The Quest for Land

So, in documenting experiences surrounding our remote undisclosed location as I mentioned I was going to do, I suppose I ought to go back to the beginning.

The first step was finding the land to purchase. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Not so fast.

The first big problem was the fact that we were looking for land a significant distance away from our current residence. We couldn’t just trot over in the evening and look a place over; it took more planning than that.

We were concentrating on the area we chose for several reasons: we were looking for land in a state that was firmly in the “Free America” category. While I believe that ultimately all of the red states will eventually fall prey to the leftist virus spreading throughout the land, we are hoping that the state we chose will resist long enough for us to reach our eternal rest before the jackboots take control. That’s only a hope, but one of the points in buying rural land is that rural areas tend to be the last to fall. The cities go first, but then for them to build the population of socialists up enough to outvote the rural citizens and take over all branches of the state government takes time. Usually decades. So we should be good.

We also wanted land in a mountainous region as it lends more privacy and defensibility to the homestead. While it’s possible to approach our land from the “back” side, you have to go over a mountain ridgeline to do it. Limiting approach vectors is good policy. Also, mountains make great backstops when it’s time to put in the gun range. As an added bonus, we love riding our motorcycles in the mountains. After we move to the new land, to do that, we’ll only have to leave the driveway.

Another consideration, the land had to be inexpensive enough for us to be able to afford to buy it, and still have enough money to develop it and make it useable as a homestead. We wanted at least some of the land to be woods so we can leave it in its natural state, but also needed enough flattish, clearable land to put a house, barn, garden, etc on.

It had to have road frontage. I don’t want to have to deal with easements and getting power to land that isn’t right on the road can be an expensive proposition. There’s lots of undeveloped “recreational/hunting” land available for cheap, but if you want to use it for a home site, developing it and getting utilities set up can get expensive quick. The only real options for something like that is “off grid” and I’m not prepared to go there yet. I’d like to have the option, but don’t want it to be the ONLY option.

The land had to be big enough to do all of that and maintain a decent spacing between my home and the neighbor’s…we were really looking for something between 20 and 30 acres.

So, with all that criteria in mind, we started using all the typical search tools…Zillow, Realty.com and a few similar tools specifically designed around rural and undeveloped land. That helped, but those tools kind of suck. I’d set the filters to, say, “10+ acres” and “$100k or less” and I’d get listings for city houses on postage stamp lots because there was no acreage listed, and huge mega ranches because the price said “Call for price” or “any reasonable offer” wherein it was obvious that “reasonable” is defined in 7 or 8 figures.

Even when the filtering is done, none of the tools offered all the filters I’d have wanted so we had to wade through listing after listing that didn’t fit our criteria.

Then, when we found a property that looked interesting, I’d start researching. Look at Satellite views, check the FEMA flood maps, find out what county it’s in and look for problematic county ordinances, check to see if it’s in any kind of “protected” status (wetlands, protected species, watershed areas, etc).

If it passed all of those checks, then the next step was often the most difficult. Try to get in contact with the listing agent or seller. Sometimes they would respond, sometimes not. If they responded, then we started asking the requisite questions:

Are there any easements? Do all the wood, mineral, water and other rights convey? Is there a current survey? Is the title clear? Are there any known environmental hazards, hazardous waste issues, restrictions on use? Has there been a perk test for suitability for a septic system? Is a well viable?

Often, they would fail to respond to any of the questions, or they would answer some of them and ignore the rest. If we asked any follow up questions, that was usually the last we heard from them.

Apparently there are enough investment corporations and/or rich people willing to buy land sight unseen that they don’t need to worry much about dealing with the questions from pesky people like us who actually were intending to use the land ourselves.

After going through this crap for a few months, I decided we needed to narrow our search down to a specific three or four county area and find a local realtor to act as our buyers agent. That would enable them to help us communicate with the sellers and their agents and they had access to some research resources that we didn’t.

That was a great idea until after about the 5th Realtor in that area I spoke with once and then wouldn’t return my calls any more. Apparently, they didn’t feel we were serious and thought they’d be spending a bunch of time on us to no avail. Either that our our requirements were just too stringent for the amount of money we were able to spend (and, therefore, the amount of commission they would get).

We finally ended up finding a realtor who would work with us. I’d love to give out his name publicly but that would break opsec because he’s easy to find. He really did a bang-up job for us and we now consider him a local friend in the area that we can rely on when we need something. He’s a good dude. If you’re looking for land similar to what I’ve been describing, e-mail me. If you’re interested in the area he works, I’ll give you a referral.

At any rate, finally equipped with a local realtor to help us out, the search started in earnest. We took some recommendations from him, took some that we’d found online that we were interested in, and a couple that we’d heard about from word of mouth and made a list of the properties we’d like to take a look at, then we took a trip out there.

The one we ended up buying was the third one we looked at that day. It is actually smaller than my low limit, but knowing that it already had power lines, a well and a septic tank made it worth taking a look and I’m glad we did. Although on the smallish side, it is laid out exactly the way we’d hoped to find and was perfect for our purposes.

We made an offer on the spot.

And so the saga of the title began. Next time.

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