The beginning of our house hunting experience began with searching for properties on sites like redfin and zillow. Having never purchased a house before, I had no idea what to look for, how to figure out what was in our budget, etc.
I started looking to purchase something on my own at first, and even tried to purchase this place on my own before we eventually purchased the place, but I had trouble with financing the property due to issues with the property, but we'll get into that later.
I found a mortgage calculator or 12 online and started there. I put in what I had for down payment + income, etc etc and it spit out a dollar amount that I could afford max. That became my max price in search parameters. Once I narrowed it down to a group of properties, I wasn't sure about how to pick a realtor, so I let one of those websites just assign me one. That was an error, and actually I let it pick my second realtor as well, but I did a little bit of research on her before we actually went with her.
The first realtor was from Colorado Springs, and was great with stuff in the Springs, but knew pretty much nothing at all about rural areas. The problem we kept running into and ultimately what has made this process difficult is that if there is a trailer on the property as the main home. It can't be older than June 15, 1976 to be considered a home due to lead and asbestos use prior to that date. Our trailer is from 1971, so you can't finance this property as a residence because of that rule, even though after testing there were no harmful substances found in the trailer. We couldn't finance the property on a land loan either because of all the structures that are on the property, so eventually we had to go with owner carrying the financing until we are able to refinance when the house is built to get a traditional home loan. Even that isn't guaranteed. So it's a risk, and I was heartbroken when I couldn't put the offer in because I couldn't find financing anywhere.
So we tried again, we looked at the house again, with the new realtor. I e mailed her and explained the situation that I ran into when trying to purchase the property, and she had been through all of this before. She lives in the area, and knew all about the rules in the county, how to get around the issues with the trailers, names of all sorts of people to help get rid of the trailers, she knew what she was looking at on the property as to what was good and what was bad. She told us not to submit an offer above a certain price because we could get a property that was a completely clean slate for less and it would cost less to bring everything in than it would for us to fix up this one. We sent in a lowball offer, and were shocked that it was accepted. So find a realtor that knows the area well, living there is preferable. Have a realtor that understands what it is that you want to do with the property. Look for reviews, look for people who specialize in the type of property that you are trying to purchase. Listen carefully when he or she gives advice about the properties that you're looking at.
When you find a property, research it. The previous owner didn't get his permission slips for anything, so we're having to start from scratch even though there's a house up here that's been here for probably 30 years or so. Search county records for permits, and spent the $10 or whatever fee it costs for them to do a paper records search of the property. Know what permits are already in place. Look for the well and septic on file is applicable and KNOW what the septic is rated for as you don't want to purchase a place with a septic in place for a 1 bedroom house when you're planning to do a 3 bedroom house, and think you can keep that septic system in place. They'll shoot you down before you can blink.
What is your well rated for? household use? can you use it for livestock as well? Think about your plans for homesteading, does the county allow you to keep livestock? if so what kind? Building codes? Want to build outside the box? Make sure you can follow the county building codes.
SO much to consider when looking for a home! If you've never purchased before, how the heck do you know what to look for? So think about what you want to do with your property and make sure the place that you choose will allow those opportunities.