From dream to reality

Welcome...we invite you to follow our journey to build our dream farm/homestead, God's Blessing Farm. From where we were, to the birth of the dream,to the search for land, to the land purchase,building the infrastructure and each step along the way.We invite you to watch comment and advise. If you are new to the blog you might want to start at the begining post. Be blessed and enjoy the ride with us







Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lets get a farm...but how...how much... and which one???

OK so on November 18th 2010 on the County Courthouse steps in Athens TN we bought the property that will become our farm. But I think it would be helpful to take the next couple of posts to fill the gaps between the thought that this was an achievale dream and writing the deposit check.


Its a target rich environment out there.......

When we bought our little "Knox Box" in 2006 it wasnt a matter of if a house sold but how fast would it sell. Most of the properties we looked at appeared and dissappeared on the Knoxville Multiple Listing Service in less than 10-days to 2 weeks. Fueled by "liars loans" it was a buying frenzy.Negotiating was minimal.
We purchased a brand new house in an uncompleted new subdivision.Our logic was that historically if you could put up with the new construction that your property value would spike immediately after the last house sold. That was scheduled to occur 18 months after we bought. One "Great Recession" and four years later we still have three lots/houses left in our little subdivision. Houses in the neighborhood are now selling for less that we bought ours for.
But the flip side of the red hot market reversal is that the Knoxville MLS is now choked with listings over 6 months old. Foreclosures have gone from a non factor in 2006 to over 1600 foreclosed properties any given day on the MLS. Its a buyers market and cash is king due to strict lending guidelines.
Its a long way from want to do. We want a farm but what are the criteria for the dream property, the price range, the payment options and research resources available?

The property......

Knoxville TN and the surrounding counties have a wide variety of areas. agricultural,suburban ,urban and property tax rates vary wildly.
So with all thats out there what are we looking for?


  • Size- We feel like our little farm needs at least five acres. 15 or more acres makes us eligible for greatly reduced property taxes under the TN Greenbelt law.
  • House or raw property- Because we cant really afford to extensively remodel or build until we sell our house (and we will need someplace to live when we sell it) having an old farmhouse or some liveable structure is better than just raw land.After we started the process we started to realize that the old farmhouses in our price range were a lot rougher than the double wide trailers we were finding we expanded our search criteria to include double wides later in the process.
  • Location- We own a business in Lenoir City TN. My inlaws live southwest of Knoxville in Athens TN.My wife would like to be closer to them.I need to be within 35 minutes of work so that the commute doesnt kill me. That limits the locations to Loudon,Roane,McMinn or Monroe counties.These are also areas which have large agricultural areas. Loudon ,Monroe and Mcminn counties have low taxes.Property taxes in Roane county are sky high as compared to the other counties so a Roane county property needs to be 15 acres plus.
  • Characteristics- We talked about this alot. We would like some area timbered and some clear. Water is a must. Preferably a 12 month creak or existing ponds.We would consider a place where a runoff pond would work but water is a key because we want to be able to have fish.

Price and payment plan.......

We are very fortunate because we own a commercial building that we have a great deal of equity in. We have an available line of credit on the building that lets me make draws on with an interest only payment.We paid that line of credit off so that we could make a "cash" offer on any property.That being said we still have to be able to make the payments.We set our property budget at $120K.

So lets see ,5-15 acres...liveable structure.....35 minutes to work...12 month water on the property..woods and pasture..and all for $120K or less.

Sounds challenging

Research...research...research...

If you know me you know I am an info/research junkie. My experiance in buying two homes in the past four years is that you will be poorly served by the dilligence of the average real estate agent. Back when the real estate market was just "list it sell it" real estate agents were just like plastic fruit.They looked good but added no nutrients to the process. When the market changed the average real estate agent didnt.No real estate agent would/could supply me with the level of detail I wanted.With our criteria I knew we would have to be sharp bargain hunters to get it done. The resources I list are specific to Knoxville and Tennessee but I am sure comperable ones in any market

  • http://www.knoxhouses.com/ - This is a free website I have used to buy two homes now.Its owned by a local realtor and powered by the Knoxville MLS. I really like he search features as compared to the public portion of the MLS in this market.This site clicks you through to the owning agents office on every listing. That is something I didnt do as I had a realtor I was comfortable with
  • http://www.crsdata.com/ - This is a subscription website used by appraisers ,real estate agents and other realty related professionals. CRS stands for courthouse retrieval system. This site can access public data bases such as tax records,deed filings and even Bing aerial maps and FEMA flood info on any property.It costs around $100 a month and I found it invaluable in developing the level of research we needed. I noticed that my real estate agent had some aerial maps I had never seen before.I did an Internet search and found CRS.They sent a rep around and I subscribed.Without CRS we would not have found our little farm.
  • http://public.kaarmls.com/ - This is the public portion of the local MLS.This is valuable if you want to work directly with the listing agent on any property

Now we had a game plan, property criteria ,a budget and the research resources to find our lil homestead!!!!

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