Time for another edition of BUY THAT FARM! 🙂
This listing appeared online just a few days ago. It was for an old farmhouse with 18 acres of land, for a very good price per acre. The listing said that the house had been built in 1890, and needed extensive repair. It has a natural spring as the water source, and according to Google Earth, a big portion of the land had been logged and was mostly clear.
The location was good, the price was reasonable, and I was hoping that the home wasn’t in as bad shape as the agent said. “Extensive repair” could mean a lot of things depending on the point of view of the speaker…it could mean something as simple as “the cabinets are dated and the floors are scuffed” all the way to “death trap on the verge of collapse”. So off we went to check it out!
Observation #1 was that there was a train track along the edge of the property, running only about 20 ft from the front of the house. Minor negative. After driving down the gravel driveway by the tracks, the first building we encountered was some kind of old accessory building. It had partially collapsed and was deteriorated beyond hope, but it had one cool feature: a horse hitching post in front! Had this been some sort of hotel or store in the (distant) past? Neat!
As for the actual home, the house looked GREAT from the outside. It was a huge white plantation style home, with two stories and tall columns on the front porch. It had obviously been inhabited recently, because it had modern vinyl siding and a satellite dish on the side. (PS, that’s my dad in the pic.)
The house was locked, so we couldn’t go inside…but honestly, I don’t think we would have wanted to if we could. A peek in the windows revealed that it was bad. I mean BAD. I’m genuinely surprised that it wasn’t condemned.
Apparently the spring behind the house had increased its output in the recent past, and the ground under the home was turned from solid ground into a near swamp. You could smell the mold even from outside the door. All of the visible floors were warped and collapsing, and there was black mold everywhere. I couldn’t get good pictures through the (moldy) windows, but I did find an old dog door to stick my head in and get this lovely shot of the ceiling.
So right away, I knew the home wasn’t salvageable. I’m pretty sure no amount of repair could compensate for the fact that the house was sitting in a permanent swamp. Even if you spent the money to fix it up, it would just start rotting again in a few years. Not to mention the constant risk of flooding every time it rained. Here’s a shot of the bottom of the back door, where the door frame and foundation are rotting away.
We decided to look around the property a bit more while we digested this information. We found the spring behind the house, in a little brick building by the edge of the woods. The entire area around it was flooded and soggy.
The main acreage was up a hill, where a huge section of trees had been logged, probably about a decade ago. We hiked up and found a lovely, private meadow, completely hidden and surrounded by trees. Lots of shrubs and weeds and sticker bushes had grown up since the timber was cut down, but that can be bush- hogged fairly easily to get clear land again.
As we were hiking up the hill, we startled a wild turkey, who flew off in a hurry. I peeked in the brush where it had appeared from, and found a nest! The turkey had been sitting on a clutch of eggs. Don’t worry, I didn’t touch them or get too close. 🙂
Obviously we didn’t walk the entire 18 acres, but I think I got a good feel for the property in the hour or so we were there.
-natural water source
-county electricity hookup available
-lots of potential pasture
-love the private meadow on the hill
-existing home is 100% unusable
-train track runs right by property
-a road would have to be excavated up the hillside to get a car to the meadow
-paying full price for land with no house doesn’t leave much money for anything else
FINAL VERDICT: Undecided.
The house being a disaster was a big disappointment, but this property has a lot going for it. Should I risk spending a lot on land with no usable dwelling? Or wait to see if I can find something else with a good house? 18 acres is fantastic, but the price doesn’t leave me much room to buy or build a home, put up fences, buy livestock etc. Honestly, money is the only issue here…if I had plenty of it, I would buy this property. Right now this land is a bit of a mess, but it has major potential and could be a very nice farm with some work.
My gut is telling me to pass, but I’m definitely going to keep thinking about it…