Tuesday, February 2, 2010

things are moving fast

I have a meeting with a realtor today to talk about possible offers on the Jackson house. After the cabin fall out, I called a mortgage broker who specialized in USDA rural housing loans in Washington County. We figured out that if we use the Dept. of Agriculture's loan terms, get the seller to kick in closing costs, and get them to come down even a little on their asking price - I could be living in that 6.5 acre farm in Jackson for roughly what I spent here on rent and the car payment. It would be mine. Originally I thought the payments would cripple me, but with this program it's equivalent to what I spend here already. Not to mention the USDA program doesn't require a down payment, so that lets me save more of my money for starting the farm up again...

It's all hypothetical at this point. I'm still looking at other properties and part of me is foolishly worried about leaving Vermont. Jackson is literally two miles from my current cabin, it's not exactly like I'd be moving to Arizona, but even if it is just a line on a map—I'd be leaving a state I love.

However, I'd be leaving it by about seven miles, and finally able to live the life I always dreamed of at a property I can't believe I would be able to afford. All those doubts I shared with you earlier were half truths, said by a hopeful person who never thought she could live on that farm. My heart was set on the cabin because it was in a town I was comfortable with and it was a cabin: two things I love. But that small lot couldn't hold my dreams or even my current animals without renting more land from others, once again making my life dependent on others. This farmhouse in NY is more than enough room for Cold Antler and much more. I could own the land big enough for market lambs and a profitable garden. I'd be part of the most pro-agriculture part of New York. I could finally get my black puppy. I could put a few Scottish Blackface ewes in the pasture. I'd only be an extra twelve minutes away from work, with two coworkers of mine on the same road.

Is this actually happening?

82 Comments:

Blogger Steph said...

Exciting news...as a native 'upstate New Yorker', I want to be sure you know that taxes are crazy expensive compared to VT. Be sure to give yourself some breathing room when it comes to expenses...and most important: follow your gut, buying vs renting makes sense most of the time, but be sure you can live there 10+ years 'cause "the lease" is much tougher to get out of

February 2, 2010 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger CorinneLouise said...

Have faith Jenna, all will fall in place and soon.

February 2, 2010 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Very exciting! I hope it works out as it should.

February 2, 2010 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger j.c. said...

Is there a link to the listing? We'd love to see it!!

February 2, 2010 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I did my homework, taxes are 2100 a year on this property. The cabin, was 1700. the 400 bucks is worth it to me for 6.5 acres.

February 2, 2010 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

in case it is my home, i don't want to make the address public for privacy reasons. But, it's not hard to find online.

February 2, 2010 at 7:28 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

sorry, 2150 not 2100

still, not bad spread over a year. I need to find out how it effects my income tax though....

February 2, 2010 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Like mortage interest, property (county + school) taxes are deductible on Schedule A of your tax return. IOW, these deductions get subtracted off what you earn, lowering your taxable income.

$2150 doesn't sound too bad to me for what you're getting. I live in NY, small house on 1.8 acres and pay $2400. $1400 of that is school taxes.

If two of your coworkers live on the same road, maybe you guys could carpool a couple days a week, saving all of you some money.

February 2, 2010 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Butts said...

Keeping all my parts crossed for ya!! It sounds like a great place!

February 2, 2010 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

I am so excited for you! I will keep my fingers crossed!! I am sure it is beautiful.

February 2, 2010 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Georgia said...

Good for you Jenna! Hoping it works out for you.

February 2, 2010 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Rural Revival said...

Everything will fall into place....I believe it will, it just takes hindsight sometimes to see it but it I believe it always, always does. Good luck.

~Andrea~

February 2, 2010 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Ohhh, keeping my fingers crossed, hard. I hope we get to hear soon; I'm on pins and needles down here!!!

February 2, 2010 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

I'm feeling better about this one than the cabin. I love the idea of the cabin, but with your plans, buying a plot that you already know is not big enough may not be a good answer. As you mentioned, you would be dependent on renting from people who could pull the plug on you at any time for whatever reasons and you'd just have to live with that. And then you'd be stuck with a piece of land and a payment for something that really can't support what you want it to do.... This gives you room to grow and I don't think that is so much acreage. My house sits on over an acre but not quite two, and I think I'd want more for what you want to do. You could do it here, but the extra space gives you room to grow and experiment and have all kinds of agricultural adventures..or just leave it as you own personal 'wild'. No one says you have to do something with all of it right now or ever. Looks like the window just opened after the door shut and it might all come together anyway...

February 2, 2010 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Don't forget about the Home Buyer tax credit $8000.

February 2, 2010 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger j.c. said...

Ah - I didn't think of the listing containing the address. I understand your concern! Thanks for the picture - the house is really adorable. White farmhouses make my heart sing.

