Is your mind filled with visions of cozy nights by the fire in your own log cabin? You have the perfect vision for where you want to be but you are struggling to find the land that matches your vision? Then you will find tons of value in today’s post!
Episode 6 of My Dream Log Home Podcast
Hello fellow cabin lovers! We are so excited to bring you this podcast to offer inspiration, motivation and education about log cabin construction, design, and experiencing the log cabin lifestyle. If you have longed to build a log cabin of your own this podcast is for you – no matter what stage in the process you are in.
And if you have not already done so be sure to join our growing facebook group My Dream Log Cabin where together we can connect beyond the microphone.
Finding Land can be super challenging can’t it! Especially when you are living out of state – I completely understand. That’s why I wanted to produce this episode because I want to share my experience and things I learned that can hopefully help guide you in your journey.
I think it all begins with just deciding if it makes more sense to buy land and build or buy a home already built. For us, we got lucky and ended up finding a perfect log cabin in a great spot at a great price. But, I know that is not always the case, and certainly not very likely right now with the market as hot as it is. Another reason you may be thinking of building is because you want the house to be everything you’ve dreamt of and often finding that in an already existing listing is almost impossible. And I don’t blame you. Either way, the hunt for land can often be harder than the hunt for residential housing because let’s be honest, there is not much you can tell just by looking at the pictures.
How many listings can you look at before they all start seeming the same, right!? I mean, at least with houses there are distinguishing features, so when you talk about it with your spouse you at least have some reference point to help it make sense of which parcel you are referring to.
And how many listings have you seen that read something like this – 5 acres with a view- then you scroll down and see the same listing with different parcel numbers 4 or 5 times. But the real kicker is all the pictures are the same. So, what that usually means is someone had a large chunk of land that they broke up and are selling off. Rather than take pictures of each individual parcel, they took the best ones and just used it for all. This is not painting a realistic picture of what the parcel looks like and I don’t know about you, but it instantly made me feel like I couldn’t trust the listing. I certainly wasn’t very motivated to keep looking into it.
Even having my realtor go do a video walk of the property on site was not very easy to tell. So, really, what I learned is it is best to take a vacation and scout properties. We took a vacation early on in our search just to get a feel for what area we wanted to be in.
I was just talking to a realtor today as I was in line to vote. She said she works with a lot of out of state buyers and because they are not familiar with the state and the various micro communities they usually have a list of properties they want to see that are all over the state. I’m so glad we did that because it was a very relaxed experience. I didn’t feel rushed to see everything I had on a list and I could really just decide if a town was good for us not necessarily just a specific location.
So, that brings me to the meat and potatoes of what I wanted to talk about today. My mission today is to help you find a location that is perfect for your family and also land that will be great for your cabin.
To start I recommend making a list of things that you want to have at your place. So for example, is having a stellar view a must for you? If so, what do you want to see – a scene with water, a river or a lake? Or, how about just a canyon or beautiful landscape. I’ve seen some really pretty scenery that doesn’t have water.
What kind of people do you want to meet in your new community? Is a certain church affiliation important or community activities? For us, obviously the school system was important, but so was 4-H. If you haven’t heard of 4H it is a wonderful program for kids that teaches all kinds of things from sewing to raising animals. In Arizona, 4H was really dying out. I think in many major cities it is becoming less popular. I grew up in 4H and had many wonderful learning experiences. I really wanted my kids to participate so I was very happy to hear the 4H community is huge here in bonners ferry.
Here are a few other considerations to keep in mind when scouting a new place to live
– proximity to hospitals or medical facilities
– If you are a movie buff, maybe look into the location of the nearest movie theatre or in that case, any city activities you enjoy
– you’ll want to scout out the scene. If you love to shop, what are the malls like. In my case, i’m not a big shopper and malls are not my jam, but I absolutely love the small town privately owned shops here.
There is a lot you won’t know until you move in and really have time to get to know things, but I have a couple of tips to help you get a pulse on the area beyond just driving around and scoping it out.
Talk to people. Waitresses are a great way to find out what a town is like and so are grocery store clerks. I was so surprised at how chatty the grocery store clerks were here. In Arizona it seems like there is just such high volume there isn’t time to get to know people or people just don’t care as much. I’m not sure. But the townspeople here were so friendly and welcoming. It was hard not to fall in love with this place.
Also, you can join the cities community pages and see what people talk about and what events are going on.
I really recommend investing time in finding out as much as you can about the area before buying and building.
I didn’t find online research very helpful. It was a lot of statistical information like unemployment rate, number of residents, median household incomes etcetera. But, it was hard to know what the place felt like.
I hope those tips were helpful.
Now, I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about land, specifically, what to take into consideration and what to be leary of. If you have not already subscribed to the show, do that now, because you will definitely want to be notified about an upcoming episode we have with a local realtor. She and I go a lot more into detail about land and buying as an out of towner. If you are in the search or even just thinking about relocating you will definitely want to hear what she has to say.
Ok, here are some general questions to think about and make sure to add to your list of must haves. Make sure you are clear about what you want because you don’t want to forget things when you’re searching. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a certain property and forget to ask important questions.
Do you want land with open spaces or lots of trees?
How many acres fo you want or need
Do you plan to raise animals or grow gardens
Do you want to have running water on the property like a creek or river? Or is access to a well important?
How close do you want to be to neighbors
Now, here are some questions to ask your realtor
How buildable is the lot?
Are there any easements?
What is the water table? If it needs a well.
What are the city and county zoning laws
Are there any CC&Rs – restrictions
How far is the power source from the property
Do they plow the road or do you have to maintain the road
So much of this we are going to get into deeper in next week’s episode.
But, I just want to share with you some of my own experiences that I ran into so you can understand why this can be so important. First of all, not all realtors are experienced with selling land. This is a very important fact. All realtors are capable of selling land, its just that some have more experience than others and I promise you will want a realtor that has experience.
I worked with more than 1 realtor in my journey. One was definitely more interested in his commission than helping me find what I want. Others did not give me the time of day because I was out of state – or they just put me on their email list and sent me every listing in my price range.
Finding a quality realtor can almost be as difficult as finding the property itself. We are going to reveal some great questions you can ask a potential realtor to help you get an idea of how experienced they are when we chat with Jackie next week.
I considered a property on 10 acres. Actually, we did more than consider it. We put an offer in on it. My husband went up to check it out and discovered that out of 10 acres only about half an acre was usable. The house and small yard took up that much space. Since we wanted animals and a garden it really would have needed a lot of work to make the ground work for what we wanted.
In another situation we looked at a house that had an easement. The neighbors in the adjacent house had to drive through the property we were looking at in order to get to their house. At first we were not really aware of what an easement meant. Living in the city in Arizona, that was not really something anyone did. All houses had access to a road – at least that I had seen. So, when our realtor explained it in more detail she also made sure to advise us that we could run into potential legal issues too. So that was not something we wanted to entertain and Not only that but once she explained it it felt like a big privacy invasion, and with 4 young kids my husband and I weren’t fans of having someone drive through when our kids might be out playing.
I realize hunting for land is difficult. I hope our mini series on land hunting helps you avoid costly mistakes. I know of one person who inquired with Caribou Creek who had bought land. He was ready to build his dream cabin. He had a crew starting to put in utilities and sadly discovered the well he expected to put in wasn’t getting any water. He spent thousands of dollars drilling and nothing! He had to sell that property at a loss and start all over!
I really don’t want this to happen to anyone – so please make sure to tune in next week to hear more on this subject.