What to look for/avoid when purchasing property?

JennyT Upstate South Carolina
JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited May 2021 in DIY Tutorials

Morning everyone,

It's hard for me to believe the time for looking for property is here but after selling our house, in less then 12hrs after it was listed, yesterday my husband and I are seriously looking to see what we can find.

We've been researching ways to find land/property for cheap and certain things to be careful of. But I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to the simple "buy this, not that" mentality.

I intend to use permaculture principles on the property, however I haven't taken any courses, I do have some classes to take but thought that I'd ask those that already know about it to give me a head start. I don't think I'll be able to study fast enough at this point.😉

I plan to hopefully be able to make my little business I started, that's been on hold because of the pandemic, grow into much more. For an idea of that here is this thread where I talk more about that.

I have several other ideas for ways to make money using the property. I talk about a few in that thread. There are a few must haves; I want to have runny water on the property, old growth/mature trees, wifi capable because my husband works from home and any possible YouTube channel potential aspects, natural gas, any existing buildings is a plus, partially open not all wooded is a plus but not necessary, and there are more I just can't think of at them at the moment.

If any of you can offer suggestions/things to consider/be careful of/etc. I understand everyone has their own plans for their property but maybe things you learned while looking/wished you'd known/had someone point out that was helpful. This is the last place my husband and I buy we want to be sure we're thinking of everything, weighing all options so to speak even considering in the future when our 4 kids are grown.

Thank you all in advance.😊

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Comments

  • Kirsten Mortensen
    Kirsten Mortensen Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    Not sure this is what you are looking for, exactly, but avoid indulging in feelings of anxiety as you search. It is hard not to feel stressed, but I know to my bones that we were led to the right property because I opened myself up in peace and trusted that the answer would be there...

    (as far as specifics, everyone is so different! But since you are thinking long term, low taxes was one of our considerations, to help our “final chapter” budget stretch further 😉.)

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2021

    @JennyT If you want a permaculture design, don't rush. You need to study the land and get to know it. I say, "it needs to speak to you." And everything does not need to be done overnight. Do what is most important first and the rest will follow. I have taken several permaculture classes and wil help yu any way I can and I know other have taken permaculture here too so ask away.

    As @Marjory Wildcraft said, Water! And Geoff Lawtons property checklist. I know he has a video you tube on it and I should have a paper copy list somewhere. Planning on paper designs and thought of what you want.

    Talk to neighbors and see if they know if chemicals were used heavily on the land before or if it was a toxic land dump (it happened to a friend of mine).

    I would spend a little time in a town nearby and ask questions and just watch activity. Its amazing what you can find out be simple conversations

    Good luck! The adventure begins, enjoy it

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2021

    Check for strange easements the property might have. Check online to see zoning laws in your potential area, farming regulations and animal restrictions.

    And yes, some areas are friendier to new people and some never accept you.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you, @Marjory Wildcraft, @LaurieLovesLearning, @Kirsten Mortensen, @Denise Grant. I will be looking into and considering all that you have mentioned.

    The great thing is that the people who bought our house are letting us rent it back for up to 6mo. at a reduced price so that we can try to find something.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin

    @JennyT When asking about a rural property, make sure that you know where are wells are. Many old properties have old or hidden wells that can be very dangerous and will need to be closed properly.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,622 admin

    @JennyT How exciting! All your plans and dreams starting to come together. Its nice that you have extra time to find the right place. Are you looking for raw land to build on or something already liveable?

    Good advice about the wells. Similarly for anything else underground. Is there a septic? Or maybe an old grey water leach pit? Where are they and when was the last time they were used or serviced? Sometimes homes that have had oil furnaces may have an underground tank. They can be expensive to decommission and remove.

    Water is so important. If you have a creek or other waterway running through the property, make sure you have water rights. In my jurisdiction, you might have a creek on your property but if the property owner above you has applied for water rights, they can control how much flows to your property.

    When you find a place, spend the little extra to have a legal survey done so you can be sure of where the exact property lines are. I know at least two people who have been involved with legal disputes because someone didn't check the lines properly before they built or added on.

    Best of luck with your search!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin
    edited May 2021

    I am not sure how you check to see about mineral rights in the US. Sometimes if it gets mentioned pre-sale, sellers get greedy/suspicious and will not sell those in case you might know something or they might miss out. They may sell to someone else later, even. But, without those rights, a company can come in and destroy all of your surface property to get to it. I think they do pay a little bit to you usually, but if they want the gravel, oil, minerals below the 18" of surface you own, they will succeed in getting what they own, and you are at a loss.

    That is a very big deal for anyone who cares about the use and surface development of their property.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JennyT Yes mineral rights and right of ways to get to any minerals are important to know about. I think that can be checked at the zoning department in many states. I am not sure of other countries.

