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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I was talking with someone at work who mentioned to me about an acreage that's for sale near town.
So now, I'm planning on going to call the realitor and schedule a time to see the property, but I've never owned my own land before, so i'd appreciate any tips and advice about things to look for when I do head out to see it.


Things that I know about the property currently:

It's 15 acres of land that runs along a creek for a short way.
It has a double wide trailer/modular home that sits on a basement which is 8 feet deep/tall.
It used to be a vet cliinic several years ago so the barn on the property was converted into the clinic building, but aparently is designed so that it can be reverted back into a stable/barn again, along with a small section that could be turned into a living quarters.
There seems to be a 3rd building on property, but I'm unsure what that's been used for.

Most, if not all of the property is fenced in, with several smaller paddocks within it.
Fencing is made of wood and most of it is so old that it's starting to lean inward and fall in on itself.
Most of the property is forested, but there are 2 cleared lots. One lot has a section of very gentle rolling hills but then is flat.
It's been on the market for the last 2 years with no one living in it.
Reason it hasn't sold is because it's across from a wood mill and people think the mill is too noisy, but in reality, it's not bad at all. In fact, you wouldn't even notice the noises if you're focused on doing something else so it's not that bad.



My Thoughts on it so far

Since I want to start up a rescue in the next few years, this would honestly be a great place. It's literally 2 minutes from town, so it really saves on gas, especially if I have to haul horses in to the vet. Fencing may be old, but it's made of good wood and I know someone who would no doubt buy it if it's too far gone to correct and continue using. So I'd get some money back that way and put towards new fencing.

It would take a bit of work to convert the clinic back into a stable, but it's large enough to potentially have 4 to 8 stalls roughly and when starting up, could have people board horses there and make a bit of extra cash that way.
I also have several uncles that do construction related work with buildings and such, so i'd be able to hire them most likely to help turn it into a stable. Then I'd know for one thing, that it'd be done right on the first go around, plus it'd potentially be a bit cheaper since it's family, though I'd be willing to pay what they'd want for a job like that since it'll be a lot of work.

The fencing in some of the pens is still good enough that I'd be able to bring my horses there right aways, so i wouldn't have to worry about boarding them anywhere until the fencing has been changed/fixed everywhere. And there's enough space on the rest of the property that it would perfect for running a rescue. There's also no equine rescue in my town, so we'd have a special spot that way.

The place is also near a busy highway, and while the noise might be a tad annoying at first, I think it could also be useful. By having vehicles constantly passing nearby, horses would get desensitized to traffic and noise which will help them in their futures when getting rehomed.



So what are your guys thoughts on this place for a rescue to be located?
I know it'll probably take a year or two after I get the place before it'd really become a rescue, but having the property would be a good start.
Tomorrow I'll be giving the people a call to try to schedule a time to go look at it myself and see what shape things are really in.
Though Here are two pics I got when I stopped by to get the number off the sale sign at the end of the drive way. I'll try to get better ones when I go to see it for real.
Also, i do plan to take someone more experienced with me when I go to look as well since this will be my first time looking at property.


 

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Things I would want to know:
1. Mobile home on a basement? Is that even legal? Safe? That sounds super scary to me.
2. Is it on septic or sewer? If septic, how old is the septic? You'll need to get an inspection of that thing.
3. City water or well water?
4. Are there any reasons you couldn't convert the forest to pasture? Where we're buying our (hopefully) new place, it's really hard to develop any new property now because of all the restrictions (can't develop within 250 feet of a water source or steep hill, etc.). Specifically, if there is already forest there but it's in one of their many non-development zones, well, too bad for you. You can't just clear it.
5. If you'll need to borrow money to buy it, can you find a lending company that will finance a piece of property like this? Have you talked to any lending companies and started with pre-approval?
6. It's never too soon to start learning about pasture, land, water, and manure management (if you haven't already started).
7. Speaking of all of that, if it's on well water I'd make sure that water has been tested. Maybe also the creek water. Creek water can change from day to day, but if you think the horses might be drinking out of it, I'd want to know what's in it. Especially near a paper mill.
8. The place we're looking to buy, the fenceline isn't on the property line. Maybe that's common in non-urban areas? It makes me crazy. You'll probably need to get the place surveyed anyway, so when you do, make sure you ask the surveyers where the property lines are relative to the fencelines.
9. I would make sure the paper mill isn't the only reason it hasn't sold. Around here, and also where we're trying to buy, if something had been on the market for two years there would have to be multiple serious issues with it.

