Saturday, August 28, 2010

Looking for New Property

Be forewarned: I got carried away with details-it's LONG!

We've been looking at property and coming up with ideas since before we were married. We've had some grand ideas that we could never afford, but the process can be fun. We had a strategy for paying for the more realistic ideas, but Plan A got kiboshed before we could ever put it into play. Plan B was a bit more of a challenge and would take time, but we could build in phases with that plan. Well, the economy nose dived and the source of those funds dried up too. In between those phases, we bought what we thought was the perfect parcel. Two acres of irrigated land for the price that many people were asking for one. The bonus was the other 3 couples making up this investment group were all part of the church we go to, and people we'd actually want to be neighbors with. We managed to get the cash for the buy in and then we really started dreaming/planning! We'd been renting since getting married and were eager to set down roots.

(Would it help to know that we got married in 2006?)

Thru an odd exchange, we ended up with a home to live in while building that had no mortgage. It was supposed to be temporary-like 6 to 8 months. It's now been two and a half years and we aren't any closer to building than when we moved in! There are several reasons why, but I won't go into all of that in this post. Suffice to say that had I known we'd even be here a year I never would have agreed to the set up. It's just not adequate to call a home. I've tried not to complain too much, as it is paid for but I feel like I'm holding back on things until we have a "real" house. Every few months we look at what's available in our area and quickly realize there's nothing wonderful enough about any of the places to make us want to go into debt. However, I'm getting weary of tripping over every day items because there's nowhere to put them. Oh, and the balloon payment on that marvelous piece of property is due November 1st. Nothing like a large sum of money coming due to change one's perspective.

I think I mentioned last week that we even drove to TN last December to see if we'd want to live there, because it seemed like an ideal place for us and prices are like a 10th of what they are here. We've looked at other parts of AZ, but where we are has water. Water means plants and trees. Plants and trees mean food and shade. Food and shade mean happier family. Need I say more? So I tell you all of this because we found a place that is almost perfect, but the parts that aren't are enough to make us really examine our motives and desires and continue to seek God's guidance. That's where you come in. We've made a list of the pros and cons of each place and I'd like to present it for examination. Maybe you will see something we haven't thought of or have some wisdom and insight we don't.

For the record, we make quarterly payments on that piece of land we bought a few years ago. The cost of this place we're looking at would give us a mortgage of roughly $200/month less than what that quarterly payment works out to be-if they accepted our low ball offer. We're also aware that the mortgage would now be on our primary residence rather than a bare piece of land that we could let go of, if needed. So here's the list:

Current Residence Pros:
  1. no mortgage
  2. irrigation
  3. creek
  4. easy drive to town
  5. 1 acre
  6. central heat & AC
  7. wood stove
  8. hen house
  9. fenced garden
 Current Residence Cons:

  1. tight floor plan
  2. no storage
  3. old bath fixtures
  4. highway noise
  5. drafty construction
  6. cracked window seals
  7. can't remodel
  8. can't take more foster kids/no siblings for TJ
  9. can't have guests
  10. no room for crafts
  11. bad flooring
  12. one bathroom
  13. no linen closet
  14. funky thermostat
  15. I could go on, but I don't want to be reminded!

Proposed Residence Pros:

  1. hen house
  2. barn with stalls
  3. hay loft
  4. mechanical room (could be used as milking area)
  5. pond
  6. pasture
  7. fenced
  8. cross fenced
  9. fenced garden
  10. music work shop
  11. root cellar
  12. cheese aging room
  13. evaporative cooling
  14. storage
  15. workshop
  16. wood stove (s)
  17. trampoline enclosure
  18. swing set up
  19. irrigation
  20. 2 acres

Proposed Residence Cons:

  1. mortgage
  2. no AC
  3. small master bedroom-not so bad except it's 1 of only 2 bedrooms-foster care makes this a challenge
  4. tight floor plan-would be a challenge to remodel to our liking
  5. old bath fixtures

 If we simply look at the numbers of pros and cons on each, the decision seems easy, but some of the cons are big at the proposed place. This post is already long, but I'll take a bit more time to say that once TJ's adoption is final, he can't share a room with foster children unless they are the same age group and gender. I think the dividing line for age is 6, so that gives us a year to find a way to have another bedroom for more kids. Once a child is adopted, the rules no longer apply. TJ really wants a brother, and we think it'd be good for him to have one, so that's a big consideration too. Children two and under can share our room, but we're not sure we want any that young. There's a bedroom in the basement, but it can't be used for foster children because there have to be two exits to the outside from any room they sleep in for fire safety. This room has no exits to the outside. The master bedroom being small isn't so much the issue as sharing the upstairs bathroom is. Our thought was to build a master suite on the main level so that both upstairs rooms would be kids rooms. Oh yeah, and when my parents come to visit, they can't go up and down the stairs, so there isn't anywhere for them to stay. Here I go talking myself out of a place that I really want! Well, I really want all the outside amenities and the basement. And the huge workshop for Tony's instrument building-along with another workshop for everything else. Did I mention storage? We'd be able to buy in bulk and save money. And with two acres we'd have enough grazing area for all the animals we have. And that pond-not having to fill buckets for the goats several times a day-how much power does that feature get?? I didn't tell you the barn stalls are configurable-the gates swing either way to make various size stalls. If we had to buy hay-we could buy in bulk and save again!

