I’ve learned quite a few things from our property search. I thought I would jot them down, just in case this information can be helpful to someone else.
1) Find a good, local, realtor. You want someone that knows the ins and outs of the area you are searching for. Our realtor has given us a ton of great advice. We had our search narrowed down to a general area, but she was able to give us suggestions based on things that we would not have learned until we moved to the property. (One town we were interested in is rumored to be a giant meth lab. ACK!)
2. Save as much money as possible before your move. And then save some more. Seriously. DH and I only had mortgage debt before, and we got a pretty nice check from the sale of our house. However, rural loans are different than conventional loans. I wrongly assumed that our payments would be based on 20% down with a 30 year note. In reality, the bank wanted 30% down on a 20 year note. Also, the average interest rate for a land loan is about 2% higher than the interest rate on a conventional loan. Yikes!
3. Don’t get discouraged. We sent out three contracts to three different properties. I really liked both of the first two properties, and I could have seen us in either place. However, they didn’t work out. When we didn’t get the first place, I was bummed out. When we didn’t get the second place, I was really depressed. It was hard to find the motivation to keep looking. The third place we offered on felt like home as soon as we stepped on the land, but I didn’t let myself get attached emotionally to the place until the contract was signed, the ink was dry, and we checked out everything that could change our mind on the property. Now, I’m thankful and grateful that the first two properties fell through. This place has everything on our must have list, and almost everything on our wish list. It’s fantastic and the journey that we took to find it makes me appreciate it that much more.
4. Research, Research, Research, then Research some more. Research the schools, the town, the county, the laws, the churches, the people, the industries, the restaurants, the grocery stores, the streets, and everything else you can think of about the area you are interested in. Then when you find a property, research some more. You need to check if the property has mineral rights, surface rights, recent survey, appraisal, and flood plain data. Is the property accessible during all types of weather? Does it matter? What is your commute from the property? Are water, electricity, and septic on site? What type of septic is supported with the soil on the property? Has a perc test been done? Has a soil sample been done? Has the water in any ponds, creeks, or wells on the property been tested and deemed safe? Are there restrictions or zoning laws that are applicable to the property? Does the city, state, or county have plans to do anything major within a few miles of the property that will have an affect on your land? Are there any endangered species on your property that will force you to change the plans you have for the property (i.e. not cut down an area covered with trees)? Can you dig a well, get to water quickly? How deep is the top soil? Have chemicals been used on the land in the last few years that could interfere with your plans for an organic garden? Does anyone have any easements to the property? Has anyone started to encroach on the property? Have their been squatters there recently that could be hard to evict? Is there mail service, trash service, and internet service available? What is the closest fire department? Where is the closest hospital? You should also check out the property at different times of the day and night. What would happen if you finally found your piece of paradise and the “empty” barn next door is really the local salon that stays open every night until 4m? You cannot do too much research.
5) Time. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to look for your place. Everything takes longer than it should. If this is going to be a long term, forever, type of move, it’s worth it to take the time to make sure that you can get what you want to get. It’s easy to make mistakes when you are rushed.
6) Lastly – Soak up ideas from every place you visit. Open your mind to this new lifestyle. Take your time. Breath deeply. And, Enjoy the journey.