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Your advice/ stories: Buying farm real estate

Moberly, MO

Some of us live on farms, others (like me) are still drooling over the notion.

When it's time to make the purchase, what's the best way to not get duped?

I don't want to get stuck with a place that's riddled with coal mine shafts, a polluted water table, ridiculously restrictive building codes, thin topsoil, etc.

Before property can be bought, how much is a person allowed to scope out a place?

Is the seller going to completely disclose any problems with the property? Legally, does he/she have to?

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi, ThankGod4plants.

We bought our peace of heaven last summer. We looked for several months, and as we looked, we realized we wanted more land than we originally thought.

I was looking at the internet daily to see what was for sale in our area. Our farm was the estate of a dairy farmer who had passed away - his family was selling it. We were very lucky - 3 other people tried to buy it before us and their financing fell through. We did use a buyers agent - I highly recommend doing that - and he arranged for us to have full access to the farm before we made our offer. We walked the entire fence line one day, and just fell in love with the property. The house is nothing fancy, for sure, but if you are running in and out of mud while feeding the chickens, horses and the soon to be goats, it doesn't really matter.

The title company got us records going back to when the land was part of an Indian reservation, and the mineral rights were never leased out - the county courthouse also has those records.

Oddly, there is a fair amount of oil in our area, and neighboring farms have some small wells - oh, I'm off subject.

They have to tell you if you are in a flood plain.

To protect yourself, get a buyers agent.

Good luck!

Moberly, MO

How much does a buyer's agent cost and where can I meet one?

Moberly, MO

How much does a buyer's agent cost and where can I meet one? How does a buyer's agent differ from a real estate agent?

Waddy, KY

You want to know about the property? Go talk to the farmer next door. You need to walk the property. More than once. Look around, look at the buildings,

Is the seller going to disclose everything that's wrong? Get real! And as far as a buyer's agent, don't depend on them for everything. If you need an electrician to look over the wiring get one. Check with zoning and planning. Go to the court house and do your own title search. ASK QUESTIONS. And it you don't get an answer ASK AGAIN.

And regardless of how careful you are when something doesn't turn out exactly right remember hindsight is 20/20. When we got to working on our house and found out all the gray water was leaking out of the plumbing under the house and there was a stinking muck under there that had rotted out two of the 2X12 floor joists we suddenly realized why there were had been all those little round air fresheners stuck under all the cabinets. We also knew why they hadn't cut the lower hay field when my husband drove the tractor and haybine across the lateral field and fell in up to the hubs due to it being collapsed and not working.


Moberly, MO

daylily: So, if I were to go to the courthouse I could find out who owned a property before the owner who is selling it to me now? What is zoning and planning? will that be through the county? Thanks for sharing your story!

Beth: what's a title company? I see how meeting the farmers in that area would help know the land's potential.

Yukon, OK(Zone 7b)

ThankGod4Plants, I just noticed your name on my homepage as you were the last to respond to this thread.

I only came here to tell you that I just love your name!!!! I think it might be the best I've seen so far!

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi, ThankGod4Plants -

When you buy property, you want to be sure to get title insurance from a title company - they go back as far as they can to make sure that the title to the property is free and clear - in the meantime, they should pretty much have a history of the property going back to probably the early 1800s in Missouri. It's important, because you don't want someone who's grandparents owned the farm to come and claim that the land is still theirs.

Waddy, KY

If you look up the deeds and things are filed properly in your county you should be able to trace ownership of the property back at least several generations.

As for Zoning and Planning, some areas have that and some don't . A real estate person if the area should be able to tell you if there's a commission in the area that affects the land you're interested in.

Sue, RI(Zone 6a)

My BIL just bought a place(5 acres) and as he is digging for the septic, he came across hundreds of tires that had been buried. Apparently, a renter from 10 years ago used to salvage cars and didn't want to pay for the disposal of tires. He rented a house on the road but buried the tires a couple acres up from his house. The guy who owned the property divided it in half, selling my BIL the half without the house but where this rental fellow dumped all his tires. Instances like this one can't be foreseen, just keep in mind that most farms have their own 'dump'! So give the place a good walk through so if something needs to be cleaned up you can negotiate something with the sellers.

none of ur business, OK(Zone 5b)

I agree with saanansandy
we just bought some woods and it was a dumping ground . found lots of junk. pain to get rid of. many tires,expensive too.
the realtor should be able to tell you of all the stuff . and do check on doing a perk test if your building a house on it. Withour a perk you could wind up with just land and no house to build ( if that is a direction your going to go)
good luck
keep us updated on your plans .

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Our land had a bunch of old tires, too, but I have found a way to use them to make raised beds for potatoes!

Waddy, KY

All those tire would be an EPA nightmare down here! That and asbestos shingles. At least if we ran across something like that we could dig them out and take them to our county's tire amnesty day and get the mess cleaned up. I'd certainly be contemplating what I'd like to do to the person that dumped them though!

