RESILIENT HOUSE- suburban homestead options 4 & 5 lost to cash buyers

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Being a home owner of a house that lets us produce something gives us more options than just renting. We have more options and more opportunities by owning a home-we just have to find one that will allow the opportunities to happen and not hinder it. No HOAs, reasonable city regulations and some land.

This is a short update on 2 homes we bid on and both lost. Both properties had at least .25 acres and we lost both of them to cash buyers.

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Checklist from the previous post:
Our approach is more of a suburban homestead solution. We’ll live in a suburb in the Dallas area, I can commute to work and grow some of our own food. So far, I have whittled down my requirements to the following:

  1. good solar orientation for growing food
  2. good solar orientation for cold weather
  3. freedom within local laws to have some livestock
  4. space in the yard to grow food (preferrably in the backyard)
  5. space in the yard to grow something for market/sale
  6. fireplace for heating
  7. brick exterior preferred
  8. parking for 2 cars to protect us from hail (which we are still dealing with in one vehicle)
  9. distance from any facility/farm that can cause health concerns or dangers
  10. not if a flood zone

House no.4

This house was perfect from both mine and my wife’s reqts except that it did not have a garage. Best condition of all homes we saw built around that time. Any updates to it were done with great care and with good quality work. The yard was perfect, the layout was perfect. We even met the owner on the day we left after seeing it and totally connected with them.

House no.5

We saw this house on a listing on a Friday, drove the neighborhood on Saturday and luckily was able to see the house later that same day. It was seriously outdated on the interiors and needed lots of cosmetic work. However the structure seemed solid. There was a comprehensive list of previous repairs and maintenance done on the house, contained in 2 binders we saw during the visit. The backyard was tiny, but if fenced off for privacy I can do some things there.

suburban homestead


We bid on house no. 4 and 5 last week. House no.4 was ideal, no.5  I could make it work based on some ideas we came up with for House no.3-the one in Sachse. Monday afternoon we lost both bids. We were informed that both homes picked cash buyers. We were put up as back up buyers on House no.4 but that was as close as we got.

On both homes we were outbid by cash buyers. I can imagine a few reasons for this:

  • Investors are buying up the best deals
  • These may be from families who are being relocated for work in TX by their companies
  • Homeowners who are using delayed financing, paying from their other assets initially

If investors are purchasing like crazy in this market, I hope I do not continue to be a renter for the next few years. I can only imagine how expensive the rents would be then, and in these neighborhoods, as years go by. It is tough to be competing with these investors in this market, but then it will be tougher if I remain as a renter in the next few years to come.

On families getting moved by their corporate companies, it just shows how much economic growth is coming to Texas. I am not an economic expert, but there has been a lot of coverage on the news about how companies are relocating to Texas that I do not need to be an economic expert to know this anyway. I have met some people who were moved here and I heard how sweet the deals were for them when it came to their companies helping them purchase a home.

We have lost a few bids on houses. I did not immediately realize the emotional toll this has on my family. I have encouraged my wife to not get too emotionally attached to a dream home until we win and move into it. Still, despite the ridiculous competition, I have strengthened resolve that we need to get into a home sooner than later. If we stay as renters, it will only be tougher to purchase a home later on. It will also be more expensive to remain as a renter.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

 

RESILIENT HOUSE- suburban homestead 3

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Being a home owner of a house that lets us produce something gives us more options than just renting. We have more options and more opportunities by owning a home-we just have to find one that will allow the opportunities to happen and not hinder it. No HOAs, reasonable city regulations and some land.


We are still looking for a property in the Dallas area that is suitable for a suburban homestead approach. To summarize what I am looking for in general, here’s a quote from the last post:

Our approach is more of a suburban homestead solution. We’ll live in a suburb in the Dallas area, I can commute to work and grow some of our own food. So far, I have whittled down my requirements to the following:

  1. good solar orientation for growing food
  2. good solar orientation for cold weather
  3. freedom within local laws to have some livestock
  4. space in the yard to grow food (preferrably in the backyard)
  5. space in the yard to grow something for market/sale
  6. fireplace for heating
  7. brick exterior preferred
  8. parking for 2 cars to protect us from hail (which we are still dealing with in one vehicle)
  9. distance from any facility/farm that can cause health concerns or dangers
  10. not if a flood zone

I also use this great link from www.backyardchickens to do a quick check if the house I am looking at is in a city that allows chickens

http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws

After doing a quick check thru backyardchickens.com, if the city is okay with chickens, then I go and read the rest of the city’s regulations by searching these 2 keywords in Google – “municode” and the name of the city.

backyard chicken city regulations search

Doing this gives me a quick preview of the city laws and how laid back or how controlling the local regulations might be.

