Now that the states are reopening and hotels are accepting guests, we’re going to be hitting the road this weekend for some more house hunting. As I mentioned back in April, we are looking for a house that is rural enough to serve as a live-in retreat with enough land to be more self-sufficient both before and during a TEOTWAWKI event. We want room for a garden, berries, and an orchard. We need room to raise chickens and possibly other livestock. I want a shooting range on site and to be able to harvest firewood on our own land.
We’ve done a good deal of searching online, but nothing in person since February due to the coronavirus. So we’re heading out this weekend to see six or seven properties in two different areas. Below is the process we use to determine which properties we want to visit.
How we Search
First, we set up and save searches in Realtor.com that include specifics we want, like the minimum number of bedrooms and acreage, our price range, and the type of property. We currently have 12 saved searches, each for different locations across a number of states. (Most searches will give you only a 230 mile radius, so you may need multiple searches to cover a large areas.)
Every week or so, we open up the search and sort the items in the order of newest to oldest. This allows us to easily see anything new that has been listed. When one of us sees a property we like, we “like” it by clicking the read heart icon and then usually leave some notes. Later, the other spouse will look at it and agree or disagree. When we both like it, it stays on the list and we ask the agent we are dealing with in that area to send us more info on it.
The realtor will send you the MLS listing, which often gives information not found on Realtor.com, such as room size and whether the basement is heated or not. They can also provide the disclosures and possibly a survey or other documentation. Once a realtor has an idea of what you are looking for, they can point you two a property that might have escaped your notice. Also, some agents have what are called “pocket properties” which are not yet listings that are not yet on the MLS and available publicly.
Evaluating Online Listings
How do we evaluate a property? The first thing I do is click on the map icon and look at how close to towns and major roadways it is. Then I switch to the satellite or photo view and zoom in to see what the terrain is like, if there are any outbuildings, how close the neighbors are, if it shares a driveway with someone else, how close the house is to the road, etc. Then I switch back to the map view and zoom out to get an idea of how far it is from the closest major highways, the nearest town or city, etc. If the property is right off a four lane highway, I don’t even look any further, because we want to be more secluded.
Next, I look at the description and pay attention to things like heat source (does it have a wood burner?) and what the realtor is emphasizing and avoiding. Many times a fixer upper will say “Needs some TLC” or “Ready for your personal touch.” I’ll also scroll down and look at the property history to see when it was last listed and the appraised tax value. Only then will I look at the photos.
We’ll report back next week if we see anything worth while.
For more information on how what we have learned in two years of house hunting, I recommend reading 10 Tips for Buying Prepper Properties.
Main Image: The image at the top of this story is from a live listing on realtor.com that has many of the things we are looking for in a prepper home, including a wood stove, green house, chicken coop, large garage/shop, and other outbuildings. Its large unfinished basement would be ideal for storing prepping supplies.