Though it can take some time, finding your property can be fun. And it can be rewarding in other ways. There is no hurry. There are always deals to be had. Time spent up front can refine your features list and build familiarity with the market, which will help you identify a truly good deal. We’ll take a look at some ways to help in your homestead search.
See notes below.
A Little House Cleaning
In the previous episode, Choosing a Region, I forgot to mention a few important considerations:
Income, sales and real estate taxes can vary greatly across states, counties and municipalities. If you want to keep more of your hard-earned money, you may want to take taxes into account when selecting your homestead location. This map may be a helpful guide for taxes: State-by-State Guide to Taxes. A low income tax rate is one of the reasons we are in Alabama. Low real estate taxes is why we live in Talladega County.
Cost of Living
The cost of living can swing significantly from state to state, and from urban to rural areas. Take a look at this map to see which areas may be more affordable: A map of the most expensive and cheapest states to live. This is another reason we live in Alabama.
This map of population distribution in the United States was an important factor in our moving to Idaho and is still an significant reason why we live where we do now.
Finding Your Property
Now, with your features list in hand, you are now ready to find your property. Take notes on properties. This can help you refine and prioritize your features list. Apart from using the power of the internet to assist in finding your property, here are a few more suggestions:
This is one of our favorite ways to look for properties. It is “quality time” for us. It gives us plenty of opportunity for deep discussions, including those about our future property. It also helps:
- Become familiar with the market
- Find for-sale-by-owners that aren’t listed anywhere else except a sign in the yard. Some of the best deals aren’t even listed for sale.
- Get the “feel” of different areas
Get the Word Out
- Network – Let your family, friends and co-workers know you are in the market and what you are looking for
- Post on craigslist, Facebook, local papers, etc
Finding Your Property via Online Search Tools
Knock on Doors
Don’t be afraid to knock on doors – again, some of the best deals aren’t even listed for sale. And you aren’t just purchasing a piece of property. You are buying into a neighborhood. So, get to know your potential neighbors.
Real Estate Agents
- As a buyer, a real estate agent is available at no charge to you, but never sign an exclusive with a buyers agent. And, as a buyer, there is nothing to keep you from using multiple agents.
- Bad ones will waste your time and money. The rare good one will save both.
Be careful with foreclosed properties:
- Right of Redemption – varies by state
- Banks can tie up large cash earnest payments
- Banks are often in no hurry
If you are looking at a distant location, consider a move to a temporary home (rent, family, friends) to become familiar with the area, get a job and research properties. It may even be better to purchase a cheap interim property to get settled into an area.
It takes a little vision to see potential in a property – some of the best properties are the “worst” properties. A “little update” can take nearly as much time and money as an extensive one.
Continuing the Selecting a Homestead Location series, we will cover Evaluating a Specific Property.