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Old 03/06/12, 10:47 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Washington State
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Buying first piece of land? What should I know?

I am looking at buying my first piece of land for homesteading. What would you would have liked to have known buying your first piece of land. I was curious what to look for, and what to avoid?

Stay low, stay quiet, and you will be O. K... ~ John Wayne.
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Old 03/06/12, 11:01 PM
Coloneldad5's Avatar  
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Utah
Posts: 278
Swamp land.

Seriously, a lot depends upon exactly what you are looking to do with it. In my opinion the more land the merrier, but reality is budgets tend to limit what you get. However you can often get more if you are willing to find a place that requires more work to improve or establish.

Ask lots of questions. I once looked at a piece of land that appeare to be a great deal, problem was the water table there made it impossible to build anything on it and other zoning issues would have prevented me from using it the way I wanted to.

Talk to the neighbors. They can be wealth of information on the history of the land and how it works (irrigation, animal issues, soil issues, etc.). They can also give you a feel for the folks you'll be dealing with. Having a great piece of land can be spoiled by some lousy neighbors.

Do research on any and all parcels you are looking at. I looked up my land (before buying it) on Google Earth and noticed that at the street level view image (3 years old) it had the realtor sign posted which told me it had been on the market for a long time and thus the seller would potentially be more willing to deal. We went low, but apparently not quite low enough as he pretty much took us up on it too quickly.
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Old 03/07/12, 06:18 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: No. Cent. AR
Posts: 1,731
Depending on what you would like to do on the land first and foremost is water availability AND potability. Next for me would be traffic patterns in the area and then soil condition/"lay of the land." Zoning/building restrictions are also important if you plan to have any animals even a few chickens.
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Old 03/07/12, 06:28 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Northern Michigan (U.P.)
Posts: 11,114
I see too many folks that buy a piece that's wooded and want to know how to turn it into pasture or garden. Conversely, I see folks with fields want to know how to make it into productive forest. Buy what you want, rather than try to make it into what you want.
There are a hundred different things to look out for.

Like minded neighbors helps. If you want to drag a shack in and have dogs and free range chickens, neighbors with a nice house and beautiful lawn might not take to you. If you want peace and quiet, and neighbors have three teenagers and three dirt bikes or fourwheelers,you won't be happy.

Clean water, good soil, good drainage are important. Good schools and available jobs are important to most folks.
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Old 03/07/12, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 1,656
Not knowing your definition of what "homesteading" is it may be a hard question to answer.
Generally speaking I'd like to know if the land is free and clear, meaning; no right of ways, sold mineral rights, leans, etc. What are the zoning restrictions if any? Good water and drainage both play a part also. Neighbors buy enough land and you don't have to really worry bout that so much.......
Again it depends on what your "homesteading" wants are?
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Old 03/07/12, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 841
Since your monicer is "onthewater", I'm guessing that you're on the west side of the state? Is that correct?

If you were on the east side of the state the first priority above all else would be the availability of water and your water rights. On the west side though I'd suggest your legal access to the property comes first. Zoning I think is a lot more important on the west side than the east side.

When we purchased our land, we hired a local lawyer to write and evaluate the contracts we negociated. I recommend you do the same. Find one that has experience with property law.

Note that Washington I think is one of the states that tries to control rainwater collection. Look into that if you have ideas of collecting supplemental water off your cabin roof. I believe there may be exemptions for small-scale personal use, but you don't want to find out the hard way.
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Old 03/07/12, 11:20 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1,347
Check for easements. Our neighbor has an easement and can drive across our land to get to his pasture. The power company may have an easement to come maintain power lines. There has been an issue in the news lately about one of the power companies in Missouri. They have 100 foot easement for their powerlines and they are going on people's property and removing all plants that have the "potential" of growth of more than 12 feet from the entire easement.
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Old 03/07/12, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
Posts: 4,340
Check to see if it's in a flood plain. I almost bought a piece of property, exactly what I was looking for, that looked like a river was running thru it when it came a hard rain.