    And yes - know property lines. I had an issue here and I had lived here 20 years and the new property owner 5. I won but I had many sleepless nights. You may be able to check at deeds office but it may just be better to have a fresh survey. A survey in pennsylvania is only good for 7 years. After I had one done here and checked twice I sunk cement markers in that are very well marked. I deed was also registered for my peace if mind.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft You mentioned an e-book. I looked through the library and e-book library and wasn't sure which one you were thinking of exactly. Was it, 7 Shortcuts To Finding The Perfect Survival Retreat, maybe?

    I also found Geoff Lawton's checklist on YouTube. It would be a dream come true to be able to take his permaculture course. I've been wanting to for many years now. I'm more of a hands on learner, watching it done then doing it myself is how I learn best, so actually going to Australia to take the course would work better than doing it over the computer. However with four kids still in school I can't go off halfway around the world for several months to a year to take it, let alone with the pandemic that's currently going on. Hopefully one day I'll be able to.

    I've had my husband read all of your suggestions and we're going to start on a list, of what we really want, this weekend. To better understand what the other is looking for so we can be on the same page. (Thanks @LaurieLovesLearning 😘)I have much bigger and grander ideas than he does. So this should be interesting.

    Thank you again for all of your help.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @torey We are open to raw land but if the property had some existing buildings that could be turned into a home even if it was temporary we're open. We've even considered "out of the box" ideas like buying raw land setting it up with campsite electric/water/leach bed. We're open to just about anything to make this work and get the property we want. We've even looked into timber frame housing, so that we could in a sense build a house literally by ourselves especially with the cost of building materials currently. Like in this link

    Water is one of my main must haves that and old growth/mature trees. But I intend to sit down with my husband and do like @Marjory Wildcraft said, make a list of what we each want and dream big. Because the nice part about this is that we can finally decide what color paint and things "we" like not what color we think the next owners will appreciate. And my husband said if it takes a couple of years to build it that's fine we get to do it how we want so we can be creative and try out some of the things that we've seen as far as building styles, finishes, etc.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,612 admin

    Wow, that online course looks great! We built our house while homeschooling the kids and building everything else. It is work for young people :) I only want a property with something livable at this point in my life. But I do love building things... I'm just going to keep it at chicken coops and rabbit hutches.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,612 admin

    Yes, @JennyT the 7 Shortcuts is the ebook. And I have wanted to take Geoffs course myself for many years... Maybe I'll try to organize a TGN group deal.

  • Annie Kate
    Annie Kate Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭

    Awesome !

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin

    @JennyT exciting times for you and your family. You must have been delighted and surprised when your house sold in record time. When we were looking for our “forever” property, we did a lot of research. We both had to come to a compromise on where we actually wanted to live. We chose an area with high rainfall, pleasant liveable temperatures, that done, we came up with tick box system. For the general area, good medical services, an airport, good facilities re shops and associated services. Then to the actual property, WATER- super important we have big rain water tank capacity, a well equipped bore and a mostly permanent creek+ dams. Reasonably new and well built home with not to much maintenance, off grid, good shed, good drainage, privacy, good roads to and on the property. Mobile phone and internet reception. All things to consider. We ended up pretty close to what we wanted, the only thing thats been a bit of a pain is the internet and phone reception but we’ve been able to put things in place to improve on that. Good luck with your search, we’ll be interested in how you go.

  • Annie Kate
    Annie Kate Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭

    @JennyT what an adventure! After water, one of the most important thing is neighbors....

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    We've been looking that last couple of days and I'm sorry to say that there's not much out there at the moment.

    So it's hard not to get down, especially when a dream you've had for decades is so close coming to fruition but there is yet another roadblock barring the way.😟 @Kirsten Mortensen It is really tough.

    But we're talking it out, my husband and I, expanding our search radius and trying to make compromises. We have a month until closing. I'd really like to find something and not have to rent because it will eat away at the funds we have to purchase with. There is the option of staying with my parents for another month but 8 people in a 1600sqft house with only 2 bathrooms is not my idea of a walk in the park, especially when I get claustrophobic from time to time in a situation like that.

    We are trying to not have to get a mortgage. After the realtors are paid their share and we pay the bit left on the mortgage on this house we'll have a decent amount. But the question is whether or not that "decent" amount will get us to where we want to be in this current market. And honestly, that's the only question I'm thinking about.🤔

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin
    edited May 2021

    @JennyT If it comes down to living at your parents longer in that size of house, take comfort that you are not 7 people in 800 sq ft with 1 bathroom, as we were until our oldest moved out. Now we are 6 in the same space.

    Now, living combined with parents and your family...that would be the more difficult thing, I would think.

    I was talking to someone just last week who downsized (2 adults, 3 boys) from over 6000 to 2600. I then told them what we've been in for 21 years, and with how many, and they said we were doing good.

    I guess. That's just what life has given us. At least we are in the country!

