Buying a homestead

Some of you have followed us on our journey when we previously homesteaded in Oklahoma, and even more of you were some of our best supporters and customers. When we started homesteading in Oklahoma we tried to document the journey, as well as shine a light on the process. It is so hard to find the right place to homestead. Especially when you have the noise of everyone else’s thoughts and opinions on what you should do and how you should do it. If you are looking for me to tell you what to do, this is not it. What I will tell you is how WE did it. And what our thought process was like. This will not be an exhaustive list of everything you should do either. And I’m sure there will be lots of people who firmly believe that I didn’t do enough. I’m all about doing the best you can with what you got according to the resources you have available. In the end you will have to trust and let the Holy Spirit be your guide. We are going to jump past the obvious of budgeting for land, and infrastructure to analyze etc. For us our budget doesn’t allow that privilege. I’m going to come from the angle of raw land with zero infrastructure. Maybe it will have a cabin or a run down house or mobile home. Maybe it will have a barn. Those are all bonuses for us but not deal breakers. Sweat equity anyone?! Grab a cup of coffee, get comfy and let’s chat.

So, you think you found the right land. You have walked the property multiple times, your heart swoons and skips a beat. You can already envision all the chickens, cows, pigs, and gardens. You have already done your pros, and cons, and now you have an accepted offer. For some, it becomes a waiting game on when to close, for others it’s a shopping spree of getting all the homestead stuff. For others, like myself, I find my computer and I start the research. I heavily scour things like zoning, setbacks, restrictions, soil maps, and more.

In Oklahoma things were so much easier. We had the perfect realtor. I got his permission, so I’m going to do a name drop and get much more personal. A good realtor makes or breaks any deal. In Maine we struggled in that department. But in Oklahoma Mr. Russell Guilfoyil made things happen on our behalf. That man saved us some major dough. He knew land prices, he knew the area and he respected our budget. And even then he still worked his magic and brought us even under that budget number. All in all he saved us 7k off the listing price because he knew the value of wooded versus cleared. Not many realtors know the difference and they focus on selling you THE house but not the actual usage of the property. He knew we wanted something usable. He also got the seller to include the survey. Saving us another $700. So we were able to get to the property and start fencing. My number one tip is find an experienced farming/ranching realtor. We desperately needed a Mr. Guilfoyil here in Maine. If you’re looking for a realtor in Oklahoma then you need him. Our family will never look at property in that area without him. There is much to be said about someone who loves dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s as much as I do. I love it when people are so painstakingly thorough. I was also privileged to have him by our side when we sold and he brought us top dollar. Honey, he will get you every last penny for your blood sweat and tears. We even had a legal description encroachment error from a certain neighbor and he sniffed and hunted them down like a hunter his prey. Trust me, you want him. You can click here for a link to his business page https://www.facebook.com/RusSellsok or call him (918) 812-5795.

After you have an amazing realtor, our next step is making a call to the town planning commission and/or zone board to find out about building, and animal restrictions etc. For me this is the lengthiest part of my research. I’m not content with just hearing back from them. I go much deeper. If there is any water resource on the property I’m calling all government agencies to double check all the restrictions. I make a call to the following departments such as Fish and Wildlife(local game warden), USDA/NRCS, Army Corp of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Quality, as well as my town zoning board. And I make sure to double check and cross reference what every single one of them says, as well as pull up hard copies online and save them. It can be a costly mistake if you have a significant wetland and want to put a pergola, landscaping or fence and they make you pay thousands to restore the area to previous condition. If you are interested in the benefits of a wetland on a homestead let me know in the comments below and we can definitely continue this conversation even more. But back to what I was saying previously, you definitely want to know about setbacks or even possible future septic issues that could cost a lot more than what is the norm. Once I make it past all preliminary zoning issues, then I allow myself to get to the exciting part. Soil Mapping! (And everyone’s significant other groans.) Don’t worry I will keep it brief.

Oh, how I love soil mapping. It makes my heart sing. It is the secret to my success. Soil is the key to how well your homestead and farm will run. It tells you where your low spots are, the ideal area to drill a well, what kind of soil you’re facing(such as clay or hydric soils), it gives you insight into the best spots for gardens and orchards, rainfall, and frost free days. I love that I can measure my land in terms of acreage and start laying things out preliminarily. I can make my list of things to watch for after we move, such as how well things drain and the slope of the land. That first year is crucial. I firmly believe in not doing anything permanent until you have at least a year to check the area and see where your high and low spots are. The perfect spot based off of a soil map might not be the best in reality. But it gives you a good idea. The USDA in conjunction with Web Soil Survey has almost 100 percent of the nation and its counties mapped out. When mapping out our property I was already able to see where the wetland begins and ends, and which part of our land has poor drainage or rocky soil. Very important if you still have to install septic and a well. Please don’t assume too much with the soil map. You will still need to send soil samples off for testing to figure out what soil amendments are possibly needed for optimal pasture growth and production, as well as for future gardens and orchards. Click the link below to take you to the Soil mapping website to plug in your address and discover the hidden secrets of your current or future homestead.
https://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm

After looking at our homestead I now know what our family must accomplish to restore or build soil structure on our land. My last tip to offer is to remind you how important having a survey is. I cannot stress the importance of knowing and confirming what you are buying. You know that beautiful 52 acres I have been talking about? Guess what? After having the survey we found out that it wasn’t 52 but 39 acres. And because we hadn’t closed yet, we were just in time to send in a counter offer, and submit the offer to the town office to get the taxes adjusted accordingly. My heart hurts for the seller who paid the price for 52 acres and spent over 20 years paying inflated taxes. You can save so much money ahead of time knowing the full picture of exactly what you are getting. For us it wasn’t a deal breaker. We hope to find a few more acres in the future as we grow. What was most important was not over paying for the property. Like I said this is not an exhaustive list but I hope maybe you found some part of it beneficial to you. Let me know your thoughts below. What are some of the things you did in preparation of buying your homestead property?

11 thoughts on “Buying a homestead

  1. You’re like the super sleuth of sustainable, regenerative homesteading, and you’re off to an amazing start! I can’t follow my own dream anymore, but I look forward to reading your blog. God speed!

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  2. I’m so excited to hear about this journey! Thank you for sharing. I’m keeping you and your family in my heart and hoping for wonderful things for you all! ❤️

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  3. That is an very interesting experience you have had. I would never guess you could believe you are purchasing more land that what you actually are. They must not have been making payments to a bank or other financial institution. They would require the survey before loaning any money. Must have been seller financed but just guessing.
    When we purchased out property we were not thinking in terms of homesteading. We primarily were wanting to move to the country.
    That being said we did hire an attorney to look over the abstract of the property. In there our attorney found a place where the property was transferred after the death of one of the previous owners. The way it was done there was a possibility that a relative could have clamed ownership of the property. He did what ever was necessary to make sure we had free and clear ownership of this property.
    Doing due diligence is very important.

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    1. In Maine mortgage inspections are the norm. They only verify if house, septic and outbuildings are there for the lender. Lots of heartbreak up here from my understanding when a survey is finally done. Surveyors are few and far in-between. Ours drove 3 hours to get here, and cost 4k. This survey did not include pin and stakes. It was only a survey to give us an idea on acreage and map out any features etc. A full survey would of been $6800. Once we have saved up a bit, we hope to do a pin stake then.

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