The decision to buy a farm should not be made lightly. Operating a farm is a physically demanding job. The weather will play a large part of your financial success, and worrying about that makes farming a stressful job. Many farmers work a regular job in the city, and then come home to spend time in the fields or working on equipment or tending to animals. There are lots of things that you should take into consideration when you start your search to buy a farm.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Real estate agent
- Loan officer
Decide if you will be growing crops, animals or both. The answer to that will help to narrow your search for the type of farm land, house and buildings.
Meet with a mortgage lender to determine how much you can afford. Calculate additional borrowed funds if you need to purchase farming equipment. When you start looking for farm properties, the closer to town you look and the smaller the acreage, the higher the price will be. No matter where you look, you may find better deals starting your search in winter.
Check on line at www.realtor.com to get an idea of what is available, noting the price per acre. Watch for auctions and foreclosures listed in your local newspaper or on the Internet. Working with a Realtor can reduce the amount of time you need to spend looking, so be specific in telling the Realtor exactly what you want. If you will be growing crops, you will need buildings large enough to store farm equipment. If you will have animals, will they need pasture area? How far from town are you willing to be? Keep in mind the drive to work (if applicable) and the distance that family and friends will need to drive to visit, which may limit how often they visit you. How many bedrooms does the house need to have?
Examine potential property thoroughly. Hire an inspector with experience evaluating farm properties. How old is the septic system and when was it last cleaned? How old is the pump to well water? Get the water tested. Is a water softening system needed or currently in use? Is there an above- or below-ground tank for household fuel (oil or propane) or for equipment fuel (gasoline), and if yes, what is the condition of those containers? If the property has a wooded area, will that interfere with your plans? There may be no cable television/Internet service available; can you use a TV antenna (fewer channels) and dial-up Internet access, or satellite or direct access TV? If the previous owner raised sheep but you want to grow corn and raise a few chickens for household use, are you prepared financially and time-wise to make the changes needed to the buildings? Review the professional inspector's report to determine how much additional investment is needed (if any) to get the property to the condition you want. Look at the land to determine if the terrain will meet your needs. If you plan to have a horse farm, hilliness will be OK, but if you want to plant a crop, you may want to look for more flat terrain. If you have school-age children, where would they meet the bus?
Negotiate the price of the farm with the assistance of the Realtor. If the final price exceeds the funds that your lender said you would be eligible for, then check with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA), who can help with the purchase of land, equipment and livestock.
Tips and warnings
- Become aware of country laws. For instance, if your property has a stream going through it, you cannot build a dam or redirect the water to create a pond. That would restrict water flow to others downstream from you.
- Investigate alternative energy options for your rural home, like solar or wind power, or a gas-operated generator to reduce electric expense or to cover you in an event of power failure.
- Depending on how far away from a municipality you are, you may find that trash pickup is not available. You may need to haul your trash to the dump, or you may be able to bury or burn the trash on your property.
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