I apologize for the long gap between postings. As soon as my husband and I returned from our Poland adventure we turned our energy towards finding a small farm we can retire to. I have been retired for 3 years and he is set to join me in another 2. With house prices and interest rates still low it seems like the perfect time to find our little slice of heaven.
WHAT the property is was more important than WHERE it is. At least that was our philosophy at the outset of this process. Of course we had a laundry list of things our new property should have. The most important thing was that it had enough room for some critters and be outside the city limits. I wish to raise chickens (definitely), goats (maybe), sheep (another maybe).....and expand my apiary (most definitely). To accomplish this I need at least an acre. It could be a bit more, but not more than I can handle on my own. My husband does not share my "farmer" genes.
To date we have looked at hundreds of properties, thanks to the internet (Zillow, Realtor.com, Google Earth, JohnLScott.com, etc....). And we have toured at least 20. Of these, we found 4 that we were interested in enough to take a second look and perhaps make an offer.
The first was a cute 1920's two story set on a hill in Kelso, WA. That hill turned out to be a deal breaker. On our second tour of the property we realized that the back left corner of the home was perilously close to the edge....and the ground was settling. It was a lovely home but I would always be in fear of it sliding down the steep hill, with me inside. No thank you.
The second was an adorable 1930's farmhouse in Chehalis, WA. Tiny, but cute. It sat on an acre of flat land, with a creek passing through the front. Anyone familiar with Chehalis knows about its infamous flooding. This particular house was located outside the flood plain but that creek was worrisome. Still, the property had an awesome multiuse outbuilding (garage, shops, barn) and we made what we felt was a "more than generous" offer. This one was a For Sale By Owner and the owner had an unrealistic idea of what the property was worth. We said no thank you and moved on.
Property number 3 was located right on highway 101 in Central Park which is located just up the hill from Aberdeen, WA. When I say it was right on the highway, that's what I mean. But it was fully fenced to keep my animals safe and the home was well insulated. The road noise was not excessive. The house was a 1930's rambler that had been added on to. It had over 1500 SF. The property was just shy of an acre. It had some cute outbuildings but the biggest attraction was the 1000 SF garage. This property had storage galore. We got very far along in the purchasing process but had to back out when we discovered that the septic system needed over $10,000 worth of repairs. Again, no thank you.
That sale failed right before Christmas. I was very disappointed which made for a rather dismal holiday. I could hardly wait for December 26th to arrive so I could resume the house hunt. This time we were touring 3 properties in Winlock, WA. A bit of backstory, we had been looking in Winlock, on and off, for at least 3 years. We absolutely LOVE this little town. Even though it is on the I-5 corridor, it is situated off the freeway. You depart the freeway, travel through some farmland, THEN arrive in town. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to stumble into Winlock unless they, or someone they know, lives there. It has one grocery store, an IGA. A couple of hardware stores, a feed store, etc...but not much that a tourist would be interested in.
So we arrived in town. We toured a small mish mashed house on 2 acres. The ad stated it had a barn...but the "barn" was dilapidated and un salvageable. Yuck. The second place was actually one we had toured a couple years back, when it was occupied and for sale. Now it is a repo. The house is a shotgun style. Incredibly boring and fugly. It's on a couple of flat acres and in a nice quiet area but that house was too ugly. Nope. Not gonna happen.
And then....we found it. We had actually been watching this property online for a while. But the ad and pictures didn't do it justice. The Google Earth view was confusing, and it was a repo. In this area that generally equates to "unlivable". Those properties either have flood damage, have been trashed by the previous owner, been vacant and unheated so long they are filled with black mold, have been broken into and vandalized.....or all of the above.
This property is a 1930 schoolhouse that has been converted to a home. It retains much of the original features and charm. There is a vestibule in front, built in closets and bookshelves, bead board, and even the original coat hooks the students used. It has fir floors throughout that need refinishing. The building was neglected by the previous owner and needs some serious cleaning, painting, updating....but the building is rock solid and oozes charm and potential.
It sits on a full acre that has 2 pastures and at least 6 fruit trees. Since it is a repo we wont know what the trees are until they bear fruit next year but the trees look to be in good shape. It last sold in March of '07 for $175,000. The property was repossessed and first listed back in July at $128,900. The price has been steadily coming down since then. Why has no one bought it? Well, it's out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland. And the listing was not accurate. It doesn't have 2760 SF. You never figure the unfinished basement into the SF, but this listing did. And it doesn't have a fireplace. Granted there is an old, rusty woodstove sitting down in the basement, but it isn't hooked up.
So it has been languishing, unsold. On Christmas Eve they dropped the price a final time, to $86,900. This would be the last chance to buy it before the bank gives up and sells it to an auction company. Once that happens it is sold, for cash, to investors and "flippers". This was perfect timing for us. We have submitted our offer and should know by next Tuesday whether it is accepted. I have my fingers crossed. This will make an awesome farm.