5 things I like/dislike about country living

I never thought I would live in the country. I’ve always been a neighborhood guy. I like having pizza delivered. I like not having wild animals around, especially snakes. I hate snakes. When I was a kid, I was convinced that living in the country was the surest way to be murdered since nobody was around to hear you screaming for help. Or get eaten by a wild animal. I never investigated the statistics, but I was sure that living in town was MUCH safer than living in the country.

My love of seeing trees instead of concrete, hearing nature instead of traffic and leaf blowers, feeling calmness over chaos eventually convinced me that I could only get all that in the country.

So, here are my top 5 things I like and dislike about being in the country. I hope it helps you decide if country life is for you!

THINGS I LIKE:

  1. Peace. You can’t get this type of peace anywhere else. You wake up and everything is so calm. You notice more enjoyable little things like the wind blowing through trees.
  2. Space. I used to think having a big yard was space, but there is nothing like neighbors being 500 feet or more away from you.
  3. Sunsets. I have always loved the sunset. It is even better when paired with hills and trees than your neighbor’s roof and power lines.
  4. Being alone. I am either the world’s most introverted extrovert or the world’s most extroverted introvert. Whichever it is, I really enjoy when I am home. It recharges me.
  5. Being outside. When you live in the country, you tend to think of your property as land, not a yard. I don’t know if this makes sense, but when I was in a neighborhood, I thought my house was the property and it was just on a lot. Now I have switched it and think of my property being the land on which my house just sits.

THINGS I DON’T LIKE:

  1. Gravel. It’s usually all over the road and at the end of driveways. I am too into cars to not have this bother me.
  2. Snakes. I have only seen two of them but I did find a 5 foot skin that one left…..which means it is bigger than that now.
  3. Mowing. I actually love mowing. Always have. I just don’t like that it is a half day commitment. I especially don’t like it when you are half way done and it starts raining.
  4. Mowing.
  5. Mowing.

That’s it. Overall, being in the country has been super nice. The positives far outweigh the negatives. Every house in the country I have sold, the sellers have all missed their homes. Most of them moved back into town because they were driving more than they wanted to be. It can be a little tough for those with kids who are always needing shuttled to and from band practices, sports and other events.

Sold for 25% OVER list price!!

I listed a manufactured home in a tiny town in northern Scott County on 15 acres last week. I have had it in my pipeline for close to a year so I have been watching the market in the area for a while. Prices have gone up quite a bit, but lately similar properties have all been listed for about $160k.

So we got pictures and put it on for $160k. I fully expected it to sell for a little more since the market value is no longer determined by recent sales. It is determined by how desperate the buyer is.

Turns out they get more desperate every day.

We got 8 offers. 10 actually but two were for a financing type that did not do manufactured homes so we can’t really count those.

One offer was $155k. I always laugh at those buyers and scratch my head. What rock have they been hiding under that they and their realtor don’t know that practically every house in multiple offers goes for at least list price.

Five of the offers had escalation clauses. That is where the buyer pretty much says they will pay so much more than any other offer up to a certain price.

I got one offer for $200k. My mind was blown. No escalation clause. Just a flat $200k.

This gave me the chance to tell the buyer’s agents with the escalation clauses that they might want to up their amount if their buyer really wanted the house.

Fortunately one buyer whose offer had some better secondary terms raised their escalation clause to be $200k. I have seen where people throw out some high number on an escalation clause to get their offer noticed but they have no intention of every going that high. I called that buyer’s agent to confirm they were legitimately willing to go that high. They were. They got the house for $200k. Next step is to convince the appraiser it is worth that.

What is it worth?

What is it worth?

That is a question I get asked a lot.

Sometimes I can do a little quick math in my head and come up with a ballpark number.  Most of the time my default answer is that I need to study the recent sales….AKA “The Comps.”

When the market was flat, it was easier to do it all in my head.  I could think “Oh, I sold that house over there a couple years ago, and I remember showing that one down there last year and it sold for this much.”  The past couple of years the market has been appreciating so much that the best answer is to look at the comps.  When values are going up (or down) you should always look at the most recent sales to determine value.  It’s a big purchase for a client and they need an agent who will put in the time to make sure they don’t over pay.

I love studying the comps.

Some times they are easy.  Like in a newer neighborhood developed by a mass builder.  Most of the houses are the same age and in the same condition.  It doesn’t take long to come up with a pretty accurate value.

It gets harder when the house is more unique.  Like an older house where every house in the neighborhood has a different floor plan,  and all are in varying conditions.

I think the most challenging ones are rural properties.  I LOVE rural properties.  Part of my reason for enjoying them so much is purely selfish.  I love driving out in the country so it is always a treat just to get there.  It is also interesting to see these properties, whether listing them or working with a buyer.  No two are alike.  Also, there is a relationship between the house and the land that must work.  I often have buyers who like the house but don’t like the land, and the other way around.  That is why I always try to depict both when I list rural properties.  I know that is important to the buyers.

Here are some of the things I look for when determining value for rural properties:

  1.  Location-The closer to the subject house the better.  This can be a challenge because there are fewer properties and fewer sales in the country.
  2. Age-You often find a wide range of ages in the country, which also means a wide range of floor plan types.  If I have a mid 90s house that I am trying to find the value on,  I try not to use a brand new house or one from the 1960s even if they are next door.
  3. Lot size-The closer in size to the subject house the better.  If I’m trying to find the value of a house on 1 acre, I might use houses on up to 3 acres.  If I have a 5 acre lot, I might compare up to 10 acres.  Most 1-10 acre buyers just want to be in the country.  Most 1-3 acre buyers just want a big yard.  Some 5-10 acre buyers have horses or need that space.  Over 10 acres and you are often looking at somebody who wants a working farm.

A good rule of thumb when using recent sales to determine the value of a property is the fewer adjustments you need to make, the more accurate the value will be.  Looking at the comps is really studying buyer behavior.  You are saying a buyer paid this much for this house, and the house I’m trying to figure out the value on is 300 square feet bigger, so it should sell for the same price PLUS the value of that extra 300 square feet.  That is why beginning with the best 3-4 houses is key to ending with an accurate value.

I showed a house last night to some friends of mine.  They asked what I thought it was worth.  I pretty much told them everything you have just read.  When I went to look at the recent sales this morning, I found 3 houses on the same street that had sold within the past year that were all on similar sized lots, and were similar sized houses that were all built around the same time.

Sometimes comping rural properties can be easy too I guess.