As an example, this week we ventured farther South of Dallas into Mesquite. Mesquite promotes itself as the “rodeo capital of Texas”. My wife explored several homes there which I mapped out from closest to furthest. She loved it and still raves about the great homes. However, that night after exploring the homes in that city, we did the search noted above and we learned that Mesquite does not allow chickens. You even need permits for horses in some cases. Honestly I found this hypocritical for a city that promotes itself as having freedom. So, just like that we crossed out hypocritical cowboy suburbs from our options.


HOUSE NO. 3

We were blessed to find multiple homes today that worked. We found one in Sachse and a few in Garland.

I will focus on a house we found in Sachse.

Suburban homestead 3

 

It has been really difficult finding a house which has at least 0.20 acres. After that frustrating day in Mesquite my wife zeroed in on several properties with the right lot size and found this house in Mesquite. It met most of the requirements above but the yard was in the wrong side of the house from growing something. The rear yard was facing east and was covered in trees. The front yard was a lawn facing the west side.If I was going to grow food and have chickens in this front yard it was going to take some work. Mainly because it would be too hot and the front yard because of the western sun and with chickens it may mean I need to make the coop more “attractive”.

 

Driving there I was glad to see several neighborhood houses that did not have a manicured front yard. Old cars parked on the front for repairs, unmanicured lawns- these are good signs for me as it means you can do what you want and the city will not bother you.

The house did not look that interesting on the outside. It was a real downer the first time I saw it with the front lawn eating up all the space.


INTERIORS

We went inside the house on Saturday-they had a scheduled open house period. The interiors was all done up. All we had to do was move in our stuff and I could get straight to working on my exterior improvements. The house price obviously reflected this, but the main benefits to me were obvious:

  • save time on improving the interiors ourselves
  • save time and get ahead on improving the exterior and I may get my garden up this season
  • all the new things installed are working and have warranties
  • wife is super happy about the house and this will keep her happy for a long time

The disadvantages for this are:

  • we pay for the big bump up in the house value due to the improvements which we can do ourselves (we also pay the interest on all of that)
  • we do not have any memories on doing the project
  • I will have to be creative with my exterior improvements
  • the rear yard still is not a great size and is not the greatest for solar orientation

We asked a ton of questions on this house while the agents were there. Got lots of answers too. I finally got to see the backyard as well during the day and looked for some spots for a potential garden. I ran a scenario in my head how we could make this work:

Given that the house is close to the price range we would pay for the other options we were willing to make offers on, I accepted the price. We would not be making money from this house when we sell it later-at least not as much money if we did the renovations ourselves.

My wife would love the home, and would keep her inspired and give her a feeling of contentment. She might get started on her hobbies as she gets inspired by the house. This would be great as life is amazing when your spouse is happy.

suburban homestead privacy bamboo
An example of bamboo screening for privacy

My wife suggested enclosing the front yard with bamboo. I liked the idea. This would take time and probably be about 2 years for there to be enough bamboo density for me to work with. Given that I will likely spend the 1st year just finding a spot for a long term garden, the 2 years should go by fast. I can focus on other projects til the bamboo is ready.


