply either, and it wasn't done to what really needs to be done.
                                        Sometimes, I think, I pay this much money, and what really gets done.

                                        Ok, so I have chosen to move to SC, where I can find help to get things done.
                                        one is fencing...I will have solid perimeter fence put up...up here, my fence needs attention...badly.
                                        House, same thing, but I am doing the basics, and probably will hire a landscaper next summer to 'spruce' things up and put on the market.

                                        I just realized as a single woman, I could not do this place by myself anymore. Trees need to be cut, fields need mowing, weedwhacking in unmowable areas, etc, etc. Its just too big for me.

                                        So, I move to 15 acres, which will be totally usable. I have thought about saving money and not having the builder do as much. Having already built a house, I know certain things I don't/can't do, such as sheetrock.

                                        It is a tough decison, and kind of a lousy one too...getting too old to deal and manage the farm up here. Don't want to pay someone 20,000 to manage it, so...off we happily go to SC, and hopefully the living will be easier.

                                        As far as your timber, contact your state or county forester. Definitely have your own forester come in, mark the trees and negotiate the price with the logger. Do this before you sign any contracts, you will know what you get for your trees, plus, you can prescribe how you want the land to look when they are done. IE, stumped, york raked, etc. Of course that will bite into the profit, but still you are the boss! decisions are yours.

                                        It sucks getting older, running out of energy, and still have the horse passion.
                                        I know for me, making my life less dependent on others is huge.
                                        good luck.
                                        save lives...spay/neuter/geld