We got a private showing of house #2 on my list yesterday. There weren’t going to be any open houses for it; showing was by appointment only. The listing agent was on vacation, so the agent who was manning the phone at the time I called arranged to meet us there at 2:30 pm. The house itself was gorgeous. I liked it better than my other half did, but he didn’t dislike it. We both agreed the acreage surrounding it was too wooded, though, leaving less usable open yard space than we currently have. It’s a very pretty house, with high end construction and interior finishes, but in the end, it looked better on paper than it did irl. It was vacant, so, although the electricity was left on, the air conditioning was turned off. Can’t fault the owner for that, but the poor realtor was having a hard time of it with 86F inside the house, and 95F outside, in the shade, and so muggy that anyone who spent more than 10 minutes out there felt like another shower was in order.
The realtor who showed us the place is a total sweetheart. We’re guessing she’s in her mid-late 70s. She let us poke around the place without following us around like a puppy. Forget the listing agent for that place. I like this one. She came prepared with the paperwork she pulled off her database, which is more detailed than you can find on Zillow, Trulia, or any of the other onlines ones that anyone can search. She attached her business card, and one for some mortgage place, which is standard practice.
We want at least three acres of open, usable land; the rest can be wooded, for all we care. Anything over five open acres that will require mowing will entail either trading in our tractor mower for a ZTR, or hiring a landscaper. Landscapers around here are a dime a dozen, so getting competitive bids isn’t an issue. It’s just that we’d rather maintain the yard ourselves for as long as we’re able to do so.
We’ve already decided to contact the agent we met yesterday about getting a showing for place #3 on my list. It’s listed with another outfit, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a 200+ year old stone farmhouse with a couple of additions at each end, plus a wooden deck, a very large patio, a solarium, a small in-ground pool (do not want a big one!) with plenty of concrete around it for pool furniture, etc. Perhaps 3 acres of the seven is open, sunny lawn; the rest is woods, a pond, and some outbuildings that look like they might be a barn, a machine shed, and possibly an old stone spring house. On paper, it looks ideal.
No rush on this. It’s been on the market, on and off, for over a year, and the price has come down by ~25K every three months or so. The hitch is that its property tax assesment is farm, not residential. That could mean anything from agreeing to not subdivide it, to having to actually do some token farming, such as having a few chickens, or planting an orchard or vineyard. Heck, even planting half an acre’s worth of Douglas Firs would count as a Christmas Tree farm, when you get right down to it. So would keeping two goats or sheep. There are many possibilities for keeping the farm tax rate — if we decide we love it.
If #3 proves to have more problems than things going for it, we’ll move on to #4 and #5. Number four is another stone farmhouse, dating back to Revolutionary War days, with 10 semi-wooded acres, and outbuildings. Number five is wide open sunny land, with a nice looking large-ish semi-Victorian house, and sweet back yard, but it only has three acres.
One of these days, we will find another property on which we are willing to make an offer, and dicker a little about price. It’d be nice if we could do this by the end of summer, then put this house on the market. As a seller, putting your house on the market in fall or winter means it won’t be competing with too many others in the area. Also, if you list it for only maybe 10-20% over what it’s worth, and don’t overestimate its real value, as so many people do, then you will get some interest in it from potential buyers who might be willing to pay what you really want for the place.
Anyway, I didn’t jerk around the agent who showed us #2. I made it clear that we have no compelling reason to move from one section of town to another, unless we find the right place. No need to get into my income unless we make a formal offer on any property. She won’t keep contacting me unless I take further initiative, which is the way I prefer it.
So … the house hunt continues.