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Discussion Starter #1
Good morning fellow homesteaders!

I am a novice, looking to buy a homestead property. I have found two but they each come with drawbacks that I am trying to decide between.

Charming House, Oddly Laid Out Property, No Pond
This property has 2 new outbuildings and enough electric fences to pasture two horses (previous owner had two) or other livestock. There is also a creek running through the woods.
The home on this property is small but charming - in move in condition - I could be very happy living in it. However the property itself is oddly shaped, in something like a thick Y. Much of the acreage is in tail of Y that shoots straight back from the house, and then the house and garden are in one of the thick upper forks, and the other fork of the Y is wooded. I THINK it would need some woods clearing, too, which costs $$$

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Dingy House, Well Laid Out Property, With Pond
The other property is laid out in a much more natural homesteading rectangle shape. It needs LESS woods clearing. It also has a natural pond. However, no outbuildings other than a shed and no fencing. AND the house needs a serious remodel, (remodel existing bathroom, add a deck, replace windows and siding, add another bathroom, complete kitchen remodel, and mudroom add) - though it is livable now.

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Both properties will need investments in the land, but the BETTER land comes with a house remodel, too.

Without a home remodel, I could sink more $ in the land of the oddly shaped property, but is it too odd to really become a workable homestead with a private pond?

What do more experienced homesteaders advise? THANKS!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Maybe the better land isn't really better, but only seems so to me because I prefer the shape!
 

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Welcome to the forum.
I think the best thing to do is weigh what it would cost you to get each property where you want it.
The odd shape property may give you more privacy.
 

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EPA or state EPA (maybe called DNR or another name) will have online rules re ponds, "waters of the state" in WI where I am, and what you can and cannot do. At least in WI, the biggest triggers are: shoreline rules, wetland rules and is your pond "navigable" and that term is deadly. We have a large, man-made pond (here when we bought it) without any entry or exit other than rain-water so we did not have to worry about any rules. Of course when building we used all the storm water run-off protections to keep it nice.

Also we because we wanted to stock it, we did have to get a "fish farm" license so we are registered with DNR.
 

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How much land for both pieces?
How close to the neighbors?
What is the price before improvements?
 

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It would seem the only drawback to the Y property is that little insert-- What's on it now? Can it be developed by the owner (current or future) into something you may not like (all night rap disco bar; fracking site, shooting range, Holy Roller Church?)...It also looks too small to do anything with....Maybe the current owner would just as soon unload it to avoid paying the tax on property he can't use.

I was amazed at how cooperative the county agencies were here in WI as I developed my homestead from scratch. (I was from Chicago, where no problem is too small not to require at least a $20 tip placed discreetly on the palm of the inspector.)...When I asked the building & zoning guy about certain specs on a barn, he replied "What do we care? It's your barn."

Re: clearing woods-- Any marketable timber? Let them pay you for the privilege of doing the work for you.
 

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I'd do a dollar cost analysis on each property. Are they located near each other? Different counties, different taxes, costs to do things. Building codes, etc. are important....

Ask your realtor to get you the information on the little property in the Y. It's public records so can be done. Ask her the "value" of it and make the owner an offer....

What's bordering each property? - that will have an impact on you. You want horses....is there a place to ride or do you have to haul them to ride? That was a major factor for me.

Electric fencing is not expensive.

Although water regulations have been somewhat rolled back by Trump, especially those regarding "navigable" water ways. You do need to familiarize yourself with them before altering a stream or pond.

If it were me, I'd go with the property that has more land and is private. But then, I'm more into land and what I can do with it than a house.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
How much land for both pieces?
How close to the neighbors?
What is the price before improvements?
Both pieces are roughly the same size: Y-shaped with nice house = 21 acres / Rectangle with dingy house = 26 acres

Both houses are in a rural area, but on a public road, with a house across the road and at least one neighbor visible from next door. I don't mind that. I am a lone woman with two small children, so I want some connection to "civilization"

Both properties are mid 200's. Y shape is $20,000 less than Dingy House, but Dingy House has been on the market a while, and if I go for it, I plan to bid low.

THANK YOU TO ALL FOR YOUR FEEDBACK. THERE IS MUCH TO THINK ABOUT HERE.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It would seem the only drawback to the Y property is that little insert-- What's on it now? Can it be developed by the owner (current or future) into something you may not like (all night rap disco bar; fracking site, shooting range, Holy Roller Church?)...It also looks too small to do anything with....Maybe the current owner would just as soon unload it to avoid paying the tax on property he can't use.