I think the location near town is great. If you want to run a rescue, I bet you'll have an easier time finding volunteers if you're close in like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That's a pretty good checklist! Thanks. I'll definitely write those down so I have them on hand and can ask when I head out to see the property.
 

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Add on to that list what your zoning for county, state and town is for water run-off from the land...
You're talking about a rescue and or boarding horses and being close to moving water, a creek.
There are often very particular laws about streams and such you must comply with at all levels of government...
Your septic may also fall in those rules followed.


Not knowing what winters are like for you, that rolling countryside may look beautiful in 3 seasons of the year but be a horror in winter cold..
And you must, MUST find out about flood plains and flooding from a water rise on the creek come bad storms and or winter run-off...
There may be hidden reasons why such property has not moved... :|

Zoning also needs to be acceptable to running a business, whether boarding horses or having a rescue you must be properly zoned to operate either or forget becoming "legal" and that puts a squash to some of your plans.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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15 acres and most forested would say that the carrying capacity is low. You'd be feeding year round to preserve what little grass may be available to keep it in grass. Everyone else has brought up good points. Find out the maximum you can keep and what you can realistically do with the land. Can you remove trees? How many? Know that clearing if not done properly can result in problems further down the road. As a rescue you can't have a bleeding heart taking in everything that needs a home or you'll soon be in trouble and the animals will suffer. Ask yourself how easy it is to say no.
 

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Here are some caveats: most people don't make money from boarding. Boarders often loose (or take) your stuff, leave gates open, have rude or noisy friends who arrive at your bedtime, don't pay their board, have horses that destroy your fences and stalls, have horses that bully your horses, create barn drama, or let their horses get injured or ill and refuse to get the vet. Barn hands or volunteers are notorious for not doing what they are supposed to do and require a lot of supervision.

Another concern I have is the nearness to the highway. Most of us who have had horses all our lives have a horror story of a horse or horses that got out and got hit. Especially if you have volunteers or boarders . . . who "thought" they latched the gate properly.

Be wary of mold. Stachytbotrys mold is deadly and usually the building must be destroyed. An uninhabited house could be harboring dangerous mold.

On the other hand, I wish and hope for you that it all works out perfectly!
 

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It has potential and sounds great, but here are a few things that jump out to me. They may have been covered by others already; I get popups on my phone so didn't read through everything first!

- Financing can be very difficult for a mobile home. It varies by area, but the first thing you need to do is find out if financing is even available for this property. We looked at a similar place several years ago--- nice land, buildings, fencing, but the home was a mobile home and a traditional home loan was unavailable because of that. We would have been able to do a short loan on the land itself, but the home wasn't able to be financed. We would have liked to build another house on the land, but without the loan financing, the purchase wasn't feasible for us to pay off in the five-year span that was offered. Sometimes having a basement under such a home qualifies it as a 'permanent home' and financing can thus go forth; it varies state to state and county to county, so find out before you get your hopes up. As to a basement under a mobile home-- it's pretty common around here due to tornadic storms. A mobile home is a death trap, so unless you like taking your family elsewhere every time severe weather pops up, you build a basement under part or all of the home. That extra living space is often crucial, too. If you purchase, have the home and basement/foundation inspected to be sure everything was properly done and supported.

Also, be aware that a mobile home is one of the few types of housing that depreciate rather than appreciate in value. Should you decide to sell in the future, you may find yourself with a worthless home that's going to mean selling far below what a traditional home on the property would go for, and if a mobile home doesn't qualify for a traditional home loan, your buyer pool is going to be very limited. You can also use this to your advantage if you offer on this property--- it's not comparable price-wise to a similar property with a permanent home, so you may be able to get it for less. However, have a big down payment (ie half the purchase price) or you're likely to end up upside down on your mortgage-- owing more than your current home is worth as it depreciates.

Mobile homes are also difficult to repair and the older ones had dangerous wiring. A mobile home sitting empty deteriorates at alarming speed. Be sure everything is in good condition and SAFE or you're better off looking elsewhere, having the house moved and replaced, or buying the land/buildings and building a traditional home.

