Planning to Purchase a Homestead?

Homestead buying?  Here’s an example how not to do it.

A reader named Bruce recently asked me how we ended up at the farm.  It’s a story that has elements of warning that I probably should share.  So, here it is.  Thanks, Bruce!

Early in our marriage, my husband Nicolae and I enjoyed conversations that included:

“Someday on the farm…”

So, the idea of living on a farm has been with us for close to 25 years.  But I contribute the actual move to rural Oregon as my comeuppance for an overestimation of my strategic skills and a major underestimation of the meaning of those earlier conversations.

We had returned from Singapore and moved into a 7-acre property in Ashland.  It was a beautiful place that overlooked Emigrant Lake.  We enjoyed fixing it up, putting in a barn, planting trees, etc.  I believed that this was the farm we had always talked about.

Two years passed and I was antsy; I wanted to take a nice romantic weekend before the weather turned cold.   Week after week Nicolae said that he was too busy to schedule time away.  I grew impatient as I felt my hope for a summer weekend slipping away.

It was time to apply additional measures:

I remembered having stumbled across a rural property on the Internet years earlier, but the remote location and the scope of the 150-acre property kept me silent.  This property had everything on our checklist, but the scale was way beyond a hobby farm.  I searched for it online and found it was still available.

Okay, I admit it; I used the real estate listing to lure Nicolae to take a romantic weekend.  *Stupid, right? *  I was alarmed that he agreed so readily, but I greedily longed for some R&R, so I plugged my ears to the warning bells.

I called a Eugene real estate agent, Heather Romito (Whom I highly recommend, btw), and we scheduled the business side of our weekend.  At the time, I had felt a little sorry for Heather since I knew we would not be buying property.  * Oh, the humor! *

We arrived at her office at and went straight to the most remote property.  The moment we arrived, Nicolae jumped out of the car and walked up the driveway.  (I didn’t know it at the time, but Pete, the owner, watched Nicolae expression as he approached.  He said that he knew “right then and there” the house was sold.)

I did everything I could to avoid touring the antiquated home, but Pete was a sly old horse-trader and quite persuasive.

“Aren’t you going to look inside?” He asked, standing on shaking legs.

Pete placed a hand on my arm and directed me toward the door.  My resolve melted with his smile.  I stepped across the threshold into the 80-year-old house.  The house was in a bad state of repair with exposed 2x4s and electrical wire.   I was exhausted thinking of all the work ahead of whoever got suckered into buying the place.

As I entered the brown and hunter green kitchen, my knees gave way.  I had to grab the sink to keep from falling.

“Oh no! We’re going to live here.”

I still don’t know if I spoke this thought out loud, but from that moment, I knew our fate.  Later the sensation was confirmed when I actually heard the echo of children’s laughter as narrow doors squeaked open to reveal an upper floor.

Needless to say, I did not get the romantic weekend.  We returned home, collected the kids, and returned to the farm the very next day.  The girls swam at the river while I negotiated the sale with Pete.  (He was a better horse-trader than am I.)

It was a shoot-from-the-hip type of deal.  So, Bruce, if you are reading this, I wouldn’t recommend our method.

That fateful day was over six years ago, and my predictions were correct:  The people who got suckered into buying the farm are exhausted.

The irony: Six years later, I have yet to go on that romantic weekend.

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4 Responses to Planning to Purchase a Homestead?

  1. I definitely read it! How could I not?

    So it sounds like the owner financed the deal? That sounds like another great story…

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, insights and story with me/us…

    Admittedly, we are ‘relatively’ broke and the idea of buying a farm or property seems distant, but we are encouraged by your reports. My wife asked me to send her the links to your site so she can connect.

    Have a great week!



    • Kathleen says:

      Thanks, Bruce!

      Pete had financed the deal. We were lucky to work with him. The good news now is that prices are so much lower than they once were. There are a lot of rural properties available with owner finance.

      Your questions and comments have made me dig a little deeper to find our original check list. I will post it soon to give you our starting point. If you have any other checklist items to share, I’d love your input.


  2. Thanks for the insights!
    We have initially thought about homesteading for ‘us’. That is, raise our own food, live simple, etc., but willing to trade or barter with neighbors or family. Do you farm for profit? Was that always part of the plan? I thought your event location was a great idea and way to share the beauty of your location with ‘guests’…

    Thanks, Bruce

    • Kathleen says:

      Hi Bruce,

      We had always thought that the farm would bring in some income. Farming is a lot of hard work, and more stressful than one would thing. A 9-5 job may not be rewarding, but you can leave the stress at work. Farming, even on the little farms, is a 24/7 occupation. Frost hits, pigs get out, an animal becomes hurt or sick: One has to be available at any hour to do what is needed. (It’s a lot more work than I had expected … and I had expected a lot of work!)

      I work outside the farm as Nicolae builds up the orchard for our future distillery. I think it is safest plan to not rely entirely on the farm for an income. I have close friends who have a profitable organic farm. It took them eight years to break even. Even still, we see farms losing crops every year.

      Farmers must have written the adage: Hope for the best, and plan for the worst.

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