Buying bare land vs. buying a fixer-upper

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Cygnet, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To make a large story short, my area's exploding in growth and the commute is going to be untenable within a year or two. There's one road in and out of this area & the population's exploding by tens of thousands every year. It's unreal. I do not expect that they'll ever add another road; the reservation would fight that tooth and nail.

    Once I dig myself out of debt, I'd like to move to another small town that I've identified that will NEVER be big -- it's surrounded by national forest -- and is an hour commute to my job. There's some bare land up there, the water table is decent, and the lot sizes seem to all be around an acre.

    So.

    What would you do? Buy bare land and start from scratch -- I'd have to put a mobile or modular home on it as building costs for custom homes around here are around $200/SF because of the incredible demand for new houses. Possibly more, for this house, as it's in a fairly remote area. Alternately, I could buy a fixer upper and fix 'er up. I'm fairly good at basic home repair tasks but I would not want to tackle anything structural.

    Leva
     
  2. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    it sounds like you are definately going to try the move. you just have not deciced on how. i suppose you will have to weigh the cost of the fixer upper against the cost of the new home. also, is there a fixer upper in an area there you would care to live in?

    i would look for the perfect fixer upper myself. if you need to hire someone to do structural repairs, could it really be more expensive than building a new home? i imagine in some cases it could but i think it most likely that you will save money by fixing one up.
     

  3. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Having done both, I would build a new place from scratch if I were to have a 3rd chance. Our first home was built from scratch on bare land, by my wife and myself, as our first major project. I had helped my dad and friends with repairs and building a garage or two before we build our home, and we did it on vacation and week end time. We now live in a place that is about 100 years old, was empty and abandoned when we bought it, and we are still working on it after 15 years. And we have spent as much as if we started from scratch, and have worked on it while living in it.
    I would get a travel trailer or camper to live in temporarily while building new if I were to do it again. I would never live long term in a mobile or modular home, as they are not energy efficient enough for me, and not arranged for our livestyle.
     
  4. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    one phrase jumped out at me... "lot size seems to be around an acre."

    that tells me that there will be a growth explosion there any minute now. someone has already sudivided it for development purposes.

    from the frying pan right into the fire...
     
  5. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Actually, the area I'm looking at is landlocked by national forest. Some of the houses look to be circa 1870 or so, so the private land has been there awhile. It's an old ranch. By the age of the rest, it looks like it was subdivided in the 1970's or 1980's -- I'd guess there's 200-300 lots total in the area. Some are still bare land, some HAD a house or mobile home on it that has been removed, and some have homes already built. I've been watching the area for the last several years; wish I'd moved up there instead of buying this place, but I couldn't quite afford it then.

    By fixer-upper, I'd mean buying something from the last 20 or so years that needs some basic repairs. Probably made after they outlawed lead paint, aluminum wiring, and asbestos popcorn ceilings, so after about 1980 ... The county I'm looking at also requires everything to be upgraded to code when you make a repair or remodel, and that will be seriously easier in a newer house.

    Leva

     
  6. edcopp

    edcopp Well-Known Member

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    If I really wanted information I would tell people where I was. At least what state. Your question just has too much secrecy in it. :help:
     
  7. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My dad has a log home that he bought as a fixer-upper. Beautiful, but they're a lot of work to maintain. Need to be oiled yearly and chinked every few years. And they're noisy when the wind blows. My father's cabin hadn't been maintained in a many years, and we had to take the weathered (painted!) surface off with hand grinders, dig out pockets of rot, strip out the old chinking, power wash, and rechink, and oil, the whole house. It was a chore. Annual maintenance, obviously, will be a lot less -- but still something to consider. And now that I've seen what happens when you don't maintain the house, it's not something I would skip.

    I HAVE, however, considered a log home. Because they are beautiful, and they're warm. I could also cut the expense on the square footage on one by putting it on a basement & finishing the basement later. But ... the maintanence.

    SO many decisions to make. *LOL*

    Leva



     
  8. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    We bought 10 acres in a neighborhood, and put a modular on it. It cost us $65,000 for the house, and $50,000 for the total site work, basement, well, septic, etc, etc. A lot of money. And we got the base model, with crappy windows. A fixer upper would be a lot less, wouldn't it?
     
  9. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    Having done it both ways, I would go for the existing house. A moderately maintained 20-25 years old house shouldn't be even close to a "fixer-upper". At that age the roof,windows, doors, and heating system may all be at the end of their lifespans, but it might be a lot cheaper, easier and less costly in the long run.
     
  10. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hmm. Good points I do believe site built may be the way to go. The reason I went with a mobile home on the property I'm in now, in addition to it being cheap, was that the mobile home came with a $0 down land-home mortgage and didn't require mortgage insurance. (The interest rate was ouchy, but the property appraised significantly higher than what I paid for it, and I promptly refi'd for a lower interest rate and ended up with $100 a month on payments less. Gotta know how to work the system.)

