Sunday, January 31, 2010

losing my footing

I have some sad news. I just got off the phone with the sellers of the cabin. They aren't interested in any option but buying the cabin outright, as is. They do not want a rent-to-own situation and they don't want to invest in winterizing it either. Honestly, I don't think they want the place to leave the family yet. It's understandable, but heartbreaking. Sadly, their decision makes it impossible for me to buy it since no bank will approve a mortgage on it since it's not a full-year home and therefore would not pass an USDA/FHA-required home inspection. So it's a catch-22. Neither the banks or the owners want to bend even though I'm willing to become a contortionist to make it work. I tried explaining to them options like they hold the mortgage and me buying within a five year bubble. That this meant I would be the owner, and pay the taxes and upkeep and they just get a deal in writing that I will get it up to code and buy it in a few years. I also explained that I could winterize it this summer, saving them the cost and they'd still be getting checks in the mail. They just aren't biting.

There's a slim chance that they'll consider a mortgage holding proposal if I come up with a lawyer and the contract for their consideration, but even then, who has 600 bucks to hire a lawyer for a shot in the dark? I think I lost my footing on the Foothold. Which is emotionally devastating since I'd been secretly banking on it working out. It was my parachute in this foggy mess of finding a home. For a while there I had myself fooled that everything was going to work out and that was going to be home. I was already sketching out garden plans and talking to neighbors about renting pasture next door....

Maybe it just wasn't meant to be. I don't know. But New York State just started looking a lot better. That house I looked into today would be a perfect place to turn into Jenna Woginrich: Small Farmer. Maybe the sellers of that place will come down to my price range if the checks in their hands? Like I said, I really don't know anymore.

I'm back to square one, again.


Blogger Bri said...

keep your chin up! that sucks I was really rooting for this small place to work out. but it's not over just yet, and you'll find a place to be. Maybe it'll just take a different form than you expect.
my hopes are with you. :)

January 31, 2010 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

Hang in there! That stinks about Foothold but there is still plenty of time for the right situation to come along.It isn't over until the fat lady sings and I haven't even begun to hum. ;^)

January 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger nancmcp said...

Sorry for your disappointment, Jenna. I was hoping for the Foothold too. It's hard to just keep moving forward some days. A pause to regroup is OK. Part of why I love your blog is you don't just share all the shiny stuff...

January 31, 2010 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Hi Jenna: What a disappointment. But like people are advising you it's not over 'til the fat lady sings. Time to regroup and to research - check out alternative housing placed on bare land - rules regulations etc etc for yurts, strawbale construction, pit houses etc. If you consider the old farmhouse in ny state check it out very carefully - is it truly completely restored or rebuilt or is there a hidden fault or two just waiting to happen?
As for Foothold or other homes like it - nothing is worse than having neither time nor money to do work without which you are at best inconvenienced and at worst put under a lot of stress - been there done that and this weekend my pipes are frozen for the third time this winter.
Relax and regroup and research - something is bound to come up; and keep looking in your neck of the woods - there are places there and you wil find one. Meanwhile keep digging yourself out of the debt hole as quickly as you can.
Good luck!

January 31, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...


this is not over yet! you have a realtor, if he she is not showing you what you need, get another realtor! their are more than just 2 places out there! keep looking!

January 31, 2010 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger j.c. said...

Would the Foothold people rent to you? Not rent to own, but rent? That would buy you some time to find the perfect place for you and the animals.

January 31, 2010 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Ms. Brenda said...

Sorry you can't get the cabin right now. The NY farm sounds promising. $40,000 extra would be about $240 more a month on mortgage. Could you rent a room? You could charge lots more than that. Here's hoping they might take a lower bid, cause you don't want to move your farm any more times then you have to, and this would be a place to grow into. But not unless the location and price work for you. Best wishes. Brenda

January 31, 2010 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...


have you checked out ?

i have no idea how it workes in the states, but in Canada, if you list your house for sale with a realtor, your house has to go onto . i just checked for the states and i saw small farms for sale in the S/W vermont area, but have no idea what towns are around Sandgate so cannot search further. SO, check out !