THE REAR YARD-MY SPACE FOR POTENTIAL PRODUCTION

The rear yard can hold my chickens. The ground is sparse. This is a sign that the yard does not get great sun-at least I think so. It is like my current house in Plano. This might not work for a garden. I did pick out a corner which had some good sun when we were there. The question was how long that sunlight would last through the day and throughout the year. I saw it in March, where would this shade be in August when it fries my garden?

suburban homestead
Sketch of a creek behind the rear yard

The rear yard is adjacent to a creek. I imagine this might have some bugs living in it andI can have my chicken coop right up against the fence. Any bugs wandering into the coop would add to my chicken’s diet. They would need to be in a coop in pretty much all the cities we looked at. This would also protect them from any animals coming from the creek. The creek was also in an easement-I would use this distance as part of the required clearance from the coop to the adjacent homes. I can make this work I thought.

The property has a line for natural gas. It’s not hooked up to the stove, but at least I will only need to extend plumbing to other appliances from the fireplace. Natural gas as a utility is a very resilient system and great for saving utility bills. You can connect them to a generator with some work, and they can provide you with good cheap heat even when you lose electricity.

The rear yard would also have space for a rain water storage solution and a great place for a small aquaponics set up. Both of these sound attractive to me because of previous failures growing in the ground.


CONCLUSION

The house was very attractive and turns out had already picked up 10 offers in that one Saturday. I imagine the competition was very high for it because of the interiors and because of the price for that house in that city.

Even though I had some ways planned out in my head on how to make the poor solar orientation and lot layout work for me, I think me and my wife both agree we should not offer on the house. We will put in our work and improve the interiors and we can pocket the savings and the profit. We also would have to raise the price high to compete with the other offers. This house is just a bit too hot for us to get. And, even if we offer high on it, the appraised value may not work for the seller of the house and us having to come up with the remaining balance.
The great thing though, is instead of just relying on finding a house with the correct lot layout, going thru this house made me realize I have quite a few options to make the lot work. I can be creative with my solutions and if I have enough land with no regulations hindering me I can still make it work. This is a valuable lesson learned which I am applying to the other homes we are still looking at.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

RESILIENT HOUSE 2-Suburban homestead 2

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Being a home owner of a house that lets us produce something gives us more options than just renting. We have more options and more opportunities by owning a home-we just have to find one that will allow the opportunities to happen and not hinder it. No HOAs, reasonable city regulations and some land.


We have been looking for a house to purchase. This will be our first time to buy a home and we have been renting for years now. Living in NYC back then, buying real estate just was not an option for us-mainly due to cost. Since we moved to Texas, we realized how this is actually very attainable. We have been shopping for months and have been educating ourselves as owners and as investors (as selling the home in the future is always a possibility).

One of my main guidelines in this purchase-which is one of the biggest purchases in a family’s lifetime-is: can the home help me live a more resilient lifestyle?

By this I mean, rather than being just a property that consumes my resources, will this home actually produce for me?

This is a homesteading mindset-making a property produce for you instead of just consume. Moving it more in the direction of being an asset rather than just a liability.

With our current situation, I cannot force my family to moving to a full on acreage homestead to grow our own food and distance ourselves from a city. My wife and I have compromised and agreed that we will live within the city limits and find a place where she can still be close to areas of entertainment. We have multiple family visitors in a year and my wife likes to take them around the city. Also, she is not comfortable with the thought of isolation or distance from neighbors yet. I myself am not sure if I am capable of the workload of maintaining and utilizing that much space.

Our approach is more of a suburban homestead solution. We’ll live in a suburb in the Dallas area, I can commute to work and grow some of our own food. So far, I have whittled down my requirements to the following:

  1. good solar orientation for growing food
  2. good solar orientation for cold weather
  3. freedom within local laws to have some livestock
  4. space in the yard to grow food (preferrably in the backyard)
  5. space in the yard to grow something for market/sale
  6. fireplace for heating
  7. brick exterior preferred
  8. parking for 2 cars to protect us from hail (which we are still dealing with in one vehicle)
  9. distance from any facility/farm that can cause health concerns or dangers
  10. not if a flood zone

HOUSE NO. 2

We started to look at Garland more. It is about 30 minutes from Dallas and has great pricing on homes. Plus, the restrictions on parking on the street and owning livestock are much less than in Rowlett-which had House no. 1.

