Friday, June 19, 2009

There Must Be Gold In That There Hill!

Earlier this week, we were driving around wasting gas, something we rarely do, seeing what there was to see when we spotted the faded for sale sign almost completely obscured by the grass along the side of the road. The tract of land was thirteen and a half acres with trees around three of the four sides and a nice big hill right in the middle with a two-track gravel path winding from the road to the top of the hill. We drove to the top of the hill and found the view outstanding. There was a nice flat spot on top to build a nice little house and barn, you had plenty of trees around you with some open ground that although unfarmable, could probably make a nice pasture. It was close to the town where I work and seemed like a perfect place to call home someday in the future.

I am not in the market for land to build a home and won't be until sometime in the future when my wife's career has stabilized. But since the sign as so old and faded and the economy still in the dumps, I thought I might call them up to see if there was a deal to be had. If the price was right, we might be able to scrape together the money and just own the land as an investment with perhaps the intention to build on it someday. My wife scraped the grass from the sign, wrote down the number and we went home.

The next day, I used my cyber snooping skills to find out the owner of the land but it was a name I didn't recognize. I did discover that on the backside of the hill was a large section of land that had been bought up and was being turned into a subdivision of houses. I suspected that the owner of the land on the side of the hill I was interested in was probably trying to cash in on this development but I didn't know how right my suspicions had been until I received a phone mail from the guy later on in the day. I was told that it was for sale, the site was 13.5 acres and although he was entertaining any offers, he was asking $185,000 for the land.

Golly gee, only $13,703.70 per acre! What a deal. Maybe if he had been asking $3000 per acre which is what prime farmland in this area goes for or $2000 an acre which is what good timberland with recreational possibilities goes for, neither of which this land comes close to qualifying for, I might have called him back and made him an offer in my price range but this guy was so far off on a different planet, I didn't even waste my time. The development on the backside of the hill had the fortune only to sell a few high priced lots before the economy bubble burst and the other lots are on the market for about $5000 per acre and have remained unsold for over a year now. Perhaps in five years or so when we are ready to make our move, I'll go pick up the rotting remains of that guys sign and give him another call if I can make out the phone number and see what he is down too in price. That or perhaps I'll just offer to give him any gold that he obviously thinks is under the surface if he would sell it at a reasonable price.


R. Sherman said...

He's obviously not distressed enough. My guess would be that he' owned it for awhile, but doesn't have to sell it and thinks the economy will spring back.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I've been looking around for 10-20 acres more for recreational, build a cabin purposes than anything and they're getting harder to find. Most people in my area have three to four hundred acre tracts and they don't want to subdivide.


Maybe someday.


sage said...

There are plenty such tracts up here, Ed! For that price, you can get a nice home on it.

TC said...

I'll babysit for gold.

I'm just saying.

Ron said...

You could find a lot of acreage for your money down here, too. Buying land is a compromise between the conflicting desires when all is said and done, I think.


The Real Mother Hen said...

Hhmm, I had to read it again because I thought $185k for 13.5 acres was cheap. Now I see that land price does vary greatly here.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

As I read your post I couldn't help thinking of the legal advertisments in our paper (up to about four pages of a ten page paper)where one of my former teaching colleagues is currently being sued by almost every credit company in the county for some 22,000,000 dollars or so, the security being a 35.5 acre plot of ground. She and her husband were cleaning up developing land in this area, but quit a little too late. I can't even conceive of a retired college teacher having anything worth that sum, but apparently some banks in our area thought 35.5 acres and her track record was enough.

Murf said...

Happy Father's Day, Ed!

Ed Abbey said...

R. Sherman - He is obviously trolling for rich suckers, something I have done in the past when I'm not really in a hurry to sell. I can't blame him.

Sage - I think there are good tracts to be had just about anywhere, except perhaps on either coast, for that price. Like I said, $2000 per acre of here is living pretty high on the hog for land like his.

TC - I think I would too, even if it was 30 screaming girls for an entire week!

Ron - That last statement about conflicting desires was very provocative. Care to explain?

Mother Hen - It truly does. According to the government, my quarter acre here in town is worth almost $20,000. But this was well outside of town with no access to the benefits of living in town that my $20,000 went towards.

3 Score - I'm always amazed at what kind of messes people get themselves into. We've got a similar situation up here too. As I told my wife, the world has a way of catching up to you eventually.

Murf - Thanks!

Ron said...

By way of explanation - just that when we listed out the 100 things we were looking for when going to buy land (ideal location, nice clearing, low taxes, close to decent schools, short commute, close to town, no nearby neighbors, good price...) it became obvious that we had to broaden our search and settle for something that addressed the most important things for us.

We made a list of all the various features land comes with, and gave each a rating. Then, we rated each parcel based on each of those features. That way we could be fairly objective about comparing different types of land. In the end, we found the best possible combination of the most important things to us.

It would have been nice to have a clearing and pasture already established. But we got a good price, a lot of privacy, and liked the location. So, we have our compromise.


Beau said...

Like R. land is getting harder to find around us- at least in the affordable category. Either that or they're selling huge million dollar tracts. But it's fun to dream and plan- sounds like Ron came up with a wonderful way to find what was important.