January 31, 2010 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Have you ever considered or pictured having a renter in a larger place to help you cover the cost of the mortage payment?

Also, if you're really thinking of settling somewhere for good, maybe the bigger place is the better option. You have BIG dreams, Jenna. You don't want to outgrow a place too soon, as quaint and perfect as it seems for you NOW. And you don't want to have to start the search process all over again for another place because you've outgrown one you'll fall in love with.

Someone made this recommendation to me, though it was about buying a harp: They told me to not just settle for the smaller one because I could easily afford it and transport it and play it now, but to think about how I was going to grow musically by having a larger instrument. I took that advice and never regretted it. It was a (scary as hell) financial stretch, but I'm still loving The Big Girl and the way I keep growing musically because I have her.

Farms and harps may not correlate exactly, but the dream is the same. And you deserve all the best in making you dream come true.

January 31, 2010 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Tony Colella said...


Now you are no longer stuck on the wrong one. You can move on to the right one. Fear not that you don't know where that property may yet be. This will all come together so long as you keep placing one foot in front of the other. Trust me on this Jenna.

I made my living building my rental properties. I cannot tell you how many times I did all the leg work and have the deal fall apart just before the closing because the seller dropped the ball or I got outbid somehow. One thing I learned is that real estate is a business of emotional highs and lows.

A few lucky souls catch only the high notes but I have never met their luck. The rest of us go through the heatbreaks and generally things do work out for the better.

When I hit the emotional low I remind myself (and now you) that the emotional high is coming soon.

Life is a balance.

Tony (formerly in) Asheville

January 31, 2010 at 5:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hang in there! Something will work out, just keep looking. Like anyone who has shopped for real estate, you have to look, look, look. It may be a blessing that they don't want to sell other than outright. It is a summer cabin, and it would be hard & expensive to get it winter-ready. So perhaps it wasn't meant to be. The place in NY sounds great and I don't think 6 acres is too much (okay, I'm from SD where 6 acres is small, so my perception is skewed), but you have to be comfortable with the price and taxes. And keep in mind that if you pay considerably more than the current owners, taxes will be refigured & could go way up. Stay steady and keep looking. It will work out.

January 31, 2010 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna, sometimes trying to put a square peg into a round hole just doesn't work. You went out of your way to try to get that cabin, but you know what? It has too many downsides if you ask me. Winterizing is one big headache. Also, it doesn't have the space you need. Renting from the neighbor? I don't like that idea either. Back into the renting one way or another..means you have lost control...and more chance for heartache and having to move animals after you get settled. Get the place you need with the room you need. I love the idea of a roommate to help with the bigger place. may meet a guy and things just work out. With your great heart I'm surprised somebody hasn't snatched you up...but my wife and I didn't meet each other and marry until we were 30 years old. We are celebrating 20 years this sometimes things happen on their own terms. We both could have jumped into something earlier just so as not to be alone, but it wouldn't have been right. You will meet a like-minded guy and everything will turn out okay. Hang in there.


January 31, 2010 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Irma said...

Oh sweetie...I am heartbroken for you over The Cabin... but maybe New York is the right fit.

Trusting the universe to point you in the right direction!

January 31, 2010 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger IanH said...

Jenna, I have been watching your situation for a while and am really sorry that this has not worked out for you. I understand the need for doing things on your own, but have you ever asked God for help and guidance on this issue? I can personally witness that if asked, He quite often is willing to help.

January 31, 2010 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Hi Jenna,
I thought the cabin didn't have enough acreage, but hesitated to say so. I think you would have outgrown it too quickly. Moving a few animals is one thing, but having to sell the cabin and buy a bigger farm would have been a headache waiting for you.

I agree with those above who say that your realtor hasn't shown you much. Talk to her. If she still doesn't get going, find another who will work for you.

Best wishes.

January 31, 2010 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

It sucks, especially since you are so willing figure how to make the situation work and have such an affinity for the property. I'm firm in my belief that you will find another place - this farm in NY seem promising - and will find yourself on steady legs soon. You don't live life passively, you actively make it - I am sure you will negotiate your way into a farm.

