Monday, October 17, 2005
Buying a Farm
On September 1st 2005 we bought our first farm after 12 years of renting a small farm. Eugene and I are now the proud owners of a 9 acre farm with all the bells and whistles we could want.
We started our search for a farm after our landlords had a furnace put into the house we were renting and than raised the rent dramatically in the summer of 2004. But until Feb. 2005 the search was not very serious (perhaps because it was a very scary thing for us to do, I mean, my God, buying property and getting a mortgage is a very adult thing to do, perhaps more adult than we really wanted to be) than we decided if we did not get serious we would be stuck in the old place which was getting into worse and worse shape and the rent was getting higher and higher and there were no barns and several other things were not right.
So we started looking. Over the ensuing months we found some interesting places but they were either cheap but remote from our customer base, perfect but way too expensive, in a good location but the buildings all needed burning, cheap but no barns and house too small (and also quite remote), beautiful but house barns need lots and lots of work. this went on for months and months and it seemed towards summer the price of property was rising at an alarming rate and that we may never find anything that would be both suitable and affordable.
We came home from an auction near Liberty Indiana where a 75 acre farm went for $420K (Beautiful farm, house barns needed lots of repair). This was depressing because this was Union county Indiana where land prices are a lot cheaper than SW Ohio and yet this farm was going dear, not cheap. We had set a goal of being in a new place by the beginning of October and here it was the beginning of August with no real prospects.
Than a few evenings later the phone rings and it is a friend of ours who also farms calling to tell us he and his wife had just driven past a small farm for sale that looked perfect for us. So the following evening we drove out to the place on our way to the Preble County Fair. We did a quick walk about and liked what we saw. The place has a house, a barn, south facing slopes, a couple of acres of flat land on top and a couple of acres of flat land on the bottom and best of all it straddled the place where my father used to announce on our trips up to Michigan on US 127 "This is where southern Ohio ends". So in my mind even if the house was falling and the barns were all messed up it would still be a way cool spot. Not everyone gets to live on a terminal moraine. The place also had a small pond and a lot of beauty. Pretty Sweet.
There is sign on the front lawn saying the place is for sale by owner but no phone number on the sign. There is a blacked out area on the sign that we assume in over the phone number. This makes us wonder if the seller is serious about selling the place but we decide we should leave our number and if the seller calls, great. If not, too bad and we will go on with our search.
A day later the owner, Carlos, calls us and we make an appointment to go look at the place. that same day we also looked at another place up in Darke County (really cheap but small, no out buildings and really remote). On our way back from that showing we have pretty much already decided that unless the farm on US 127 has something major wrong with it like no well or the house is missing a wall or a large part of the roof we will likely take the place. So we meet Carlos in person and he shows us the house, barns and store front. He is a pleasant enough person. He used to repair and make horse harness and tack which interested me (I am a long time horse person and worked with horses for a living for many many years). He told us about how he rented the farm and the renters ripped him off leaving very little behind (bad for Carlos, good for us-we don't have to deal with someone else's crap). We decide upon seeing all of the place we like it. As I mentioned earlier it fulfills our needs and than some. But we want to be sure what we are seeing is what is being sold so we go off to Eaton to the courthouse and start researching the deed and title on the place. We don't find anything wrong in our search but than we are not professionals
So we call Carlos up again and tell him we are VERY interested in the place and would like to buy it. We call up Farm Credit Services and tell them we have found a place and need a loan. They call back a few days later and say they would like to give us a loan but there is a lien on the title to the deed and they will not loan us money until that lien is cancelled-BUMMER. So we call Carlos and say he has to do something about the lien or no deal. He does not seem all that interested in getting the lien canceled and that worries us but we go on with the process of buying the place. the next course of action to take is to get a contract drawn up saying we want to buy the place and the terms involved in buying it. I call a friend who is in the auction biz and has a realty license and he suggested getting a lawyer to do the contract so we hired Dan Huss and met with him and Carlos in Oxford the mid point of August and got a contract drawn up and paid Carlos his Earnest money. the lawyer did emphasize that in order for this contract to work the lien had to be taken care of ASAP and within 5 working days the lien was gone from the title (yay)
So that we had two weeks of waiting for several things to happen on the money end of things. The Mortgage folks hired several different people to vet out the place so we had daily calls from those folks plus lawyers in Eaton who would be doing the closing and it seemed like other people were calling about closing on the property. We were popular folks for a while.
Than the last week of August we were close enough to having all the loose ends tied up that we could schedule a closing date. Everyone involved was into the sooner the better. We had a farm to move and Carlos had a life to get on with so when the lawyers doing the closing asked if we wanted to close 2 weeks earlier than the contract stated we all said Yes. the closing was than scheduled for September 1st, 2005 at 10am.
The day before the closing Eugene and I decided to get together with Carlos and go over things before got into the lawyer's office since the lawyer charges by the hour and we wanted to use as few hours as possible. We go out to the farm and meet Carlos there who is filling out a disclosure form (which he was supposed to have done already) so while he is doing that we wander around the property and notice that there are 7 head of cattle on the place (there had been 2-a cow/calf pair). We ask about that and Carlos assures us they will all be gone before October 1st. This bothers us because we do not want any cattle on the land because they can do a great deal of damage but there is not much that we can do about it at this point. Carlos still owns the land and therefore can put as many damned cattle as he wants to.
The following day we all meet at the Lawyer's office in Eaton at 10 am and we all go into an office and sign papers and hand out large cashier's checks, we get keys to the place (and of course the first thing we did was buy new locks and change them all) and after 45 minutes of so Lucy and Eugene Goodman become landed gentry
Stayed tune to the multi-part saga of moving the farm