Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wanted: Victorian Farmhouse on 50+ acres

So we have resorted to running ads in local papers, and online. Surprisingly, we have had two responses so far! Sadly, neither farm was within one hour of our day jobs, so we had to pass.

I am hoping that somewhere out there, as someone drinks their morning coffee, they see our ad and say "hmmm...we have thought about selling the farm. Let me give these kids a call".

I am a firm believer in the power of positive thought, and so I have been visualizing our farm. Last night as we lay in bed, we each spoke in turn about what it looked like.

"The barn is magnificent, it has huge beams reaching upwards towards the hay loft. And the old barn boards let a wee bit of sunlight in. You can smell the fresh hay".

"As far as the eye can see there is nothing but rolling hills and forest"

"The woodlot is a wonderful place to walk, with a soft layer of old leaves beneath your feet. I can't wait until spring when the sap begins to run"

"Our house is ancient, and as you approach it you begin to notice the lovely Victorian details, which we have restored with great care"

If we dream it, it will come.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Time to rethink

Well, as time ticks on these puppies get larger and larger. It won't be long before they completely outgrow this suburban backyard.

They are livestock guardians who at the present have no livestock to guard!

MLS was disappointing today, nothing new. Which was so odd for a Saturday. I am looking back again at this one. http://tinyurl.com/ykh8tor We actually went to see it, and we said nope. But I am now re-thinking it. Could be desperation on my part?

The barn needs work, the outbuildings need work, and there is a hydro corridor at the very back of the property. But the house holds some promise? Maybe remove some walls, and gut the interior. Perhaps turn the main floor into one large open concept room with a new stone fireplace? It definitely needs some sort of addition, as there can't be a proper master bedroom without one. Hmmmm...

Farm Desperation. Today's catch phrase.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A few almosts...

We have been searching for this elusive rural property for some time now, and I am sure that our friends and family must think "they are too picky".

I mean, how hard can it be to find a rural farm in Ontario?

Harder than you think.

We are fortunate that our "agent" is also my dear sweet fireman's mother. She is endlessly patient, and never laughs at our ideas.

The first farm we almost bought seemed so promising. 84 acres, an old stone house, a lovely pond... it was our dream property! I was so disappointed when I took my intuitive friend out to see it, and she simply looked at it and said "No, I really don't think this one is for you". HA! I scoffed, what did she know?
In those days we were still learning about City Planners, and so when we learnt a little more about this dream farm, we discovered that over 45 acres of the property was swampland. We decided not to buy it.

The second farm we got to the point where we actually put in an offer. It was a "fixer upper" on 100 acres of the most gorgeous farm land you have ever seen. The agent told us it was an estate sale, and what we didn't know is that the family members could decide not to sell the farm...at any point in time. And they did just that, even though we had an offer on the table.

Back to the drawing board.

Farm three was perfect. A huge Victorian, on 50 acres. Beautifully renovated, and within our price range. We put in an offer, we haggled a bit over the details, but decided that we would simply give the seller what they wanted. After all, we wanted this house! We signed it back giving the seller all that they asked for...and we heard nothing. Days passed. Finally the selling agent advised our agent that the seller had changed his mind on our offer. Odd. Much later we found out that the selling agent had another client in the wings, and he sold the farm to that client and scooped 100% of the commission. Ethical? No. Illegal? No.

So, back to the drawing board. We look at houses weekly. I have become an MLS master. We look at maps and can recognize almost every sideroad and concession. We do drive-by's and try to curb our disappointment.

We have narrowed down our list of wants and wishes, and we now know exactly what we want. And we know, that somewhere out there our dream farm is waiting.

Lessons in Real Estate

Over the course of looking for a rural property, I have discovered that there is one person that you have to rely heavily on.

The City Planner.

City Planners are typically holed up in a basement office of city hall, tucked away with their maps, and not usually visited by the public. We find they respond very well to surprise donuts, or Tim Horton's coffee.

City Planners can tell you all sorts of marvellous things. If you befriend them, they will even tell you things that they shouldn't, because they begin to care and don't want you to purchase your hard earned money on something that will not be worth the investment.

Each time we seriously consider a property, we go through the same process.

1. The initial drive by to determine if the property looks remotely like the MLS listing.
2. Google Mapping, to determine what is around the property. This is VERY important and can save a lot of time. A large quarry behind a farm can decrease the value tremendously. So can railway lines, hydro corridors and auto wrecking yards.
3. Visit the City Planning office. They can tell you what the development plans are for that area, who owns the lots adjoining the farm. What rights of way exist, if their are floodplains, protected lands, or swamps.

Then and only then if a farm passes all of this criteria would we call our agent and ask her to show us the farm. It saves her an awful lot of wasted time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In the beginning...

I am a girl, a city girl. A girl who has spent the last 15 years riding downtown city transit, and smelling exhaust fumes as I drink my Starbucks latte on my trek to the office.
I am a city girl who loves the ballet, the opera, and the wonder of the theatre. I am a girl who adores the smell of hotdogs from street vendors, and the sound of buskers earning spare coins on the corner.

Quite sometime ago, I made the move to the suburbs. A land of station wagons and minivans. A world of neighbours who offer to help shovel your driveway, and grocery stores that still have bag boys.

I became a suburban girl. I took the train into the city, caught up in the morning rush of commuters. I learned to like the big box stores, with their endless choices of merchandise, and the grocery stores as big as football fields with their promises of low low prices and their sea of colourful produce.

But then, almost 3 years ago, I met a boy.

And deep in our hearts, we had a wee bit of country. It started with a shared love of country music, and cowboy boots. We took long drives in the countryside, and began to adore the tall maples which line country laneway's. Over time, that wee bit of country began to grow.

And so it began. The search for a farm. We have been looking for almost two years now, and we have certainly learnt a lot about rural properties. I am going to share our MLS adventures with you all here dear reader. So that you can laugh along with us on this adventure!