Another tip : ask the owners to see their utility bills so you can see for yourself what you are getting into with the 140-year-old farmhouse.

February 2, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I feel like you've done everything you can to make a good decision. I think this will be what you've been looking for. I hope it all goes great for you. Then, we get to enjoy your new milestones as you begin to establish Cold Antler in NY. I'm so impressed with your determination and hard work. You are such a treasure. Mimi

February 2, 2010 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Aydan said...

I'm happy to see things coming together for you! This farm sounds like a big place to have big dreams.

February 2, 2010 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

Best wishes! I'm sure everything will fall into place if it's meant to happen. And if that patch of dirt falls through, there will always be another one. Good luck!

February 2, 2010 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger melinamarie said...

That's great that you found a place that could give you growth. Even better that it will be affordable. Upstate NY is a great place to live and hey you'll still be working in Vermont.

February 2, 2010 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Snyder's Homestead said...

Sorry I didn't get to talk to you last night. Madeline was all kinds of sleepy and wanting mommy. I talked to Zach and have to agree with him. Sounds like a pretty good place. I can talk to you more tonight when I call but just wanted to give you my blessing!!!! Now go get your home!!!

February 2, 2010 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

Crossing my fingers for you.
Can't believe i'm just now discovering your blog...you're inspiring me big time.

February 2, 2010 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Tony C. said...

Jenna,

This is why I was excited that you had finally gone through that dreaded "no." Now things will move much more quickly and the wrong places will get out of your way faster so that you can find the right one.

Hang in there, it will work out.

Tony (formely in) Asheville

February 2, 2010 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

What a lovely place! Fingers crossed, eyes crossed, etcetera, in hopes this all pans out!

February 2, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger j.c. said...

Days on Market:
312 days

This could definitely work in your favor!!

February 2, 2010 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger wendyytb said...

Have been following your story. This looks like a dream come true. Good Luck!

February 2, 2010 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger evergreenknits said...

It's beautiful! I had to laugh, though. I know what you mean about wanting to stay within the magic boundaries of Vermont. I used to feel that way, too, when I lived in New Hampshire (and it was literally across the river from VT).

And then I DID move to Arizona -- just like your nightmare -- and realized just how silly that VT/NH parsing was!

February 2, 2010 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

Proceed cautiously and be aware of what is going on. It's very easy to get swept away by the possibilities of a property and completely miss the practical aspects of a house that old. With that said, I wish you all kinds of good luck.

February 2, 2010 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger E said...

I'm with Becca. Exciting times. Keep calm & level headed, too.

February 2, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

I'm so excited for you Jenna!

If I did my research correctly, Jackson is in the Adirondack Park, which is an awsome place to be. It offers it's residence more protection from factories and big buisness,which keeps both the humans and wildlife safer and healthier. If you get a chance you might want to check out PBS's documentary on it. I spent three years in the Old Forge area and loved every second of it.

F.Y.I. I don't know about Vermont but in N.Y. if the taxes are raised for no aparent reason(which sometimes happens) you can take your claim to grievence and get it lowered. Hopefully another helpful tidbit.

Thanks for the info on the USDA Rural Housing Loans. My husband and I have been trying to figure out how to get out of the burbs and back into the country, but we've only owned our place for four yrs. so we couldn't see how it was going to happen. This may be the answers to our prayers.

Hang in there girl...good things are comming!

Blessings,
Debi

February 2, 2010 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Does the neat old washtub in front come with the house? :)

February 2, 2010 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Yes. It is. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed for good luck! You're moving in the right direction.

February 2, 2010 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Does the State of NY have a homestead exemption for taxes? Here in FL, I get $25k lopped off the top of my home value, and pay tax on the rest...a bargain indeed.

February 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Believe it! It's happening!! So happy for you. Your scary feelings and worry about buying property are normal, but it all works out fine. Now you'll have TWO states to love!! It's a darling little dream house and the property is awesome!!

February 2, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
OpenID twofroghome said...

I'm sending lots of positive energy your way. Isn't property hunting & buying the biggest emotional rollercoaster? Oy...

February 2, 2010 at 10:59 AM  
OpenID giftsofthejourney said...

Whew ... I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Good luck!

February 2, 2010 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Good luck to you, Jenna. I have to say, my taxes here in MD are almost $4,000.00 a year and I only have 3 1/2 acres.
Sending good karma your way!

February 2, 2010 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Good luck, fingers crossed!

February 2, 2010 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Affi'enia said...

Fingers and toes crossed hun. It sounds like a great possibility.

February 2, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

oh Jenna this is exciting! Sending prayers your way that this all falls together for you. The Jackson house is beautiful! I love it. And all that land....how wonderful. Keep us posted!

