Here’s an idea: Spend two days eating sugar-laden Christmas treats, then take all that extra energy, put it in a car, and drive around in circles (on dirt roads) for a few hours. Go ahead and set that one on the shelf of awesome ideas I’ve had, right next to “live in a garage for a year and a half.”
But the truth is, I’ve been in my rental for a little over a month now, which means I just waved goodbye to 1/6 of my allotted time to find property, finalize my house plans, and build a place to live. I’ve got a fabulous start on the house plans, which I’m super excited to show you next week when I get the revamped versions from my architect, but the property search had been going in fits and starts. I find a property, it takes forever to track down the seller, I finally get some additional information only to find out there’s a problem with the property lines or perk tests or crazy neighbors. And then my dreams collapse and whoosh across the room like a deflating balloon.
With the holiday craziness over, it was time to get serious about the search again though, so I set out to find a few more potentials.
This one has 2-3 times the amount of property I need, and costs about 2-3 times what I want to spend, but it’s gorgeous and secluded, and only two dirt roads and a 20 minute drive away from civilization.
Another contender is this piece of property, which is actually within my price range…
But it looks like my option for housing would basically be to build a houseboat and park it next to the ducks here. Actually I’m pretty sure a big chunk of this farmland is a part of the property as well…
It’s on one “busier” roadway, which isn’t my fave, but it’s still not nearly as busy as the road Memorial was on, and there aren’t close neighbors. Plus I’d definitely make my driveway a drawbridge so that people would basically have to cross a moat before getting to me. So what I’m saying is… it could work.
I also spotted another place as I was driving home, and did 2 U-turns (don’t ask about the second one) in order to get a picture of it. 15 acres and a big old barn? I thought this could be the one.
That is, until I was looking at the photos to post this and realized it was 135 acres. So. That would be a little excessive. Also noted for future property searches: less sugar, more paying attention to the sale signs. (I even said to myself while doing the first U-turn, “it’s really weird they have a big commercial development sign up for 15 acres…” sigh.)
It’s possible that neither of these properties will pan out, which means I will have exhausted all of my options for property in the size, price range, and area I’m looking for that are traditionally “for sale.” I say traditionally, because there are other ways to get your hands on some farmland I hear… mostly from my father who keeps telling me to find an area I like, then go to the county and get the plat maps and start making phone calls.
For once I’m actually taking his advice without putting up too much of an argument, and I started by doing this…
What you’re looking at is the big editable map I started piecing together in Photoshop from screenshots of Google Maps. Then I highlighted properties I liked (green squares) properties I didn’t (red squares) and streets I’ve driven down that would be awesome to live on (green highlight) or a good second choice, if it came down to it (yellow highlight).
(This, by the way, is fake… as in, not the actual streets or properties I’m looking at. I’m not exactly afraid of stalkers since I own several firearms, but I hear there’s a lot of paperwork involved in shooting someone, and I just don’t have time for it right now.)
Anyway, the old-school way of finding property owners was to get the plat maps from the county (according to my dad), but turns out there’s this newfangled technology called the Internet, and some places have the maps available online.
For anyone in Washtenaw County or surrounding areas you can look up plat or parcel maps here. For everyone else, if you Google search the name of your area + plat or parcel maps, you’ll probably turn up something. The Washtenaw County site is awesome since it also includes elevations and structures along with the street address.
Once I find a parcel on a road I like with no house, I can look up the owner information through the county assessors office online. God I love the Internet.
If only it included email addresses, I would be all set. But an old fashioned phone book will also suffice.
My desperation level isn’t quite to the point of cold-calling people to beg for property, but since I’m hoping to be under contract no later than mid-Feburary, it’s good to be prepared. Also, if you’re wondering about the lack of posts lately, now you know that I’ve been hunched over my computer at all hours of the night cyber-stalking old farmers, but I’ve got a couple of new projects (and tools) to show off soon too.