January 31, 2010 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger The Craigs said...

Jenna, if fifty other people have not already sent this link to you from "The Baaa-Studs," please enjoy, and remember that brighter days are coming. (And yes, "brighter" does allude to the link...)

January 31, 2010 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger TnTConnect said...

Jenna: This is easier said than done, but...patience is a virtue (one I don't posses). The cabin property does not sound quite right, but maybe with a bit more searching, you will find a place close to where you are that will be perfect for you. I will put you on my prayer list. Good Luck!

January 31, 2010 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger Celia said...

I will just repeat what everybody else has already said....but hang in there. I feel the disappointment that you must be feeling. But things really will work out.....which I know is hard to believe when you have had a kick in the stomach....but keep believing!

January 31, 2010 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Georgia said...

I know just *exactly* how you feel. We're going to meet with yet another bank tomorrow to see if we can get pre-approved to make an offer on the only house in our town (a real house- not a mobile home or falling-in shack) that's within our price range and has enough land for our chickens, garden, blueberry bushes and an angora bunny or two.

We're worried that, yet again, we're getting our hopes up only to be disappointed. But we keep telling ourselves that nothing has worked out because the RIGHT house hasn't opened up yet.

I'm sure that's what it is for you too, Jenna, and when the right place does turn up, you'll see why nothing else worked out. Maybe it's this place in NY, maybe not. But it's out there. Keep the faith!

January 31, 2010 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I'm sorry, but did ya really want to move that far from your family though? and I hate mortgages, we live in a 5th-wheel camper, comes with furniture and appliances including a washer/dryer combo.

January 31, 2010 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Sorry that the cabin didn't work out (yet). Hope it comes together for you. The idea of the bigger house (growing into it with a renter) could be a very realistic option.

January 31, 2010 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

You'll find the perfect place. I'm sure there is one out there that you can afford and everything works out for the finances. Keep your spirits up and know that we are all sending you good energies that it all works out.

January 31, 2010 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

So sorry to hear about the cabin! (I've been lurking for a while, finally decided to post.) I too dream of owning a place someday, but I think I'm going to have to move out of LA before I can manage it (not the only reason I want to move out of LA, but it definitely contributes).

January 31, 2010 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Roy said...

Jenna, I know you will come up with a solution. Maybe you could take in a couple of boarders in the bigger house. Or grow your own hay or a cash crop or rent out an acre or two.

January 31, 2010 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger admin said...

Have you checked Craigslist?

Maybe you could buy or rent land &
buy a vintage camper.

Here is a house & 3 acres for
$30k--but it is in Tennessee, not
sure if you'd want to move here.

Here is 15 acres for $23k: <--with $5000 down &
a 30 yr loan, monthly payments
would be $110.

January 31, 2010 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Mare said...

Jenna, looking for a place, falling in love with it and having it be yanked away is all part of it...Usually the reason is not known but it is usually for the best, believe me...Looking for a home (or a dream) is an emotional roller coaster. Take a deep breath, call it a night and get a good sleep and wake up tomorrow and go get em! The right place for you won't be that much of a struggle...It will happen.

January 31, 2010 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Chicky said...

What about the possibility of a piece of bare land that you can put a temporary trailer while you build or look into alternate building, such as suggested by Janet? Not ideal, but another option. Praying for you that everything works out!

January 31, 2010 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger HotFlashHomestead said...

God obviously hasn't shown you what he as in mind for you yet, but its on its way into your life, I would bet. And who knows what kind of headache that cabin might have been. Wonder what the owners will end up doing with it, it certainly sounds like it needs a lot of work and IMO they blew it in turning down a buyer so willing to put her own sweat equity into making improvements! A lot of people think their properties are a lot more valuable/desirable than they actually are on the general market, lol. It's their loss. You WILL come out on top, I just know it.

January 31, 2010 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Attorneys do pro bono (free) work all the time without. Call the Vermont State Bar and get names of attorneys who could help you write a proposal/contract on a pro bono basis. It's just too bad you're on such a tight time frame to find a new home. You will find the right home. All your dreams will come true.