- I wouldn't count on boarding as an income stream. You can do it, but use any income as 'extra money' not 'must have money'. Board to pay for your vacation, not to help with the property payments or necessary expenses. Insurance will also skyrocket once your farm turns from your personal property to a commercial/income property. For many, the insurance negates any income from boarding. Being next to a busy road is also a danger, even if it's only your horses. Throw in boarders, and you'll need to add additional fencing so a loose horse cannot get onto the road. Remember that you, as property owner, are generally liable even if someone else leaves a gate open should a horse be hit on the road and cause an accident, injury, or death to someone else. For boarding or a rescue, you'll need a quarantine area, so is there room for that? Are you allowed to build more structures?

- What does this stream do when it floods? With weather getting more extreme, this is crucial. Even if it's never flooded up to the buildings, how much further would it have to go to affect that? Flooded buildings and even pasture can be rendered unusable very quickly. Mold, deterioration, bacteria that settle on everything and taint the ground, etc. are all issues. We have a lot of land in our area that is worthless after catastrophic flooding this spring. It's covered in 10" of bacteria-laden sand from pollution upriver; and now nothing is growing on it, and it's dangerous for people or animals to come into contact with it.

- Your forested land is not going to produce grass in the near future, even if you are allowed to clear it. Check zoning. You may not be allowed to clear anything or to add more buildings or fencing or even repair existing if it's now within a certain distance from the creek or hillside. How many horses are you allowed to have on this property? We looked at one property that had a 10 stall barn and tons of paddocks and fencing, only to find that new zoning laws now limited it to no more than 2 horses for the entire property.
 

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The mobile home doesn't constitute having a permit for a permanent home so you'd need to look into that.
Septic location might throw up some problems if there's a river running along the length of it
You'd also need to look into the local zoning laws as to how many horses you could keep on it
Some insist on only taking into account the acres that can be used for grazing - so not denser woodland, wetland or yard and home area.
Would it able to get a business permit if you wanted to use it as a rescue or boarding you'd need one.
 

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That's a good point people are making about the creek maybe flooding. You can usually find floodplain maps online. One other thing that probably isn't an issue for you, but I'll toss it out anyways, is that if there is a dam upstream of that creek, large amounts of water could be released when you don't expect it, and create more of a flood than is even in the normal floodplain. This happened to us where we used to board -- the tiny cute ittle creek anyone (even my Civic) could just drive over became a roaring river that was not crossable by anyone, in any way, a couple of times. The barn area didn't flood, and fortunately there was a back entrance to the property so we could still access the horses (although we couldn't have gotten them out if it had been necessary, unless we had ridden them out, as the back entrance wasn't a road, it was just through someone else's pasture). So when I was looking at this place I wanted to buy, I made sure it had two possible exits. This isn't just for flooding, it's in case of fire too, or anything else that would make your main entrance inaccessible.
 
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Things I would want to know:
1. Mobile home on a basement? Is that even legal? Safe? That sounds super scary to me.
Actually, in our town, permanent foundations are (were?) required for mobile homes by zoning.

Other than this, lots of good point so far. The stream was the thing that leapt out at me, both for potential of floods (and don't count on old flood maps to necessarily be accurate in the future, use common sense and add in a margin of error), and the possibility of regulations to protect water quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Saw the property today.

I'm not even sure where to start honestly. Almost everything about it says "no", but my heart is screaming "yes". The place does need a ton of work, but there's so much potential in it! I can honestly see a lot of different things to do with it and just how great of a place it could be.


Things wrong:

Very old trailer. It's a double wide and hasn't been lived in, in about a year or two. There are 7 bedrooms total, with 2.5 bathrooms. There's a basement below it as well. It's an old trailer from back when they made them with only 4 inch thick walls, so that means there's also more maintnence with the roof as well during the winter. Some of the bedrooms closet doors have scribbles on them since there used be kids in the place. One wall has a hole in it like someone punched it or something, but it's not too serious/bad. The place is outdated though, as it has those old pink and blue themed bathrooms. The sinks and toilets don't look that great anymore and I don't much care for the bathtubs either. But it would be possible to take this trailer off and replace it with a new one. It also has a large deck and a hot tub but it's unknown if the hot tub works.

Fencing is old and starting to lean in/fall down in places so is currently unsafe to move animals into. So fencing would need to be replaced in most areas.

Located next to the highway with a wood mill across from the place so there is constant noise, but it's no more noisy than when you live in town and have the traffic to listen to.

Creek boarders the back end of the property. Potential of some flooding, and property may not be fenced off back there as it's in a treed area.

Area is on Agricultural deemed land. Means that if there's any sort of business on the land, it has to be agricultural related or else will most likely be refused. Though this isn't that big of a concern for myself personally.