Almost every city will have their own set of regulations. If you want to check your city, you can search (name of city) and “municode”. It often has better search results than (name of city) and regulations. Here is my prospective city’s municode:

https://www.municode.com/library/ar/garland_county/codes/code_of_ordinances

You can have fun browsing the city regulations or you can also use great sites like BackyardChickens.com where they have a quick guide on local laws. They are updated (at least the city I looked at was).

http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws

I am planning to have chickens or rabbits in the yard, so checking this is important for me. With this house in this new city, we can have coops as long as they are 30’ away from the next house. This is much better than Rowlett’s 50’. I can also have 4 chickens instead of just 2. I imagine we will be looking at Garland more, as I am liking Rowlett less. Plus, as I mentioned in my last post for House No. 1, Rowlett had overreaching laws about parking trailers in the streets.

buying suburban homestead

House no. 2 had a great location. It was on a corner lot and had an L-shaped backyard. Lots of space for me to grow stuff and use for all kinds of things. Here’s an image of the property from Google Earth.

suburban homestead

The house is quite old, built in 1978. I imagine we will deal with asbestos and lead.

It has 3 bedrooms and 2bathrooms-what we wanted. And the layout of the rooms were focused on one side of the house. This makes it easier for security and protection for me and my kids. If I am every in a situation where there might be an intruder in the home, I have to cover only one hallway.The bedrooms are not insanely big, so we can heat them efficiently too.

It has a nice great living room with a corner fireplace. Nice vaulted ceilings-which will help keep it cool in the Texas summer. The heat hopefully will radiate nicely even with the ceiling height.

buying suburban homestead

Nice sized kitchen. This is good because it is space we can produce things in – going back to the house as being a producer instead of a consumer. I used to can meat. I can do that easier if we have space. I also can cook bulk meals better if we have a well laid out kitchen. Bulk meals save money if you can do it.

We have a 2 car garage which has great access from a major road at therear-not a one lane service road. One lane service roads are a problem if you end up having 2 cars on them at the same time-which is often the case. The house backs up to a main road, plus there is a wide strip of grass separating the house from the road. This gives me even more air and distance from adjacent houses.

buying suburban homestead

House no. 2 is on a corner lot. So I have the road and strip of green on the back, then on my side is another road which has a city park across it. This is ideal for me as that gives me distance from other homes, it’s one less nosy neighbor I may have to deal with and it is absolutely a source for insects, birds and squirrels. This is great from a permaculture perspective.

suburban homestead

The backyard has a nice covered patio with a concrete slab flooring-where I can set up a small garden and small workspace for me. On occasion I will work on something which needs to be outside,but not on the dirt. This may be a small carpentry project for example. I imagine I can do a lot of these and still be comfortable in this kind of set up. Plus, the layout allows access to the garage and to the kitchen. Highly ideal for tools, breaks and I can also see straight into the living room to keep an eye on my kids while working.

buying suburban homestead

It also has some good trees on the yard. I think these are just enough for shade to grow plants and not burn them. My son has dreamed of a tree house, I can build one for him here. It does not have great solar orientation for me, but given the shape and size of the yard I thought I had some flexibility to make it work for my goals.

We put an offer on the house. After much back and forth my wife and I agreed on offering a good amount above the asking price. We also offered to cover some paperwork typically covered by the owner.


Update: the house was posted on Friday afternoon and we went to see it that same afternoon. By Saturday evening we made an attractive offer on the house.

On Sunday afternoon we were told that we did not get the house. Our agent said that this may have been due to a cash buyer. We didn’t have details on what the accepted offer was. We told our broker that if the house comes back on the market that we wouldstill be interested. House no.2 offered us a lot of options and really got our imagination going. However, we did tell ourselves that if we do not get this house, thenitis justnot for us. We are okay with that,and we cannot offer more on the housebecause then we might end up underwater or in foreclosure later on. So today we are still looking for one.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

 

Finding a house fit for resilience

My family and I have been planning on buying a house and hope to do so in the next few months. There are a lot of things to consider in buying a house,these are some of the more unconventional considerations I have. These may rage against what your broker will say, but then again, these are unconventional ideas for unconventional times.

strawberry-manion-high-school

I do not get too hung up on the school district.

