The Homesteading Property Process
Now that you have a well-thought out plan, tailored to the needs of your family, it’s time to focus on securing your homesteading property.
Some people are not able to move right now (or are already living on their homesteading property), and if so, then you already have this second step taken care of.
For many of the rest of us however, finding homesteading property and self sufficient home is a significant step, that will involve some careful execution.
There are 2 key steps that we like to help people focus on in this phase:
- Allying yourself with strategic partners
- Concentrating on the “Scale of Permanence”
Partnering With The Right People
Finding and partnering with the right people in the search for your modern homestead is critical. Doing so can mean a savings of time, money, and an overall better outcome.
For starters, the locals. The locals are priceless. More than anybody else, the locals will be able to tell you about the area’s history, what’s good about it, what they hate, the jobs, the government, the schools, and a million other things.
If it is a smaller town or outskirts area, there is probably some kind of agriculture happening, and they will likely be able to talk gardening and crops with you as well.
The locals will be able to introduce you to other locals, pipe you in to the area’s “social infrastructure”, and in general, get you started off on the right foot. In some instances, talking with the locals helps you quickly realize that the area might not be right for you.
Although there are plenty of people that would tell you it’s best to live a life of anonymity, we always recommend getting off on a good foot with the locals. After all, apart from all the “utility” reasons to go meet the people in an area, this is also going to be your home. You should want to have a few friends. We are social creatures. So go hit a restaurant, the library, or local coffee shops.
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In addition to the locals, a strategic real estate agent can be an enormous asset. As most people know, all real estate agents are not created equal. Many real estate agents are simply in the business of quantity. To them, real estate is a numbers game, and their goal is to see how many transactions they can be a part of. The more properties they can buy and sell (for the highest amounts of money), the more commissions they stand to make.
There’s nothing wrong with making money, and these aren’t bad people, but for your search, we’re looking for someone a little different.
For your search, you want a homestead specialist. In addition to hopefully being a tireless worker and skilled negotiator, a homestead real estate agent is focused on self-sufficient properties, and has a unique understanding of on-site water, growing zones, homestead food production, energy rebates in the area, livestock guidelines, and much more.
A specialist like this has the ability to not only see homestead properties for what their are right now, but also what they can become in 5, 10, or 15 years. They will be extremely familiar with ground-up construction, the financing and permitting process, and be able to recommend other local professionals that can help you construct your property. They will likely even be able to suggest plant and tree varieties that do well in your climate, and can grow with your homestead.
Perhaps most importantly, a specialist like this can help you tap into the local network of other like-minded homesteaders and resources. This part alone is priceless.
So how do you find an agent like this?
For starters, Homestead Launch does this exact thing. We are licensed real estate professionals that focus exclusively on helping people find their modern homesteads. Every year, we work in-person with buyers looking at homesteading properties. We absolutely love it. We also work with a small network of qualified professionals around the country who do the same thing. If you are ready to begin your property search, and would like to work with us, send us a brief email, and let us know what your situation is. We would love to help if we feel like there’s a good fit.
Apart from working with us, there are a some other great real estate professionals out there. One of the best ways to find good agents is by asking other homesteaders who they have worked with (the ol’ “word of mouth”). Even if they didn’t personally have a great experience with their agent, they are operating through the same lens as you are, so they will likely have heard of great people to work with.
You can also look in most MLS services for agents with experience in buying and selling raw land and homes with acreage. As we frequently mention, a modern homestead really can be any size in any location, but in general, real estate agents with experience dealing with raw land and homes with acreage, will be more in tune with the factors that we are looking for (properties that lend themselves to self-sufficiency).
If you already have a pretty specific area in mind, any way you can get to know and talk to the locals is priceless. Particularly in small town areas, they will likely have a good handle on real estate agents that are at least trustworthy and hard-working. This doesn’t guarantee you will get an agent with a lot of self-sufficiency know-how, but it is a lot better than nothing (plus, getting to know the locals is paramount anyway!).
Scale of Permanence
The scale of permanence is a set of principles used in good homestead design to evaluate property. Even if you already have a property, the scale of permanence can be useful in helping to determine priorities, but it is especially useful in evaluating property that we look at to purchase.
In general, the scale moves from most permanent to least permanent, beginning with climate. When you are evaluating potential homestead properties, you can use the scale to grade how well they fit your goals. The name of the game is getting the big things right, and then changing the smaller items to fit your vision.
- Climate – This includes things like temperature range, growing zones, rainfall, latitude and sun hours, wind directions, potential for extreme weather events (droughts, flooding, etc)
- Landform – Includes slope, topographic position (is this property on a ridge, in a valley, etc), geology, nutrients available in the land, water table depth (important for drilling wells!), elevation, potential for landslide
- Water – Water rights situation, existing sources, watershed boundaries, runoff and puddling patterns, potential for additional water supply (rooftop collection, ponds, wells), potential pollution problems
- Access – Ability to get to property, acess throughout property, road conditions, think about flow of materials needed (firewood, compost, etc)
- Vegetation and Wildlife – exisiting plant species, existing animals, habitat for animals
- Microclimate – what are the sunniest/hottest/dryest parts of that property, what are the shadiest/coolest/wettest parts of the property, which functions are best suited for each?
- Buildings and Infrastructure – What is the condition of the existing house, sheds, and other outbuildings, what’s the condition of pavement and water pipes, what is the utility situation (water, electrical, sewer, phone, internet)
- Zones of use (if there are any pre-existing) – existing orchards, garden areas, wooded areas, working areas, entertainment areas, etc.
- Soil Fertility and Management – soil type (clay, silt, sand), PH, toxins, is testing available?
- Aesthetics/Experience of Place – Do you generally like the way it looks? Does it have an overall vibe and features that “speak to you?” Will there be areas for entertainment? Pool, basketball hoop, fire pit, meditation areas.