    In the area I'm looking at --- incidently, this would be the Rye/Gisela area in Arizona -- I'd want to upgrade the roofing to metal anyway, for fire protection. If it had a tin roof on it, that'd be gravy, otherwise, I'd finance a new roof into the loan. Besides the fire protection, I like the idea of a roof that will last the lifetime of the house. :) :) :)

    Windows & doors I can do myself. Ditto fixtures -- electric, plumbing, etc -- toilets -- tile flooring -- painting -- etc. I CAN do minor carpentry and if with some Useful Male Strength to pick the sheetrock up, I'm sure I can hang drywall if need be if it comes down to that.

    The primary heat source in many (most?) houses in this area is wood, because juniper/cedar is so plentiful it's practically free. It's way cheaper than propane or electric. So there's likely to be a wood stove in anything I buy, and if the wood stove needs to be replaced, that'd be a couple of grand. I might want electric heat for those days when it's too WARM to stoke the stove but too cool for no heat at all. Bigger issue would be AC, which is pretty much required in that area -- the temps get over 100 degrees virtually every day in the summer.

    Leva

     
  11. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Low maintanence is high on our priority list,to get it we would have to build to that standard.We are thinking earth,cement and block to a very large degree.

    BooBoo
     
  12. PonderosaQ

    PonderosaQ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A house that is 20-30 yrs old might be a great choice for an easy fixer upper. No more 100 yr old houses for me, as someone else said 15 yrs later you're still working on it.One might want to consider the costs of putting a new septic and/or well in with new construction. That can be a huge expense in some areas, enough to pay for the fixing up of an existing home that is probably cheaper anyway. We made this same decision a couple of years ago and anyway we looked at it existing turned out cheaper where we are. I would have enjoyed a new home but felt it was just going to cost too much out of our retirement nest egg.Good luck with your decision,
    PQ
     
  13. sheeplady

    sheeplady Well-Known Member

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    I would go for a fixer upper. Not too delapitated, so you could move in while you are fixing it. It will already be assessed and on the tax rolls and if you do your repairs gradually, shouldn't change a lot. A new from ground up home will invariably be high from the start( tax wise). The house we are renovating is assessed low there ( its over 100 years old, never had electric or indoor plumbing)and as long as the work is done to repair original components ( roof, chimney, replacement windows, etc.) they are leaving the asessement alone. Putting on an addition would call for a work permit and invariably a new higher assesment.
    Funny though, if we tear down an outbuilding nothing is lowered, but building a new one it gets raised. So we are moving a couple of the outbuildings to suit our needs. Also sheds, outbuildings up to 10 x 12 are largely ignored.
     
  14. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    when we got our land it came with a house that needed a match but you would be surprised what you can do after allmost 2 years we have a nice home with no morgage we will be putting up new pics next week in 2 weeks the inside will be complete if you would like to take a look

    www.rushingtrail.com
     
  15. Judy in IN

    Judy in IN Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mtman,
    That is a great job that you and Easyday made of that place! It's gorgeous! Please come back and let us know when the new pics go up!

    You did such a good job! :goodjob:
     
  16. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First, go to your various lending institutions and get yourself approved for a loan. You will then know exactly how much you are able to borrow.

    Go look at everything that is for sale, even if it is a little out of your price range. If you fall in love with a place, that is the time to decide if you want to fix it up. You may very well find a place for sale where the owners are anxious to sell. In this case, you will be able to buy it for less than it may be worth. If you already have a loan approval, you will be able to jump on it.

    Always make your offer "contingent upon inspection". The inspector will always find something wrong and this gives you an out if you change your mind. Also, you will have a clear idea of what needs to be done and if you can afford to do it.

    I would not buy a mobile home if you can help it. If you do buy a mh, have a full roof built over it, giving you a nice new roof and big porch overhangs on both sides. These roofs add years to the life of a mh, and make the interior much more comfortable. Also, have the mh put on a foundation. This will add years the life of the mh.
     
  17. Ramblin Wreck

    Ramblin Wreck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cygnet: My personal choice would be to buy raw land and build something, primarily because I like to start from scratch and build what I want. A secondary reason is that it takes more skill and patience (I think) to redo an older home right than it does to build a new one!! It really boils down to choice I think.

    mtman: You and your wife have built a beautiful place...and I really envy your freedom from debt too. I long to join you, and God willing, I should be there in two years. In the meantime, keep inspiring us poor debtors.
     
  18. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Actually, getting a loan won't be an issue & I won't be buying a place for as much as I COULD qualify for. When I bought the place I'm in now, I think the bank :nana: was disappointed that I didn't finance more.

    Leva