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    • I've been looking, and looking for my first OWN farm. We horse people are a particular lot. Anytime I find a property that might work it seems to be overpriced. Typically one of three things happen: 1 - It doesn't sell and is withdrawn, 2 - It sells months later for a significantly lower price, or 3 - It sells within a week or two for a slightly lower price. There's not much in between. For scenario number 2 I'm talking $50,000-$100,000 less than asking. For scenario 3 it's usually at asking or about $10,000 below. I've put in offers on three houses over the years and have gone all the way through contract signing on two of them but the deals didn't work out. It's nervewracking and instead of getting more comfortable I get more worried.

      Do you have any hints, tips, suggestions? Finacing, budgeting, fees, taxes, etc, etc. Things you wish you knew before buying your first (or fifth) house?

      Some farms in my area include tenant houses or apartments. Is it "worth" being a landlord?

    • I don't have any useful financial advice, but I can sum up 99% of my homeowning wisdom in one word: water. Look for where the water will go when it rains. Is the house on a downhill slope, or even near a downhill slope? Go uphill for a bit and see what's going on, in terms of runoff. Go downhill from the house and see if there's somewhere for water to go, or if it will just end up pooling around the house itself. Even in a dry season, one can usually reverse-engineer the drainage situation of the property with sufficient time and attention to detail, but it's of course best to go look at it during a rainstorm, if possible.

      Look around the edges of the house for signs of water trouble- persistently damp spots on the ground, isolated mossy patches, differences in vegetation over by one corner of the house, etc. Look at the gutter downspouts: is it clear where they deposit their collected water, and is it clear what happens to the water after that? Look at the gutters, generally- if they have been in bad shape for a while, they might have been sending water down the wrong part of the house, or to places around the house where it's not supposed to go, and there could be damage from that.

      The old saying about poker ("if you look around the table and can't spot the sucker, it's you") seems to apply to water and houses- if it's not clear what happens to water near the house, the odds are good that the answer is "it'll all end up in your basement, at the least convenient possible time." If there are sump pumps- find out about their maintenance records, or at least when they were installed, and who did the installation. Also, try and find out (to the extent possible) why they are there, with as much specificity as possible. Oh, and try and find out where they pump their water to. Is it going into a mystery pipe sticking out of the ground? See if you can find out where that pipe goes, etc.

      So that's my two cents about houses. :-D