February 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Is it really that close to the road, or were you standing in the driveway when you took the picture?

Hope everything works out, but don't go too fast! It looks good for it's age though. Nice and square.

February 2, 2010 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hey- did you ever find out why the owners are selling?

By the way, my property taxes are a little over $3K, and I have only a quarter acre! This place sounds like a bargain, tax-wise.

I am hoping for you as well. I am also hoping that it will leave you enough space to save money every month. Putting something aside every month is very important. You wouldn't believe how much piece of mind you can buy with some savings to fall back on!

Good Luck Jenna!

February 2, 2010 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Lil said...

Fingers are crossed, positive energy being sent. Good luck!!! :-)

February 2, 2010 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

Jenna,
I looked up the house online and it does look great. I like all the outbuildings and you could Finn back and didn't it say there was a pond for the geese? My folks had just over 5 acres and they raised six head of cattle each year and had a big truck garden and a chicken house and lots of fruit trees and a grape arbor and there was still room left over. Good luck.

February 2, 2010 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Wow. All I can say is WOW. And I mean it in the best possible way!

February 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Woohoo. This looks like the right move for you. I would cross my fingers for you or something but as a naturalistic materialist I don't believe in that nonsense.

Still, wishing you the best. I think it is happening.

February 2, 2010 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger j.c. said...

Make sure you know for sure about the property taxex. I don't know how it is in New York, but here in Michigan the taxes you pay aren't necessarily what the prior owner paid. Call the city/township and find out what you'd pay as a new buyer.

February 2, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Jenna,

A few things to consider.

1. In NY, you also have to consider school taxes, which your mortgage broker hopefully mentioned already. Property taxes are due in January, and school taxes in September.

2. If you should ever need it, police response is FAR better in rural NY than it is in rural VT. The VSP is not even staffed around the clock, and it often does not respond to burglaries. The NYSP is top notch and responsive and has far greater resources.

3. I own properties in both states, and the taxes are virtually the same. Electricity costs are less in VT. Food is less in NY. Gas is less in VT. You will be spending time in both states, so you can find the bargains.

I'm confident it will all work out for you. Good luck!

Kate

February 2, 2010 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Kerri said...

Yes! Jenna Yes! I did a little dance when I saw your picture. Dream Big Dreams.

February 2, 2010 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Jenna: That house is potentially big enough to house people for retreat/workshops! Another potential source of income! Keep dreaming, but keep your mind on extending the wiggle room between financial commitments and income - more income, less debt is the ratio to go for! And try to set aside an emergency fund too.
Janet

February 2, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

So exciting! I hope it works out - the idea of workshops/borders/retreat space sounds like a fabulous idea. These ladies in Virgina do something similar. http://www.fiberfarm.com/

Good luck!

February 2, 2010 at 12:56 PM  
OpenID eclecticvisions said...

I've been reading your blog for quite some time now and I must say that I am so happy for you that this might work out in your favor. This place sounds like a much better choice for your dreams of land and independence. I hope all works out for you, but if it doesn't just remember that when God shuts one door he opens a window. When it's finally meant to be it will be. Good luck!

February 2, 2010 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Tami SouthStreetShabby.blogspot.com said...

Fingers crossed and good luck! Looks like my kind of house. Another factor in your favor is the tax bonus that I believe has been extended. Heck...you could have a roommate if you had to...you will have room!

February 2, 2010 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Rois said...

I knew the sunshine here was an omen for good things coming! LUCK!

February 2, 2010 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Hi Jenna!

This is so exciting!
Definitely ask to see utility bills (especially heating) to get a good idea on how much you'll end up spending on those.
You should have a friend who knows houses go with you- if its been on the market this long you have to be careful to know WHY.
Bring a flashlight and check EVERYTHING structural that you can to be sure there isn't any rot.

GOOD LUCK!! Can't wait to hear about it!

February 2, 2010 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Sending positive vibes your way! It looks wonderful and I sincerely wish you the best. We were first time home buyers just a few years ago- everyone here has great advice- all questions we wish we had known to ask.
*holding breath for you!*

February 2, 2010 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Sending positive vibes your way! It looks wonderful and I sincerely wish you the best. We were first time home buyers just a few years ago- everyone here has great advice- all questions we wish we had known to ask.
*holding breath for you!*

February 2, 2010 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger pebbledash said...

Fingers and paws crossed, Jenna. Good things come to those who truly know how to count their blessings.

February 2, 2010 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

We bought our place this fall with a USDA loan. It was a great deal. I'm so excited for you!

February 2, 2010 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Lorna Jean said...

I'm sure the loan would require one, but just in case, get an inspection! It's well worth the $$$. Even if there are problems with the house, they may not be so bad as to disqualify it (and it may be a reason to bring down the asking price). And if it is bad, better to find out now.