Re: clearing woods-- Any marketable timber? Let them pay you for the privilege of doing the work for you.
The Insert has a little house on it. If I go for the Y, I plan to ask my Mom to offer to buy them out, so she can live in it, but who knows? I don't think they can do anything with it, but that is a good thing to find out!

How can I find out if my timber is marketable? Would love to have someone clear the other Y fork for me, so the wide upper part is more contiguous and usable.
 

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The Insert has a little house on it. If I go for the Y, I plan to ask my Mom to offer to buy them out, so she can live in it, but who knows? I don't think they can do anything with it, but that is a good thing to find out!

How can I find out if my timber is marketable? Would love to have someone clear the other Y fork for me, so the wide upper part is more contiguous and usable.
Depends on what kind of trees. How big and how many trees. I buy some timber sometimes when i need a lumber i don't have. Mostly i have all my own trees and harvest it. Check with your local sawmill and see what they need and will pay. If it is not much timber most companies will not mess with it. If just a few trees you may get someone that needs that timber and will come in and cut and clear it out just for getting the tree for free.
 

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Show me the properties on a soil map and I'll be happy to give you my 2¢.
 

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The Insert has a little house on it. If I go for the Y, I plan to ask my Mom to offer to buy them out, so she can live in it, but who knows? I don't think they can do anything with it, but that is a good thing to find out!

How can I find out if my timber is marketable? Would love to have someone clear the other Y fork for me, so the wide upper part is more contiguous and usable.
Before you allow someone to timber the property check for horror stories on the internet. If you have trees more than a few decades old, there's a chance you may have soil that has not eroded and can be used for growing herbs. Find a local herbalist to walk the wooded areas with you. Look for evidence of timbering like old stumps.

In many states timbering followed by agriculture destroyed the soils in the last century. You may have a gem of a property in the forked parcel.
 

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Before you allow someone to timber the property check for horror stories on the internet. If you have trees more than a few decades old, there's a chance you may have soil that has not eroded and can be used for growing herbs. Find a local herbalist to walk the wooded areas with you. Look for evidence of timbering like old stumps.

In many states timbering followed by agriculture destroyed the soils in the last century. You may have a gem of a property in the forked parcel.
Good points....That's why WI is the Dairy State today: clear cutting forests on terrain carved into deep ridges & valleys by the run-off from the melting glaciers made for good pastures, too hilly for convenient row cropping.

BTW, GoldenBee-- you won't need to clear very much for a garden: 25 ft of peas, 25 ft of beans and 50 ft of potatoes will feed each person for a year. I'm over-run with strawberries & raspberries grown in a patch 20x20.
 

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You don't give a diagram with the dingy house - but I'm thinking the odd shaped property is going to be your better value. The house is livable as is and really doesn't need much done with it. There are two newer outbuildings already there - with some fencing - so if you chose to get animals right away - it shouldn't be a problem.

While you say the dingy house is livable - but needs remodeled, I shudder to think what you are going to find if you would start to remodel it. House remodeling can add up very fast - and especially if you run into problems once the remodeling starts.

With the odd shaped property - you say clearing the property is going to be costly. But the thing with that - is you can do little things at a time to improve the land - and otherwise - it just waits until you get back to it.

With what information I have so far - I would say the odd shaped property is the one to go with.
 

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A single woman with 2 small children puts your question in a different perspective. Go for the property with the nice house....You'll spend enough time raising them without having to go through the disruption of remodeling.
 

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If I had that kind of money to spend, I would keep looking for a property that didn’t make me feel torn. I also think in a rural area you can find better in that price range.

For $72k my wife and I found 37 wooded acres with a 3 bed cabin that needed no work other than regular maintenance and personal preferences. On grid, close to town, but very private. also set up for off grid as well. No permits needed for anything under 400 sq. ft. Plenty of water. All rights convey. It was originally an off grid homestead that was put on the grid and updated with plumbing, septic, etc.

We didn’t even find it advertised. We placed an ad in a local classified/trader magazine stating what we were looking for and the seller came to us.

The only down side was that it was recently select cut. The logging company left a mess. But that brought the price down to affordable for us. Because we don’t plan on having any large grazing livestock anytime soon, existing pasture space wasn’t so critical for us. The space cleared from logging will require years of work to turn into pasture, but we’ve got the time. We have space for a large garden already and what left will be just fine for hogs, goats and chickens

Knowing exactly what you plan to do with the property will go a very long way in helping you decide which property would be your Best Buy.

Also keep in mind that you’re already overloading yourself with work if you’re going into it right off the bat with logging, land clearing, remodeling, etc. This will be on top of or push back all of the actual work that comes with an established homestead, which all in itself will keep you very busy.
 
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