I’ve been a bit quieter than usual, but for good reason. We’re officially looking for our next farm.
This will be the next-to-last farm we will ever own, so we’re putting a lot of thought into what we’re getting. I say “next-to-last” because eventually my husband will retire and we’ll bug off the East Coast entirely. That’s 15-20 years in the future, though, so we want this new place to be pretty close to perfect. We also want to be able to sell it at some point, so we need to make wise decisions about price/location/facilities/etc.
My husband and I are middle aged and for the most part we’ve made pretty sound financial decisions, so we’ve got about a million dollars to spend on a property. Going into this, I thought it would be a piece of cake to find a nice farm for $1 mil, give or take. I was so, so wrong.
Here is a short list of things that I would like to have on my $1 million farm that I have not been able to find:
1) A house that is not one stiff wind gust away from being condemned.
2) Fences that are not actively falling down.
3) No surprise graveyards. (This probably needs to be its own post)
4) A barn that doesn’t reek of 30 years of piss.
We’ve looked at several properties, and none of them could meet this very simple criteria. Now we’re looking at “fixer uppers” that cost half that. Yes, it will cost money to “fixer upper” them, but we’d be spending the same amount to fix up the million dollar “turnkey farms”.
Here’s a short list of the shit I’ve seen so far:
Farm 1: 10 acres. House is good (as in, not falling down). Fences are only 4′ tall, but are not falling down. Owner has put ceramic tile in the barn aisle. When questioned, he says “I got tired of painting it.” (Why was he painting it?) This is the first red flag. Red flag number two comes when we ask about the low spot on the property and he says, “That’s where I dump the manure, it’s just a stream”. Dumping manure in a stream is a massive EPA violation, hard pass. EPA violations are no joke, I’ll have to pay to remediate that!
Farm 2: 20 acres. Gorgeous property. House needs updating, barn is small. We can work with it. The property has also been ravaged by their teenaged children, as evidenced by the broken doors, broken glass on the patio, and multitude of discarded solo cups across the property. They haven’t had horses in awhile so things are starting to fall apart, and their asking price is not even remotely close to reality. (Literally $1 million over what it’s worth). Turns out they took out a loan for way more than the property is worth last year, and now they can’t sell it unless they get that money back. We’re still going to make an offer, but I doubt they’ll take it.
Farm 3: 10 acres. Indoor arena and 10 stall barn, Outdoor arena, Fenced. Looks great in pictures. Until you get there and see that the fence posts are completely rotten and the boards are literally falling down. Both the indoor and outdoor arena have footing that’s been ruined, they’re complete tear outs, and they’re tiny (not remotely close to the full dressage ring). Then, we find out that the property is part of a “conservancy”. This means that as the structures fall apart, we can’t fix them. Also, the house needs a new roof, new siding, and all new windows. They think the selling point is the “conservancy”, that says Hard Pass.
Farm 4: (This is where “surprise graveyards” was added to the list). 15 acres. Nice barn, fences are rotted and falling down. We pull in, there’s actual tombstones on the property, I can see them from my vehicle. This is actually not a deal breaker, but when I ask their realtor about the tombstones, he says, “Oh, ummmm, I think the sellers collect antiques?” Now, there are a ton of regulations when it comes to dead people, and one of them is that you can’t just collect their tombstones as “antiques”. Another one is that if you have graves on your property you have to provide public access to the graves. The realtor should know that. The actual deal-breaker was that the house, which was from 1772, had ceilings that were so low I could touch them flat footed at 5’3, and my 5’10 husband felt claustrophobic.
This isn’t even the complete list, stay tuned for my next installment.