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

Another thing to be aware of is what is over the hill. Something like a slaughter house, stockyard, fertilizer mfg plant, all produce some smells you might not want to live with when the wind changes direction! Talk to several nearby neighbors and find out if there are any who are a Pain in the B.... Find out how good and reliable the water source is, and taste the water. Look for evidence of excessive minerals in the water by looking for color streaks and rings of bathroom and kitchen fixtures, rust is hard to conceal, and other minerals turn everything gray. If you are on a community well, find out who is responsible for maintenance of the system. Crawl around under the house and look for dry rot and leaking pipes, and in the attic to look for evidence of leaks and see how much insulation is there. Find out where the septic system is and where the drainfield is, important to know if your drains stop draining.

Angleton, TX(Zone 9a)

I've always believed that God has had a hand in our two real estate purchases. Our home we live in south of Houston, and our ranch east of Waco. A Buyer's agent is the best idea. It's well worth the money invested if you know nothing about buying land.

All of the suggestions here we took to purchase our ranch early in 2006. We closed in two months of locating it. We didn't use a buyers agent because we were both familiar with what questions we needed to ask. We scoured the surrounding area, walked the property and walked it some more. A local title company was used, and the previous owner had said he was only the second owner. The previous owners had the property handed down through the family. Took title company one week to do research and mail the results to our lawyer's hand. He felt no title insurance was needed and we followed his advice.

We too, had an amazing amount of cleaning of junk! There was some usable iron to start our stock pens, the rest of it junk was sold as scrap iron. Old tires sent to appropriate site. Crane mats burned and iron sold as scrap. Old falling down barn, not one to preserve the wood on was burned and any metal left cleaned up and disposed of properly. Three very old vehicles sold as junk. Consider the monetary return of resale of some junk before making a deal with new owners.

Make sure you understand your state's surface rights, mineral rights and water rights. This becomes extremely important if you live in a state with multi-tier of ownership. We do not own the mineral rights to our property. We do know who does. Then at some point in the future one may have to consider wind rights. Hmmm....I had fun exploring that one after we drove through more then two dozen wind farms in West Texas last spring. At least from Texas law, and there are currently no laws in relation to wind, we as surface owners should fall under ownership of the wind should there ever be a contest as to ownership of wind come before Texas Courts.

Just a short story of cleaning up of the junk at the ranch. There was an old air conditioner unit that had been gutted and the frame sitting back in some mesquite trees. We had a surprise last spring and once again it sent me to researching what we had found. A pair of turkey buzzards had decided it was a great place to raise their brood. We were blessed to watch two chicks grow to fledging. Ok, so you might think, oh what awful birds. Just remember what an important role they play in our ecosystem not to mention I didn't know they prefer to nest on the ground. Needless to say the air conditioner didn't leave until the chicks fledged.


none of ur business, OK(Zone 5b)

great story about the birds . :)
hmm never thought about wind rights
here in OH people are fighting NOT to have windmills. Not an area that wants change . People say they are ugly ,but have you seen a pretty electric pole ?

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Well, windmills do tend to kill a lot of migratory birds - the types of windmills used in the farms, so I can see why some don't care for them - and they are rather eerie to look at.

none of ur business, OK(Zone 5b)

yes that is a main concern with the birds . I will admit. I worry about that too.
I have seen the pros and cons of them.

Moberly, MO

Wonderful advice, I will print this off for later use. I won't be buying a propery for several years, but I will look at this when it is time to.

Thanks for the compliment about my user name, Brinda!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

A lot of good points posted here, and I want to add to the information about title insurance.

IF you get a mortgage, usually title insurance is required, but only enough to cover the mortgage company. Owner's title insurance is an extra charge (added to the mortgage title insurance) per $1,000 of value. Either way, the title insurance company checks the courthouse records for chain of title, deeded right-of-ways, etc. and issues a title policy.

The important thing to understand is this: Say 4 generations back the owner's had 3 heirs. One son went off to California and was never heard from again, and not located during probate (if any) of the property. So the other 2 heirs have someone sign off for the missing son, perhaps assuming he's dead since they cannot locate him.

Now, the missing son had married and had children... and grandchildren. After his death, and the deaths of all his children, his grandson remembers 'granddad' talking about his family's large farm back East many years ago. So he decides to investigate, and finds his granddad supposedly signed off the deed, which he knows is false. He is still a legal heir to his grandfather's portion of the land even though the courthouse records show 'someone' signed off.

The folks who search titles (I was one of them) have no way of knowing if any signature is authentic. Now comes title insurance... the title company will hire and pay for an attorney to settle the case. If the missing heir proves to be valid, the title insurance will reimburse the cost of the mortgage and/or purchase. However, if you ONLY have mortgage title insurance and didn't purchase the optional one-time charge for Owner's insurance, the title company will merely pay off the mortgage company and you won't get a dime.

Personally, I believe title insurance is a cheap means of protection. It doesn't happen often, but it DOES happen.

Sue, RI(Zone 6a)

Did anyone mention doing a lead test on any paint? You can pick up test kits and find out before buying so if there is, you can get a credit for cleaning it up.

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