    I often think of the larger families that often made do with even less space. More is certainly nice and often desirable, but as long as you have a roof over your head, it's a blessing that many don't have.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Definitely pick a place with minimal permitting and code requirements. Rural, or small town with a casual approach to this. This varies tremendously from state to state and even town to town.

    You will want to be able to make as many improvements to the property as possible with minimal oversight and minimal legal and government expenses.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy Yes, definitely want to be able to do/make improvements. Thank you.😊

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 257 ✭✭✭
    edited May 2021

    @JennyT Soil quality and quantity. Lay of the land (is it level, sloped, cleared, treed, as you wish). Accessibility, roads and road maintenance issues, type of vehicle required, distance to services desired and needed), ownership of the roads required for access. Privacy, like accessibility but reversed. Sun exposure. Water access and quality. Pollution: soil, water, air, nearby nuclear or military, noisy activities like industry, guns, or aircraft. Climate data, how hot or cold, rainy or dry is it, are there natural hazards (try Wikipedia entries for nearby places). Buildings and fences, are they adequate or is an immediate outlay of cash needed to get going. Permaculture, are there established plants and trees. Hazards, cliffs, railways, water bodies, wildlife, depending on what the age of the occupents is. Community, what kind of community or neighbour match is there. Perhaps do a business plan and look at the projected impact of the location on the business. Finances, cost and income potential.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JennyT "We are trying to not have to get a mortgage. After the realtors are paid their share and we pay the bit left on the mortgage on this house we'll have a decent amount. But the question is whether or not that "decent" amount will get us to where we want to be in this current market."

    If you need a very small mortgage to make the deal happen, perhaps only a few thousand dollars, it could still make sense to get the mortgage and buy now rather than spend money on rent. I totally hear you on avoiding debt, and I agree, but a small loan could still make sense if you can pay it off in a year or two.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy @flowerpower * @Merin Porter Thank you all for your recommendations.

    Thank you all. I've decide to compile a little notebook that has all these items listed so that I can have it handy should I be looking on the computer or heading out to actually see the property.😊

  • frogvalley
    frogvalley Posts: 675 ✭✭✭✭

    Buying land without any housing built on it can help you discover the attributes of your space. You can build some out buildings to hold things, act as bedrooms, kitchen, and storage, so living out of a camper isn't as claustrophobic as it sounds.

    All of the above suggestions are great.....so many things I wish I'd thought about before we bought. We said we wanted to have water on the property when we were looking, but chose a piece without it. We have a great well, septic, barrels for catching runoff and have contoured the land to maximize the rain (built swales) efficiency. We've been here 35 years and it's working so far.

    Trees are great to have, but I would steer clear of some pines. Ours are reaching 40 or so years, grew straight up, and are now falling down all the time. It's a dangerous situation and expensive if you don't take them down yourself.

    Are you going to stay in the Carolinas?

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin

    @frogvalley has a good point about mature trees in general. Make sure that they are not too close to your house, where age, wind and roots can cause havoc to roof, walls & foundation...as well as to water, gas & other lines.

    Our house has a few beautiful spruce to one side, that in future years, may become an issue. As they get larger, they catch more wind. They could very easily cause damage one day to the house.

    When I worked at a nursery, a big problem we saw in surrounding yards was people planting smaller (young) trees & shrubs too close together or in the wrong location. Too close to each other and some could die of disease and insects because they were weak. The roots might not be able to establish properly & make uprooting more likely. Perhaps they would make mowing extra difficult like going through a maze. Perhaps when they got to their mature size, the cute plantings took up too much space, blocked windows, ruined foundations, driveways & sidewalks. Most people didn't care about any of these things, unfortunately, and their response was that it would be the next homeowners problem, not theirs. Little did they know that it brings down property value later too as problem areas don't help a sale. But I guess that wasn't their problem either.

    I feel that natural gas is not a necessity. I have never used it and it is something that if you rely on a system, what if it goes down, or what if it gets super costly? Looking into reliable alternatives (cost & supply wise) might be a better approach.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @frogvalley Thank you for your input.

    I'd honestly like to get raw land and get the feel of it then build us a small house. I love your idea of being in a camper but having some smaller buildings made to act as bedrooms, kitchen and storage. I'll have to mention that as another possibility to my husband, thanks.😊

    Yes, we intend to stay in South Carolina. However we're looking going further north, closer to the North Carolina border. My husband would much rather move to North Carolina, somewhere near the Appalachian Trail and lots of trees. But my parents moved up from Florida a couple of years ago to be nearer to their grandkids, so we feel we need to stay relatively close to them. That and they are getting older so I'll be able to assist them with things as time goes on if we're not that far away.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2021

    We think that we've found our property! 😁

    I just went through the list that you all have given me, thank you so much for all your help and insight. And we're going to have our realtor send over an offer in the morning after we send him the information tonight and what we're willing to spend.

    Wish us luck!🤞🙏 I'll let you know if they except our offer or if we're still going to be looking.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JennyT Good luck!