After sharing our recent shock at the local housing market, we have made the decision to consider buying a homestead more seriously! Along with that decision comes the shift to looking at houses – part adventure and part stressful exercise in compromise.
So far, our “adventures” have taken us to a variety of northern Colorado towns as inventory is super tight – and we are finding – expensive. La Salle, Colorado to look at a modular. Ault, Colorado to look at a nice farm. Kersey for a fixer upper, and Greeley for a residential acreage.
The Kersey house turned out to be a complete wreck! Going into it, we expected picker-upper. We even said “lets look at this and think ‘put a hundred thousand on the inside, and invest more into outbuildings and things over time'”. Even with that mindset, we found more than $100,000 in repairs needed before leaving the ground floor! It was even unsafe for a viewing. We had to exit with the kids just to keep them safe.
Honestly, it was a bit discouraging, because we had already started to imagine possibilities – “What if we did this with this room…” And the land would have been a bit of a blank canvas, where there were some obvious garage, yard boxes, and chicken coop locations.
What if we built a home?
Discouraged a bit by this mis-step, we looked into buying land and putting a home on it – looking at both semi custom home builders as well as modular home installs.
For a semi-custom home build, after counting the costs, we would have been in the million dollar range – making buying an existing home a bargain by comparison. We found 8 acres for just under $200,000, getting neccessary permits and a tap would have been at least $50,000, and then construction was the real sticker. At $300 per square foot current construction prices, building anything right now would be twice per square foot the price at which our current home could sell – upwards of $500,000 for a small house alone with unfinished basement and no fences or outbuildings.
Looking at a modular home, the savings would seem a “bargain” but even those are selling between $120 per square foot and $200, but would still incur high land prices at $18,000 to $25,000 per acre, as well as permitting and tap fees, etc.
Continuing the search…
In the end – buying a homestead by finding an existing house on some land which works for our family would still seem to be the way to go. It doesnt need to necessarily be a farm specifically, but it should lend itself to the purposes we hope to find over a few years. Start with a house. Add garden. Add chickens. Build experience. Add some animal. Build experience. Rinse, repeat.
The adventure of buying a homestead continues with a second showing coming up this week — and the family challenge of getting our own home sale-ready!