Now do you see why this is such a hard decision?  Maybe floor plans will help:

If you've read this far, you're a real trooper and I thank you!



  1. I stuck it out to the end. lol First off, if you sold both properties you own now, would you still have a mortgage? Age factoring, how many years do you want to have to pay for your home?
    I can see the garage as a bedroom, how big does it have to be, how many hours do you spend in a bedroom (with kids around)? You have a great floor plan if that is what the house offers now, or is the floor plan what you want in a home? Many possibilities if your up to hard work and your a do it yourselfer, otherwise, your looking at carpenter work and $$$. We'll have to brainstorm one day about this.

  2. Well, based on what you have told me I would take the second property. It has all of the outside amenities you could want. Believe me when I say it is hard to struggle to do what you want without having the proper "whatever it is" that you need. Having to make do can get old when trying to run a farm. Now as far as the house. It isn't bad and small isn't a bad thing. Looking at the plans it looks like there is some room that could be added to maybe make a third bedroom. Don't knock a small house though, especially on a farm. We have a huge rambling farmhouse. We wind up using maybe half of the house and the rest is just wasted space that still has to be cleaned. I would love for my house to be a lot smaller than it is. We spend most of our time outside anyway. Inside is for breaks, eating and sleeping. Window units would solve the AC issue and they don't cost that much to run these days. Surprisingly they are really efficient. Especially if you are just paying to cool the one area of the house that you are in. Like you said the master bedroom can be added on downstairs. You could also add a guest suite on the garage side of the house as well. I see lots of possibilities for the proposed property. But for me the deal breaker is more land. I could deal with anything to get that extra acre of land. Blessings, Kat

  3. OK, I am just going to tell you from my experience. When we moved down here we rented a house in the suburbs for a year.We were desperate to get out of the city and having trouble finding property.We settled for the place we have needs a ton of work and so does the land.Looking back, I would have waited to find a place with less work,a place more suited to my wants.Yes I have my farm,but it is way more work and money than I had planned!I guess what I am saying is if it is not really close to what you want,wait!

  4. Thanks ladies, this has helped me clarify what's good and what's not. What you can't see on the floor plans and I should have thought to point out is that the north side of the house, where the garage is, has a wonderful shade tree and then the smaller workshop. There is some space there, but not enough to build a room. Plus, being a light sleeper we'd like to find something where our room is a bit removed from the "action" parts of the house and Tony's workshop would be full of action early in the morning! Can't build to the east because of the way the main floor bathroom and kitchen are situated. The south is a possibility, but then it blocks natural light from the rest of the house, and I am a desperate needer of natural light! The west is the main front porch and entry way, so building there would probably be more expensive.

    I don't think we know enough to do it all ourselves-adding on-but we could certainly help and reduce costs that way.

    Laura-yes, the cost of this new home is more than the equity we have in existing properties. I've bought homes/land twice just before prices dropped, yet I still have realtors tell me land never loses value! At the time we bought this, you couldn't buy an acre of land for less than $185,000. We bought two for $167,000 in this deal and now we MIGHT get that back, but probably not. The house we actually live in was worth $150,000 when we moved in and now I'll be thrilled to get $130,000.

    Kat-you are right about the out buildings having so much value. it's the only reason I keep considering the place. There's got to be a lot of money in the fencing, mature trees, established vines, and barn. We feel cramped when we're in this house, and that's not good. We're cramped in the house we're in and I too thought I could put up with it for the short time we planned on being here. The thought of being stuck here is maddening!

    Thanks again for the input!

  5. I can tell you about ours. If I were shoppping NOW I would go for something different-when we bought the house it needed work-it has taken us 8 years to get it somewhat to where we want it to be, and there are still walls I want to knock down. Our property is a bit more that what we have been able to handle, and we sort of stumbled as we learned our way-I am a city girl turned farm chick, so it has been really a learning experience.
    I like the pros of your second option-sounds like a lot of things I would love to have.
    But in this economy I say if it's not exactly what you want, and you have a place where you can wait it are in no rush to do anything...but if the price is right and you are ready to buy and it's what you want-go for it! Like they say, it's a buyer's market.

  6. I know how it is to end up someplace longer than planned. We moved in with my parents for a few months while we found a house, and ended up stuck there for two years!
    The pros of the second place sound wonderful, but if you will go crazy in the house, don't do it. Could you build a house on your current property for less than fixing up and adding on to the proposed property?

  7. We don't want to build on either of the properties we own. Where we live right now is on the main road thru town and NOISY! The property we bought with the intention of building is in a part of town that is getting sewer and the monthly fee is high and we're trying to get away from monthly expenses. We'll keep looking!

  8. Your second option sounds do-able. With the garage, it COULD be made into sleeping areas or something (my cousin just added a garage onto his house and made his old garage into a master bedroom). I like the idea of more land and away from traffic noise. You could get all your animals together rather than having to travel to your animal pasture to care for them. I like it - my idea is "less house, more land" .... I can work with "unworkable" housing if I have the land and the buildings. AND the place is cross fenced? WOW ... THAT's a biggie in my mind. I would probably go for it.

  9. Thanks for your input Connie. We've decided to keep looking though. The house just isn't workable for us for multiple reasons. There are lots of homes with land on the market right now, so options are good. We might even end up in another town still. Who knows?! We ARE putting both on the market though. This ought to be interesting!