The clinic would take a bit to rework as it's all made out of cement. There's a kennel in one room, One stall for where livestock was held/examined, and some other random rooms. Almost like a maze though not nearly as easy to get lost in lol. Aweful color scheme in there too.



Things right:

Basement under the trailer is quite nice and very spacious. Could be great to use with a new trailer over them, or to have attached to a proper house built over top. Honestly, the quailty isn't the worst I've seen for trailers. Sure it needs work, but it's not awful or unlivable.

There's a 2 vehicle garage which is quite nice, with extra space to have tools or store things and so on.

The clinic could be re purposed into many things. It could be converted into a house. It could be converted back into a barn with stalls. It could be turned into an indoor arena. The possibliities are endless really. And the front reiceving part would be great as a place for people to go into when arriving once the place turns into a rescue. Could even use it to have other products for sale, such as tack, horse items, or other stuff. There's of course power through the thing since it was a vet clinic and running water.

There's a lagoon, which is in great, healthy working order. Water comes from a well that's located behind the clinic/barn.

Only 2 minutes from town. Never have to deal with unplowed roads since it's along the highway.

Gate at the end of the driveway so don't have to deal with unwanted visitors.

A decent chunk of the land is cleared. There are shelters for animals as well. There's actually also a chicken pen.
Also, I can clear as many trees as I like, there is no limit to that. It'd be my land so i can do with it as I please basically.



Thoughts:

Honestly, I can see so much potential with this place! There's enough flat ground that I could set up a round pen. I could create an indoor arena. There's room to build or move in a new house. The land is beautiful.
Walking through that place, I couldn't help but feel excited and in love with it. I can see it becoming a beautiful and wonderful place. However, it's very much a project place. And where I'm at, I wouldn't be able to improve anything very quickly. So it'd be a long, drawn out process.

So I'm thinking I'll try to book a few other places to look at as well. If nothing else, I may wait another year or so as well. I'm not sure. When on the property, I fell in love with it. But as you can see, there's a lot of reasons why not to get the place.
 

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If you hear a scream no, listen. Please look at a lot of other places first.

Project properties are best for young able-bodied people with a lot of time, money, and skills. If you lack any of those three, keep looking for something easier.

Forested land is beautiful but unless you are a forester, useless. It takes about five years of hard work to turn forest into pasture or cropland. Living in a forest when what you need is pasture is frustrating, something I know from personal experience.

Make a short list of must haves for horse keeping to take with you while looking at property. Things like good fences can be built fairly easily. Well-drained sunny pastures cannot. Highway and mill noise will never go away, and continual noise is wearing for people and animals, whether it is consciously heard or not.

We moved last year to a place that had been on the market for five years and vacant for two. It had been ridiculously overpriced, the back lawn was becoming a beaver pond, the neglected pastures were fenced with sagging barbed wire, and the house itself is an enormous ancient pile with a laundry-list of deferred maintenance and poorly-executed upgrades. I gave up my idea of building a small eco-house because of the wonderful stable, easily-recoverable pastures, the lovely quiet, and the trails right out the door. I have not regretted it for one second. But we looked at many many properties before we found this one. We learned what the common issues in country properties around here were, and developed over time a sense of what we really had to have, what we could fix, and what could not be fixed. You need to do that too.

It is also super helpful to find a realtor who is smart and experienced enough to find properties with a chance of working for what you need.
 

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Wow...
Interpretation to what you wrote of makes it seem a red herring and run away from property.
Everyone sees things differently but I see so much work, so long to accomplish you must afford the outside help and lots of it...

Very old trailer = $60,000++ minimum to replace + expense to have existing carted off.
You might not be able to get homeowners on something of this age...:|
Your idea of what it costs to re-purpose a building back to or to change its original intent = very, very large sums of money
A lagoon behind the clinic/barn...:|
Are you referring to a working fountain or some sort of natural water accumulation spot?
Huge to me is that its a flood issue in weather changing months of over-abundance that is/could undermine a foundation or flood out that current building, rendering unusable...
Across the road from a sawmill noise may not seem like much...you never get used to having unending noise at decibels hurtful to hearing and rest...saws are deafening and the trucking, machinery used to move and haul..:frown_color:
Does the sawmill ever shut down or run 24/7?
I lived next to a major highway that never slept...had no idea how un-rested I was till we moved away to a "normal" environment of daily noises...
Roads being accessible and snow-plowed...obviously you have never lived on a road where the snow from commercial road clearing plows deposits snow 8' high and 20' off the road in weight that you need commercial tractors, snow-blowers and such to move, cause you're not hand shoveling it. {I lived on Long Island where snowfalls were not huge either!}
Fencing add $30,000+ to remove and replace it all so you can bring in borders...
Oh...and any street fencing you can expect to replace several times a year from the car that went through it during the night..at your expense. :frown_color:
Add the snowplows snow-load breaking it from force as they whizz past in winter storms...if ice storms it is even worse! :frown_color:

To me, this is a money-pit...just keep sinking it in.
Whatever the asking price is....
Now add $65,000+ to make it a nice home that is safe and energy efficient for you to live in, to go to to rest after working hard all day
Add the expense of fencing needing done immediately to bring home yours...finish it correctly if you want boarders or a rescue set-up cause you're only going to do it once with the money it shall cost.
Converting a old building to something different is something engineers need consulted on to remove, replace walls...
You're going to need electrical work done too as soon as you change anything...more money.
Septic...abandoned and old homes can guarantee septic needs complete replacing = $10,000 as it needs done to today's codes.
Potable water...today to get a mortgage you need water testing = possibility of new well and deep since you have stream with unknown if any pollutants and are near the water table ground-zero.
Or to connect to city resources may be mandatory and cost mega-bucks to do for connection and then monthly use charges...

The property may call out to you but you need to use ear-plugs while you think with head not heart.
Quickly figuring...
Cost to buy the place...
Now add...
$150 -$200,000++ in extra expenses to bring it up to truly living standards and something to attract business of boarders or meet requirements of a true state backed/accredited rescue facility...now who finds that $ but your pocket as many rescues do not ever have enough in financial donations...
You're going to have to bring in the professionals to do much of this since you need licensing numbers and signatures of work done according to code to inhabit, insure and be safe for you, for guests and for all animal inhabitants to dwell here.

Looking at the total money put out... :shock: :shock:
That opens up a huge amount of property to go see, much of it would be turn-key operations at that whopping amount of $ invested.
Remember through all of this...
You need to hold down near full-time job to pay mortgage and monthly bills as boarding barns and rescues notoriously do not run in the financial black but run blood red in debt color...sorry.
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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Unless this is so under-budget you have $150,000 or more free and clear money to sink into it right away, I'd walk away. By free and clear I mean 'in the bank' not available with a loan or tied up in assets.

- the trailer will have to be replaced. If it's that old, it likely has the aluminum wiring that is extremely dangerous. A fire in a mobile home is a death trap, even if you're home at the time. They go up in seconds. From your description, I would consider this home unlivable, so you're basically looking at a run-down property with no residence on it. Few are the financers that will finance a run-down mobile home property.

- unless you can get the sellers to do it for you, removing a home and replacing it is a bigger deal than you'd think, especially over a basement. Go see some modular/mobile home sellers and get an idea of what the costs would be for the home and upgrades you want, as well as getting it on-site and set up. You may find it's affordable, but it may not be.

- by lagoon do you mean manmade pond or swampy spot that doesn't drain and will attract mosquitoes and flood when it rains? Has the water been tested? Do you need to hook up to city water? How's the septic system? Are you sure this lagoon is even legal or is it over the septic because the system is shot and it doesn't drain anymore?

- redoing the clinic building can be very cost prohibitive. Get an estimate on the upgrades you would want to make from a contractor before you even offer on this property.

- a loud, busy sawmill across the road would be a dealbreaker for me. Why live in the country if you're on a busy road with noise? That's all the hassle and disadvantages of living in the country with NONE of the advantages. Properties close to town and industrial businesses also end up annexed by the city and rezoned a lot more frequently than you'd think. If that happens, you may find yourself with an albatross of a farm you can't have horses on, or a business. Add in people who stop along the road and feed your horses or harass them, drive off the road through your fences when it's icy, and you can see why a horse property right near town isn't always as great as it seems.

I agree with horselovingguy- for the amount of money you'll need to put into this, it sounds like you very well could afford a turn-key property without the problems for the same, or even less, cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you everyone, for your input. It's been great hearing advice from people who are more experienced in looking for property.

I actually found another place for sale that has fewer acres, but could work as well. Also it's not a fixer upper like this last property is.
Here's a link to the thread I started for that one to avoid having things get too tangled in between the two of them. Also have a lot more pictures of the new place as well.

https://www.horseforum.com/farm-forum/potential-property-take-2-a-804419/#post1970726647
 
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