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Old 03/07/12, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: FL
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5 acres and independence(book)
reading it now.
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Old 03/07/12, 01:03 PM
Murphy was an optimist ;)
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 25,347
As with any purchase.... the more you know about the product... the better you can evaluate how it will serve your needs. There are many things that can affect your purchase, and folks here have tossed out some pretty good advice so far. Water... is potable water available? Is there plenty of water to take care of all your needs? What are the water rights issues in your area? Springs, wells, old wells that could be a problem due to contamination? Access to the property is very important.... public road or private? Are there easements or restrictions that could interfere with your plans? Deeds... there are several kinds... what you are looking for is one that guarantees you actually own the property in its entirety. Survey.... where are the boundaries? are they clearly marked and are there any neighbors contesting them? Soil usage... what crops are you wanting to grow and will the soil be adequate for them? What are the fence issues in your area? will you be responsible for maintenance of them even if you dont raise livestock? Environmental hazards on the property? I once turned down a pretty good deal on an otherwise dandy parcel of property because a previous owner had allowed a tire recapping company to dump 127 earth mover tires on the back of the property. After checking around and finding out that it would cost me 150 bucks each to have them disposed of properly I opted out of the deal. Are there other problems with the property that could come back to bite you later. Then of course there are things tax liens, mineral rights issues, and a host of other disasters that can take a pretty nice looking piece of property and destroy its usefulness to you.
"Nothing so needs reforming as other peoples habits." Mark Twain
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Old 03/07/12, 07:13 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 23
I recommend reading the book "Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country" by Lee and Carol Scher. I read it over and over for a year as we were looking for our first ever home purchase and property. This book gave me the confidence to buy our dream place without a buyers or sellers real estate agent! I used a sample contact in the book as my template for my place and hired a lawyer to make everything legal and to do the title research. This book taught me to do it myself and save several thousand dollars in Realtor fees! Good luck!
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Old 03/07/12, 07:28 PM
Brenda Groth
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Michigan
Posts: 7,817
get the best soil test you can, check for chemicals as well as normal stuff.
get a good water test..and make sure you have good year around water and preferably that moves itself.

check to see if you are in a flood plain or in a tornado alley..those are both very dangerous and of course hurricaines if they are nearby often or fire.

look at what is growinig on the the plants look healthy (weeds whatever)..if aware that there might be some problems with the soil.

talk to the neighbors and find out what they know about the property (and scope them out)..

make sure there are no leins againist the property that might pop up

hope this helps.
Brenda Groth
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Old 03/07/12, 08:15 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Washington State
Posts: 12
There is so many great ideas here. What I am looking at is property on the eastern side of Washington state. I currently live on the western side and I am tired of the gray clouds and rain. The piece that I am currently looking at is twenty acres, with half trees and half pasture. The property is on a south facing slope, with a small one room cabin with electrical, septic and well. It is ideally what I have been looking for. I wanted to see if anyone had any ideas before I made my first offer. My plan is to build my own home to live in and start a small homestead. I think someone asked what does Homestead mean to you? Homestead to me is home, where I can grow my own and live with a somewhat self sustainable life. Thank you to everyone that has come up with all the great ideas. Gives me a bunch of stuff to work with and think about. Thanks again.

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Old 03/07/12, 09:54 PM
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I was born and raised in NE WA, still here. Make sure you look when it's not spring, because it is deceptively beautiful here that time of year. I love living here, but it dries out substantially in the summer, so you have to have more than you would think in pasture for any grazing animals. You will definitely get a break from clouds and rain though - it's always sunny here in the summer!
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Old 03/08/12, 08:47 AM
Murphy was an optimist ;)
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 25,347
Originally Posted by megan. View Post
I was born and raised in NE WA, still here. Make sure you look when it's not spring, because it is deceptively beautiful here that time of year. I love living here, but it dries out substantially in the summer, so you have to have more than you would think in pasture for any grazing animals. You will definitely get a break from clouds and rain though - it's always sunny here in the summer!
I grew up in eastern Oregon.... pretty much the same weather patterns... sunny all summer cept when you have hay cut and ready to bale.
"Nothing so needs reforming as other peoples habits." Mark Twain
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Old 03/08/12, 09:41 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Ohio
Posts: 4,056
liens and easements
road frontage
timber and mineral rights
soil condition / composition/ph / slope
sun exposure climate
improvements or structures
zoning restrictions
nice to have a mix of open and woods
distance for commute to work
You don't want to overextend yourself money=-wise and not have money to make other improvements
"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow the fields of those who don't."-Thomas Jefferson
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Old 03/08/12, 07:21 PM
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Location: Arkansas
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Shoot around here you cut your hay all but guarantees rain.
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Old 03/08/12, 07:26 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Central Oregon
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[[[[[ cut your hay all but guarantees rain......]]]]]

Yeah. In the summer, when the storm clouds appear, we say "Look. Someone cut their hay."
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Old 03/08/12, 08:14 PM
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Location: IL, right smack dab in the middle
Posts: 6,787
First I want to know where its at.
That means a survey.
Second I want to know what I can do with it. That means checking out the easements and encumbrances.....a lawyer might be worth it here.
Third I want to know its mine that means a woven wire fence about 7 feet tall with hot wires on top and a hot wire on each side near the bottom on a separate charger.
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Old 03/08/12, 08:26 PM
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Title insurance, title insurance, title insurance!
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