Good luck!

February 2, 2010 at 1:39 PM  
OpenID Hrist said...

That's what I was going to point out earlier - it's big enough, and set up enough, that it can be a source of income more or less right away from eggs or veggies or whatever, you won't have to do renovations etc. first. And the house looks big enough you could probably even rent out a room, if you don't mind giving up some of your privacy.

February 2, 2010 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I just made my offer!!!

February 2, 2010 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Good for you, Jenna. :)

Good luck, best wishes, life has a way of working this stuff out.

February 2, 2010 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger j.c. said...

Wow, that was fast! Good luck & keep us posted. :)

February 2, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

good luck to you! that would be wonderful! Having grown up on a rural VT dairy, i've got my fingers crossed for you!

February 2, 2010 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Aimee said...

Omigosh, keeping you in my thoughts and my fingers crossed!!

February 2, 2010 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Jocele said...

Good luck to you. I check in every day hoping for some good news for you. I'll all work out just as its meant to.

February 2, 2010 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Trista Hill said...

I am SO excited for you!! That photo alone resonates something special!

February 2, 2010 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

It sounds very encouraging. I love the look of the place, too. At only seven miles away, you won't really have to leave the friends you've made in Vermont.

February 2, 2010 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger MGreenwood said...

It has been such a pleasure reading your story as it unfolds, I wish you all of the best and can't wait to see how it turns out!

February 2, 2010 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Fantastic, Jenna!!! Understanding that it's recently been updated is good news. If it's been on the market for a while it wouldn't worry me too much because this is still a depressed real estate market. So, that might not be a true indicator of any problems with the house, but I imagine the bank will require an inspection. Don't let that rattle you, usually, there aren't dealbreakers, just relatively minor repairs or fixes. I believe the seller has to correct those things. As for taxes, I live in MD and this state is a high tax state--they never met a tax they didn't love! We have our taxes as part of the mortgage payment (in escrow) so we pay a little throughout the year and avoid the big amount all at once. And, all of us have gotten lower tax bills because of the depreciated real estate values here in our region, again, don't know if NY would do that, but thought I'd mention it. Yes, DO contest your tax bill, often they will lower it and the most they can say is no. Lots of people here do it and I have--it works. I am so excited that you've made the offer. I'll be anxiously waiting for the good word saying they accepted. I don't know if NY has this, but I think all states do, there's a three-day period during which you can change your mind, which I know you won't, but I hope they accept the offer right away; we're all goin' crazy waiting to hear!! Mimi

February 2, 2010 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

How exciting! I'm nearly as breathless as if I were waiting to hear myself.

February 2, 2010 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

that's so exciting! my fingers are crossed!

February 2, 2010 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Jenna,
This is awesome. The house is simply beautiful. What a gift to have all of that land with it. No more fussing. You can leave the fence up and graze all year....

February 2, 2010 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Robj98168 said...

LOL Everything works out. Now you can open a bed and breakfast. I reserve my room NOW!

February 2, 2010 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

This is so exciting! I have been thinking about you all day and hoping for the best - good luck!!!

February 2, 2010 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger TCavanaugh said...

Amazing! Hoping it all works out quickly enough for the move to be smooth. :)

February 2, 2010 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

I've been following your story since I read your blog and am awed at what a single girl has been able to do! The farm sounds amazing. I know from owning my own place in the country that it isn't necessarily the mortgage payment that will get you but all of the extra expenses and things that break down and need to be repaired. Have you looked at the cost of home insurance?

February 2, 2010 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger pedro said...

For what it's worth, Arizona is not that bad. And I would buy some of the wool you produce, and perhaps someday any lambs you breed.

February 3, 2010 at 1:27 AM  
Blogger Texan said...

I hope you get your farm. Its a lovely place going by this photo :O).

February 3, 2010 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Aaren said...

As a farmer/homesteader in neighboring Saratoga County who just went from renting to possibly owning a couple days ago myself, I am cheering you on. Dreams like this do come true brave Jenna! If all falls through, there is a job open for Assistant Farm Manager at Green Mountain College in Poultney and you can graze your animals there as a bonus. I was just offered the job but decided not to take it because our landlord agreed to sell us Wing Road Farm at a price we could afford! It may be an option though if you have a bad enough case of barnheart.

February 3, 2010 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

I first heard about your blog/book while reading a magazine at my boyfriend's sister's house. Then I read the book. Now I check the blog almost daily.

All I can think every time I do is that I hope you are proud of yourself and are regularly amazed at the life you have carved out for yourself. I'm not much older than you but you're so young to have gotten your proverbial shit together so well. Kudos and mazel tov on all future plans.

February 3, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

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