My wife hates this, but I do not believe the public school system will be as prominent in the future. The flaws in the school system has been made more obvious with the surge of entrepreneurship-and people are realizing that school only teaches kids to be wage slaves. There is a massive growth in alternative schooling and public schools are being shut down all over the country.
If your home value is tied to the local school district, then your value goes down when they do. BUT your taxes will probably remain the same.

farmers-market-17

The city should have a good local, robust economy

We are not looking at distant cities, but just those around us. We scouted some ideal locations a few weeks back-however after checking out the city info, it turns out they have a couple of large universities in the area. This is not an issue by itself, but this may mean the local economy is tied to the college (probably is). My issue there is the future of the university as a thriving institution. Fore more info, Google “student loan bubble”.
A few other considerations are:
  • is the area dependent on manufacturing jobs which might be automated? 
  • Are there large retail areas which are showing signs of decay? 
  • Are there signs of rezoning for apartment construction?
  • How much land is still undeveloped?
unique-backyard-garden-clawfoot-bathtub-planter-box-eclectic-landscape-by-melissa-mascara-design

The city should not have regulations about homesteading

A few cities in my area-including my current one-have restrictions to owning livestock in the backyard. If we are not purchasing a large lot, if we are staying in the suburbs, I at least need to be free to have some type of livestock. As an example, it turns out that most cities we looked at only allow 2 chickens.
This ties to my plans for gardening also. I plan to have a good sized, producing garden in my yard. I do not want any restrictions on rain catchment or water storage or where I can install a trellis. These things don’t sound important-until you realize that you cannot build them.

No HOAs

I do not want to be burdened by my neighbor’s preferences. I do not want to fund their authority to dictate to others or to myself. Do not talk to me about property values-I plan to address those from a higher vantage point that does not need the HOA as an excuse to exist.
rinspeed_16x9

Distance is not as big an issue

Travel distance is still an issue but it may notbe as big. With the predicted arrival of autonomous cars, it will be easier to commute a 20 mile distance to the office. Plus the fact that telecommuting will be a more common part of most jobs in the future. The 20 mile commute may even be a very pleasing experience, where one gets to escape from the humdrum tasks and focus on personal leisure-like writing or reading. You will of course still need to consider the time to commute, as that would be time away from the family. But, with robocars and telecommuting you have a lot of options compared to how things used  to be.
So there you go, a short list of things I consider when we look for a house. These may sound contrary to most advice from real estate professionals-this is just my list. You will need to do some research on the concerns above. You can read more of it here but I really suggest doing your own research as new information comes up on these issues on almost a daily basis.
Do the research, form your opinions and discuss it with your family. What are your goals for the home in the next 5 years? In the next 10? To me, a few of the items above are critical so I need to be prepared to talk about it with my family.
Do you have other suggestions? Please help a guy out in finding that home he can really set roots in.

Finding a website name and getting a site up under $50

I have been going back and forth on what to name the blog, as I get closer to doing an actual website. Just some quick notes on researching key words, setting up the site and trying to make it easy to find on searches. I plan to run the site under a $50 a year budget.

 

I have been going back and forth on what to name the blog, as I get closer to doing an actual website. Just some quick notes on researching key words, setting up the site and trying to make it easy to find on searches. I plan to run the site under a $50 a year budget.

Godaddy domain name = $35 for 2 years
hosting = approx $10 per year

resources:
www.godaddy.com
www.bubweb.com

Vlog 16.08.31 – What we are looking for in a house

 

A quick rundown on what we are looking for in a house. The goal is to find a home that can fit my plans for a resilient lifestyle. We are not looking for a house in a good school district with good comps for neighbors (at least I am not)
3bed 2 bath typically
not a bighouse, approx 1200 sf (low maintenance)
big yard(1/4 acre0
multiple road access (required)
no HOA (requirement)
garage + car port for hail protection (required)

ideally out of city limits (preferred)
brick exterior (preferred)
2 story (preferred)
no flood zone
easy to insulate (preferred)
good solar orientation (preferred)
fireplace (preferred)
buy something that looks poor so we can improve it (Dad’s list)
no pool, burden to property taxes (Dad’s list)
low property tax (requirement)
proximity to good developments, but not in it (preferred)