Sunday, January 8, 2012

Farm Tour: Six Farm Marathon

I'm still exhausted from my farm tour marathon yesterday: six farms in six hours.

We went prepared and really made the most of the day.  I say "we" because I knew I would need a team to help evaluate this many farms in one day, as well as to help speed along the decision process.  My parents, real estate agent, and K joined me on the adventure.  I'm so grateful for all of the support, because I would have been totally overwhelmed without the additional 4 sets of eyes to pick up on all of the details.

SO, here we go!  A run-through of the properties in order of appearance (sorry a few are missing photographs!).

Location: North Stonington (less than 15 minutes from my parents)
Land: 5.5 acres of mostly flat land (1/2 cleared, 1/2 wooded), somewhat residential
House: Renovated Ranch in immaculate condition (almost too fancy).  3 bedrooms, 4 full baths (yes, you read that correctly).  No outbuildings.
Price: $375,000
Award: Most James Bond-Worthy.  The basement had a hidden, fireproof room for storing very expensive antiques (or aging prosciutto!)

Location: North Stonington (also less than 15 minutes from my parents)
Land: A rock.  Surrounded by beautiful, fertile agricultural land, nearly the entire 8 acres of this property are a stone ledge.  Dope.
House: Beautiful historic farmhouse in need of a good amount of work.   The downstairs was in pretty good condition (featuring a BRIGHT red wallpapered office), but the upstairs was trashed. No outbuildings.
Price: $219,000, as is
Award: Most frightening closet.  I opened it to peek at the storage potential and all I saw were dead animal heads.  This house also won the award for most mouse poop on a bed (I've never seen such a think layer!)

This room was SO bright!

This is what "AS-IS" usually indicates in a listing 

Award for most Horrifying Closet 

Location: North Stonington (about 20 minutes from my parents)
Land: 5.5 acre former horse farm...totally trashed.  They trucked in tons of sand for a "pony party" arena, and the back acre or so was wetlands.
House: A new (2004) colonial-style home in horrible condition.  The upstairs was one large master suite, with a second very small bedroom.  I've had pneumonia all week and my one lung couldn't breathe for more than 5 minutes in the house.  The property had several small horse stall/barns - all poorly constructed.
Price: $325,000 (though the real estate agent informed us it was about to go up for short sale...a headache)
Award: Most bathtub figurines.  There were hundreds around the "jacuzzi" tub.

So many figurines! 

Location: Griswold (about 25 minutes from my parents house)
Land: 13 acres, all wooded.  The majority of the land was good, but the house was surrounded by a moat (created from a waterfall and a quickly moving brook), leaving no room for a garden or to keep my chickens close by.  The house was only a few feet from the street, which we would need to travel on in order to get to the usable land.  Additional 6 acre lot available to purchase, but was very sloped.
House: Extremely cool antique colonial built in the 1750s.  5 bedrooms, with an open floor plan.  The kitchen needed remodeling (hadn't really been touched since the 1940s) and the house needed heat.  Overall, in pretty good condition with lots of neat architectural features.
Price: $349,000
Award: Coolest appliance.

Three-in-one sink, stove, refrigerator makes up the kitchen in the in-laws apartment.

Location: Lebanon (farm country, about 35 minutes from my parents house)
Land: 7.5 acres.  Currently a working farm (mainly meat chickens, small garden, pig, dairy cow). Mostly wooded, sort of close to 3 neighbors, but a pretty decent perimeter fence.
House: Perfect.  Is that too general of a term?  Built in 2002 with great attention to detail, the house just felt like a home with it's wide-plank wood floors and barn-style doors.  I never formally made a list of things I was looking for in a home (because I kept telling myself that I was buying a farm, not a house), but this house would have checked all of the boxes: mudroom with laundry, large kitchen, wood stove, office for two, 3 bedrooms, his-and-her closets, wood floors, etc.  Plus a two-stall barn and a large chicken coop.
Price: $324,000
Award: Most beautiful home.

Location: Lisbon (about 30 minutes from my parents)
Land: 29 acres, mostly wooded and quite sloped.  Lots of debris on the property (probably 2 dozen trashed cars).  I believe K described the front portion of the farm as it looking like Noah's Ark tipped over: in one small field there were all sorts of different animals standing in stinky mud.
House: I don't even know where to begin.  The 4 bedroom farmhouse was a disaster, but they were pouring all of their money into a very large (40x80), very ugly tv room/master suite.  The kitchen was the size of a linen closet.  There was a barn on the property, but it was full of debris and we couldn't go inside.
Price: $319,000
Award: Most cats on a bed.  As well as most cats in a house.  YUCK.

And the winner was?  House #5 (the beautiful Lebanon home).  Though the land is smaller than I was initially looking for, 7.5 acres is plenty large for me to manage on my own.  And the size of the land will force us to be creative and efficient with our space (something I always admire about small farms), as well as do a lot of work by hand.  There may be the potential to lease neighboring land down the road, as well.

In the end, it was easy to imagine us raising a family on that farm.  Even though it's further from my parents than I initially hoped, I like the idea of being nearby other farmers.  I also like the idea of purchasing a home that doesn't need a lot of work (any, really, aside from some painting and small projects), because I'm eager to develop the business and focus on the farm.

Things are moving much faster now that we're experienced with the process.  I'm hoping to go back and see the property again this week, I've already requested disclosures, and my real estate agent is working on the comparative market analysis so we can develop a negotiation strategy and draft a contract this week.  Everyone involved feels good about this property and I'm eager to make it all come together.

Let's hope the SECOND time's the charm!  ;-)

most photos are by Pop

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