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Buying Land

Let me tell you a little bit about our land journey.  We’ve always planned to build our dream home when we’ve sold our current house.  We wanted to move back to the country on about 3-5, mostly wooded, acres.  This has been our plan for years.

We’ve been casually looking at the land market for a couple of years, but we weren’t ready to buy yet so we didn’t pursue any properties.   This summer when it looked like we would be able to put our house on the market sooner than we thought, we got serious about finding land. What we found wasn’t good though.  What little bit of land was available in the market around Columbus was mostly farmer’s fields… no woods, heck not even a single tree on most lots…and they were over priced.  The Columbus market is hot right now, so property is scarce, especially for a reasonable price.  So when we couldn’t find the land we wanted, we decided we would have to buy an existing home that had the land we wanted and remodel the home.  So we started searching.

While we were finishing up things to get our house on the market we were on contact with a couple different real estate agents who set us up with MLS searches for the general area where we were looking to buy.  I will be the first to admit that we are a bit picky, but this was going to be our ‘forever home’ so I wanted to find the right property.  First on our list was that we didn’t want to live in a subdivision or under an HOA.  Our current home is in a subdivision and we hate it and we also never wanted to have full control over what we do on our property.  This was harder to find that we realized at first because even in the country there are a lot of HOA’s popping up.

What we found was that most of what we liked was snapped up in an instant because of the hot seller’s market and that most would need to have a decent amount of renovations to make it into our dream home.  The closer we got to putting our house on the market, the more discouraged we became that we could even find a suitable existing house.  Towards the end of the summer we finally sat down and had another talk about what we were going to do and decided the house we wanted was more important than the land we wanted.  That we could plant trees and bushes, but retrofitting and existing house and borrowing someone else’s potential problems with an older home was not worth the money and risk.  A new home would come with warranties and guarantees and be exactly what we wanted.  No  more house projects, no more ‘oh we have to replace this or that’ for a while…no, we could just move in and enjoy our dream home.  So our thinking came around full circle in about 6 months’ time.

Back on the hunt for land, we started looking without having a realtor.  We set up Zillow.com and Realtor.com searches and were getting notifications for land on a fairly regular basis.  We found a plot of land that wasn’t exactly where we had pictured living, but would still work for our purposes and was at a fair price.  It was in front of some railroad tracks so they had not been able to sell it in over 3 years.  We did a little inquiry into the land to get the survey and a few other details.  Within 4 days of our inquiry they raised the price by 15 thousand dollars.  $15,000!!!  Ridiculous!  On a plot that had been sitting on the market for over 1,000 days! I am not one who plays games and I immediately no longer wanted the land.  So we were back on the hunt.

In the meantime we had been having meetings with various builders and were about to sign a contract with our first choice.  The new home consultant we were working with gave us the card of a real estate agent who specializes in land.  We contact this realtor and set up a search grid on MLS for land, but interestingly enough around the at same time I started looking just outside of our area at Marysville, Ohio.  Although it was a little further than we wanted to go, it had quick access to a major highway that would keep my husband’s commute to under 30 minutes.

We got info on the lots available and drove out to the land a couple times.  Our realtor contacted their realtor and we got close to putting an offer down on 2 lots to give us closer to the amount of land we wanted when at last minute something new popped up on my radar.  A mostly wooded lot just 5 miles further away for more than the cost of one of the other lots, but much less than the cost of buying two lots.

This lot was almost exactly what we had been looking for months ago when we gave up on the idea of building because we couldn’t find the right lot for us.  After a couple visits to the lot, and some inquiry, we quickly put an offer in on the lot because we learned they already had one offer and it was a low ball offer that they hadn’t accepted yet…there was still a window where we could get the lot.

We decided not to fool around.  We put in a full price offer and the 90 days due diligence before closing request of our builder.  The next day we were told that the seller would not even consider 90 days because he needed the money.  It was mentioned on the message that 30-40 days might be workable.  After discussing things with our realtor, we decided we would rewrite the offer for 45 days and hope we could get all the due diligence done in time.  Our realtor planned to re-write the offer that night and submit it; however, we got another phone call later in the day saying they now have multiple offers and wanted everyone’s highest and best offer by noon the next day.

Wow.  We didn’t know what to do.  It felt like again we were dealing with a seller that was playing games as we knew the other offer was a low ball offer, that offer plus ours technically constituted “multiple offers” and since it had been on and off the market for several years and was a little far out from Columbus, I really didn’t believe there was any other competition.  In the end our realtor advised us that if we really liked the land and we were already planning to do a 45 day offer, that we put in that offer but up the price by a mere $500.  I really didn’t like the way the whole thing was going down, but it was land like we hadn’t been able to find before and I knew my husband was already in love with it…so I went along.

By morning though, we didn’t like the way we were feeling pressured and the games that were being played.  We had prayed that if this was the land for us, the door would be open and if it wasn’t, the door to be shut.  This felt like a sign that we weren’t supposed to be buying this land.  So we called our realtor and told him not to submit the offer.  We didn’t like the games and we would just let the chips fall where they may.  We were prepared to lose the land and start looking for land again.

However…deep down I wondered if we would hear back from the seller.  I didn’t say anything to my husband, but I really thought the whole thing was a game and that they’d come calling when we didn’t submit an offer.  Well, sure enough, at 12:30 our realtor heard from the seller’s realtor.  She was shocked that we pulled out and told our realtor that we could get back in if we wanted.  Hahaha!  Of course our realtor  told her that his clients didn’t like the games being played and he would confer with us.  Immediately he called us to let us know what was going on and of course we fell back on the concern that 45 days would not be enough time to do what needs to get done to ensure that we can build on the land.

After some back and forth, the seller’s realtor told us that soils/septic testing had already been done (that would be one thing off the list of things we needed to get done in that 45 days) and she told our realtor that of course as long as we were moving forward, if we needed a little more time than the 45 days, it would be given.  It would take them a lot longer to relist, get a new buyer and close than just giving us an extra week or two if need be.  With that knowledge and our approval, our realtor re-wrote the offer with the 45 day close and cut the offer by $400 off list price.  Thus bringing the offer down to an even number and sending a message that their games cost them.

To be continued….

Thanks for reading!

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