Monday, May 7, 2012

fab homesteads for sale: an introduction

I'm a certified real estate junkie, so as part of an ongoing series, I thought it would be fun to showcase some listings in our neck of the woods that I feel would make suitable homesteads (I'm not committing to any particular schedule, but maybe once a week). When I say our neck of the woods, I mean both in Tennessee as well as California, but don't get too excited about the California listings because unless you've got tons of money, I don't think there's gonna be much of interest because I only plan to focus on affordable ones where someone could actually homestead (and no, I'm not talking about urban homesteading). While there are certainly some listings that are now affordable on the central coast, very few, if any, would make a good homestead. Tennessee, however, has lots to offer! And because we're so close to the border of Virginia and Kentucky, I'm going to include those areas as well. Pretty much anything good within a hundred-mile radius of Kyles Ford, TN.

Because Kyles Ford is awesome and you should move there and be our neighbors.

Being a real estate junkie means that I feel somewhat qualified to offer a well-rounded opinion on property, but by no means am I an expert. Jay and I have bought three properties in our lifetimes and have learned a lot with each transaction. We bought our first home at the ripe old ages of 21 and 22, our second at 25 and 26, and the holler almost exactly ten years later. Also keep in mind that we haven't actually started homesteading yet. So while we have grand plans for our homestead, those plans are specific to us and may not be the same direction anyone else wants to take. In other words, our land is perfect for us but may not be for other folks.

I thought that maybe once we finally closed on our land, the urge to see what else is out there might fade away. And it really has for the most part because we have exactly what we want. A true success story! But that doesn't mean that I don't think it's still fun to look. I would consider it exceedingly satisfying to help someone else find their homesteading paradise. So why the hell not.

In order to wade through the vast sea of listings available via the MLS, United Country, and FSBOs, especially considering how shitty the housing market is, I will include the follow requisites in my search:
  • Less than $150,000 asking price. Considering the current state of the market, asking price is almost irrelevant. It's definitely a buyer's market, so while this may seem high, it gives more selection. Despite what they say, mortgages are readily available, especially through Farm Credit Services, although you will likely have to put 25% down like we did.
  • 10 or more acres. I suppose you could homestead on as little as a few acres, but where's the fun in that? More acreage means more space to do what you want.
  • A reliable water source in the form of a creek, pond, or well.
  • At least a half acre of south-facing, semi-flat, cleared space for a garden.
  • A habitable structure that includes indoor plumbing, a heat source, and a weather-tight shell. Some people might want to build their dream house someday, and some might be content in a shanty hut for the rest of their days, but I'm guessing that most people don't want to live in a self-contained travel trailer for any great length of time. I'm, therefore, excluding land-only listings unless I come across something super awesome.
  • At least 50% of the land in forest. Trees are important, people. Properties with few trees are boring.
  • No zoning restrictions.
  • Privacy, or at least the potential for it.
  • Open or easily reclaimed areas that can be used for at least a few large livestock animals.
  • Scenic beauty. This is really fucking important.
Part of the fun of property hunting is looking at maps. You know how I love them. So I will include screen shots of aerial imagery (Bing has outdone Google recently in this regard, imagine that) and whatever maps I can find showing topography. I'll also try to find out the current property tax rate as well as list any potential disadvantages to consider in addition to all the cool stuff I think could be done with the land.
I really should have been a real estate agent, but I have zero interest in selling anything, so maybe this will be the next best thing. I tried to find something similar online, to no avail (there could be a very good reason for this, like I'm the only real estate geek out there), so like so many other things (like mountainsteading), you heard about it here first, kids!

Your future homestead hunter,


  1. I'm glad you're doing this --- a lot of our readers ask us to keep an eye out for nearby properties for them, but I just don't enjoy reading the paper. :-)

    I hope you'll also consider including acreages without houses that fit the bill otherwise.

    1. My reason for limiting the search to parcels with a structure is because there are so many land listings, but I think you're right that they should be included. It's probably kind of a long shot, but it would be fun to see if a small income could be derived from it! Like a referral fee from the listing agent or something.

  2. Chasity (you're wannabe;)May 9, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Love it!!!!

  3. What an informative post..please do keep posting..

  4. Oh my goodness! WHEN and where will you post your findings? We have been looking for a homestead for a couple years and your list of attributes is EXACTLY what we've been looking for. SO exciting!!!

  5. Oh my goodness, WHEN and where will you post your findings. I have been looking for a homestead for a couple years now and your list of attributes is EXACTLY what we're looking for. SO exciting!!