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Buying acreage--is it a bad idea?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by dave11, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    So prices for acreage in the tri-state area here (OH,PA, WV) have fallen off quite a bit. I've been looking at tracts of approx 75-100 acres, some all wooded, some partly pasture, some with homes already on them (old farmhouses) but most are undeveloped. Most are quite rural, as in 15 mins to the nearest small town, an hour to the nearest mid-sized town. Some are beautiful, with small rivers/large streams, rolling land, timber, etc.

    I currently live in a rural suburb fairly close to Pittsburgh, on 1.5 acres, but I have this odd feeling I need a bigger place out in the middle of nowhere. I doubt I would ever want to sell my current place, which I've renovated, so any new land I bought would be a "project." I would want to build a livable dwelling on one of these plots, or renovate what was already there, so the land could be livable when needed.

    I'm sure many people here have lived on large plots--but does this sound crazy? Of course it would be a dumb use of money in the short term, the undeveloped tracts have no water/electric/sewer/phone/gas etc. I suppose I could build it all "off the grid" though, from the start.

    I wonder too, if you own 100 acres in the middle of nowhere, how do you keep tabs on it? How do you know people aren't cutting down your trees, for example?

    Would like to hear any opinions on this.

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  2. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I love the idea, would like to do it myself. But I am concerned with leaving any developed property unattended. Their are way too many bad people around.

    Your best bet, IMO, would be to make friends with those living in the area, and hope they'd keep an eye on things for you.

    I'll follow this thread, since that's also a dream of mine. Not trying to be a wet blanket here. Other than that, I see no negatives to doing it if you can afford it.

    You might want to see what property values are doing there. This may or may not be the best time to buy if values are dropping.

    Good luck, and dream on! :)
  3. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    I'm in this area too, and I've seen no indication that prices are falling unless it's being sold without mineral rights. I personally wouldn't buy if it didn't include mineral rights. Also, make sure you know the last time it was logged, could be some potential money to be made.
  4. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Upstate NY
    I love my 100 acre wood. Three things; Try to buy adjacent to State land, watershed land, park land etc.. You will be adding to an existing sanctuary, as well as enjoying expanded usage.

    Buy close enough to your existing home so you can visit frequently.

    Don't immediately put up a structure. Get a camper and get to know the land. If you do put up a structure, try to get it subdivided out as a small lot, as you will be hit with residential property taxes on the whole if you do not.
    abrucerd likes this.
  5. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    Without mineral rights, you could have a nice shiny drilling rig smack dab in the middle of the property that pays someone else. The most productive fracking well in ohio, the landowner sold his rights in the 70's. his land is unusable with the drilling activity and now he cannot afford the property taxes while someone else is a multi millionaire.
  6. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    We have about 60 acres an hour and a half from home. If you do it, keep it simple. Structures need security, maintenance and increase your property taxes. We have bear claw marks in the exterior door to the kitchen but no person has ever bothered the place. We and especially the kids love it there but quite frankly we could do a lot of other things with what it costs us to keep the place.
  7. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    The issue of mineral rights does create a lot of uncertainty. Land outside the Marcellus Shale seems to generally transfer with them, or at least can be negotiated.

    Not sure though if your land can legally be made unusable though if others decide to drill on them. Depends a lot on state law and precedent.

    Some of these properties were once working farms or ranches. Seems like they could be partially returned to that, with a certain amount of work.
  8. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    People talk a lot about timber sales--have you considered that? Was wondering if it is all its cracked up to be...
  9. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    I know the timber value is a big out west, Oregon, and surly many other locations. In PA there are tax deferral programs to keep large tracks of land intact. I started to look into this, thinking a lot of land is where I want to retire to. A lot of pro's and con's. That said, my wife wants to retire to our weekend place. We have an acre that backs up to 200 acres, a nice house, water, sewer, maintained roads, etc. It' in a great community, with a lot of friends and activities.

    I to would like to hear from the guys here that have large pieces of land, what they like, what they don't.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Dave, here in MI there are many, many folks who own land in the north but live in the south. Those who own undeveloped land usually have the least problem but those who have cabins or houses that are out in the sticks have constant breaking in problems. After all, it would be easy to break in because who would call the police? How long would it take the police to get there if they were called.

    One place i remember well was the Gaylord, MI area. Lots and lots of wooded land with lots of small cabins that are used mainly on weekends in the summer months. I was amazed reading the papers to see all the break-in problems.

    As for the investment opportunity, now could indeed be the best time to buy with the prices down. We know they will come back up but just don't know when. Also the mineral rights is a valid concern.

