With all of that in mind I read with interest an article titled, "Finding Your Place" from the February/March 2003 issue of "Mother Earth News" (not highly impressed with the magazine, but it was free). The article was written by the editors of the magazine who have the knowledge of 24 separate, "house-buying and property-purchasing escapades". All in all it was a pretty interesting article, but as one would assume it dealt more with buying property with a house rather than bare land.
At this point we haven't decided on exactly whether we need to buy a place with a house on it or if we can handle just getting the land and then building. We have a couple of positives in that our families have experience building and have offered to help, but that does seem a bit overwhelming at times. Another way to look at the question is this ... what is more important, the land or a house? Because of the high land prices right now buying a 40 acre piece of land that has a livable house on it probably is out of price range, but if we could buy just the land and be creative in our housing (anybody living in a pole-building house?) maybe we could swing a 40 acre parcel ... if the right one came along.
Those are just some of the things that we are thinking about ... but, back to the article. Like any good magazine article they had "nine steps to success". Some of them are pretty basic, but are worthy of repeating just because they are sometimes overlooked in today's "I want it now" culture.
- Know your budget and stick to it.
- List your "needs and wants".
- Most importantly, ask lots of questions.
-Like I said ... that is a pretty basic rule, but in a culture where we want exactly what we want when we want it that is an important reminder.
-For us that is things like type of soil, lay of the land, amount of land, and other things. We have a clear vision of the direction we would like to go in our farming pursuit so it is important to find land (or access to land) that helps us obtain that vision.
-I think the reason this one sticks out for me is because asking lots of questions is something that I don't do very well. I usually don't like to waste the time or believe I already understand. But, when it comes to buying a farm I need to thank the time and I know I don't understand it all!
That is just a sampling of some of their help points. They also mentioned things to check into when buying rural land. Things like: water (well or rural water) ... sewage (does it have septic) ... electricity (how much will it cost to get it there if it isn't already) ... and survey (are the boundaries clearly established). There is a lot to think about, because as the old saying goes: "This will be the biggest purchase you ever make."
Do you have any thoughts to add from your experience or research? Anyone ever dealt with USDA loans (just heard of them and I don't know much about them)? I would love to hear other peoples thoughts on the issue of land and farm purchases...