    Good luck.
    bubbasdad likes this.
  11. bubbasdad

    bubbasdad Member

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    The percentage of folks on state aid is higher in a lot of northern counties than it is in Detroit. My family had a cottage up there, and the best way to prevent having all your stuff stolen is to hire a local to maintain your property. They know all the shifty folks, and warn them off. Probably helps that they are frequently related.
    Shane N and johnchap like this.
  12. bubbasdad

    bubbasdad Member

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    I know one thing for sure, if it is decent farmground, it isn't going to go cheap.
  13. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    The practicality of owning land for a wood supply is directly related to how far it is away. In the biomass industry moving wood chips is generally regarded as only effective at less than 50 miles one way as the cost to ship it exceeds the value as fuel. I expect with firewood it may be denser, but there is still the wear and tear on the truck, plus the chance that the area will be shut down due to wood transport due to some insect pest.

    I have looked at lots over the years and would love to own one but the reality for me is the taxes and other expenses would make my wood real expensive.
  14. johnchap

    johnchap Member

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    Loc:
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    i bought ten acres some time ago in sout vermont - raw land .... thick woods ... I had it selectively logged and earned one third of the paid price in the first 6 months --- whci paid for some excavation work --- built a small shed below tax code size - check zoning , taxes !!!!!!!!
    i leave a camper on it for 7 months,... the locals check it out and I never had a problem .... bears ... deer ... moose ....
    I will most likely gift it to nephew and nieces ..... NO land is selling there now ... NONE!!! check out why the prices are low and think ... the economy is tanked and tanking .... most cannot afford or want to risk doing this ,,, I would sell this year .... but no buyers

    also check sale penalty - in vt if you are not a resident and sell the property one year after purchase you are TAXED heavy .... very heavy ...after 6 years it is a normal resident tax

    enjoy life ...woods are peaceful !
  15. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    We have done it and it did offset some of the carrying costs of the property. I wouldn't go into this thinking you are going to make money on timber unless you have some connections.
    johnchap likes this.
  16. Wooderson

    Wooderson Member

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    N TX
    My take is that property is a finite resource. I do not own property, but I know that it brings great pride to my FIL to see my family work his land and know that the grandchildren will one day be working the place with their children and, God willing, grandchildren.

    The Farm is about 15 minutes from our place in town and supplies 100% of our wood. I CSS blackjack and post oak at the farm and stack for my FIL. I haul about 1/2 cord to town as needed for our heating. It is an additional handling, but more workable than multiple stacks at the house, and it allows single stacking with plenty of warm temps and wind.

    If you have the flexibility, it is great for the family and the soul. I second finding a caretaker...just to keep an eye on it. Drive throughs tend to discourage vagrants IMO.
  17. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    I have a 22 acres and I love it. I wish I had more.
    johnchap likes this.
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I have 15 acres about 50 miles away and I have enjoyed it but it is a money loser. Carrying costs, capital gains taxes, property taxes all eat away at any equity or chance of profit over time.

    At this point, I want it sold but no buyers to be found.
  19. Paver56

    Paver56 Member

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    I live in Lancaster PA and have 20 acres. I do not know if you have it out your way but I would see if they have a Clean and Green program. It is meant to keep taxes lower on farmland. Without it, we probably would have a hard time paying our property taxes. Our house is assessed normal, but the land is discounted. Worth looking into.
  20. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    You guys have it hard on the tax front. Here, resource land (wood land, farm land) is taxed so low it's negligible.
  21. johnchap

    johnchap Member

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    taxed 1,000 beans per year for ten acres .... it is a buildable / perced and I had a site plan engineered but I think the town has a zonisms and taxisms .... I tried to install a true camp with econ toilet etc .... they demanded septic! screw em
  22. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    there is no better investment on than earth have acres here in ny and have b uilt a home and now live there, I still don't know why it took me until; 30 to do it... 10+ acres lovin it
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  23. OldLumberKid

    OldLumberKid Feeling the Heat

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    How's living in the snow and the cold weather for so much of the year? Does it get old or do you learn to love it?

    Not that we don't get our share here, but "Lake Effect" snow is a whole 'nother world, right?
  24. charly

    charly Guest

    We have a 96 acre farm we bought 4 years ago,, we came from 10 acres which at the time thought was all we would need,,,, after 7 years we wanted more, sold our home and bought the farm.... we never looked back... supplies 100% of our wood.. Our big spring fed pond gravity supplies water to our home,, grid goes down,, we still have water,,, we filter what we drink, years before us people just drank the water directly never being ill... We have a farm exemption that saves us on some taxes but that is the biggest killer here... Taxes just went up 4000 dollars over night... We love the peace and quiet having the land and freedom... Bee's , apple trees , chickens and maybe adding a green house down the road... property is hayed every year and we get some income from that as well... Deer cam's are a good way to babysit your property as well...Also some good signs like Posted, shooting range on premises, stray bullet hazard.. Oh well,, they've been warned ::P! Also going to start flying off my property as well so it makes it all worth having the land going right out your back door to fish, fly , hunt what ever you want...It's all what you make it... Myself I could live in the middle of 300 acres and still have fun... Some people need a neighborhood of people,,, it's all in what you want....It's about a full time job just taking care of the place...
    OldLumberKid and heat seeker like this.
  25. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    OldLumberKid likes this.

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