January 31, 2010 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger deborahwolfe said...

I have been through a LOT in my life. Usually, if something is meant to happen, it happens with comfort and ease. Anytime we have to try SO hard, it's usually a big signal from 'the powers that be' that this ain't it. View it as cosmic protection. Clearly, there's something even better down the pipeline.

January 31, 2010 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Foothold is just is not a good deal. There's a ton of work to do and it's a tiny place you would have outgrown shortly anyhow. The fact that the people are making such difficulties makes it all the less desirable.

I say make the folks in NY a lowball offer. It sounds like the perfect place to me, aside from the 40 minute commute. Which I wouldn't do now at age 50, but I would have done at your age without a care. Moreover, 6 acres is not that huge, my dear. With six acres, you have enough land for rotational grazing for a few sheep and goats, and maybe a little bit for growing your own hay and corn.

Otherwise, wait a month and see what else comes along. There's always another place on the market.

January 31, 2010 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger lovethelakeshore. said...

I have been reading your plight and fight for a farm to call your own. Have you ever considered person to person loans? I bet there are a lot of us that would bet on you!. Just another option to throw out there.

January 31, 2010 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm with Christina and the land idea. At least you would have your homestead site and could start setting some roots. Get one of those barn-like 2-story yard barns and you'd have hay storage and a shelter for your hoofstock without having to invest too much to house them. You'd be able to build your cabin in time, but at least you'd have your permanent homesite.

I'm praying for everything to work out for you. I'll be cheering for you! :)

January 31, 2010 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Single Serving Jack said...

Maybe you could look into a renovation loan. The bank pays out the cost of renovation and then rolls it into the final mortgage. I know Wells Fargo does this type of loan in most states. It may require some "skin in the game" from you in the form of paying for an initial inspection and appraisal, getting estimates from contractors, and lots of patience. It tends to take a while, if extensive work needs to be done, to get a certificate of occupancy, so a contingent housing arrangement may be needed while renovating, but it could help you get your Foothold.

January 31, 2010 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger CountryCouture said...

Hey Sweetie :) Just thought I'd pose a question that I've been thinking about for some time...

Why don't you cross the Mason-Dixon line and join us southerners? Land is cheap, the weather is mild so you can grow things year-round, and you don't have to worry about insulating a cabin. You can get a nice house on 20 acres outside of my home city of Baton Rouge between 90K-140K.

If you're up for an adventure, we'd love to have you down south :)

February 1, 2010 at 12:16 AM  
Blogger nancmcp said...

This is the best community - I learn so much from reading the posts!

February 1, 2010 at 1:04 AM  
Blogger Rene said...

I know your current situation has given you a sense of urgency but remember that you're looking for the love of your life. Make sure it's what you want before you make such a big commitment. Your mortgage will last longer than the average marriage. A very lovely scottish woman gave me some great advice when I was buying my wedding gown. She told me that if I was looking at the dress and thought I could make it work if I changed the sleeves and removed a bow etc. that it wasn't the right dress. When I did find the right dress the only thing they did was hem it. Don't get discouraged if you find a lot of "wrong" places before you find the right one.

February 1, 2010 at 2:47 AM  
Blogger Gwen said...

So sorry to hear the news. I'm a new follower and fan of your blog. New York State sounds beautiful, my fingers crossed that something there works out.

February 1, 2010 at 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna. So sorry.
Have you checked out the USDA site for loan programs for new farmers?
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides direct and guaranteed loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial credit sources.
May be worth a quick read. :)

February 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Lorna said...

Hi Jenna. I don't comment often, but thought I'd throw in my two cents this time. . . My husband and I had a quick move from MN to TX a few years back-buying a house in one weekend! We looked at 40 houses in two days and picked one. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't just right either. To top things off, we needed to sell it a year later (not in the original plan) to move overseas. Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish I had listened to my instincts and rented for a half year or year before buying, taking our time to look instead of rushing in.

If you have offers to rent and/or house your animals while renting, perhaps that would be a wise choice? Give yourself the gift of a little extra time to find something that will really work for you, be it land to build on or a home already built.

We plan to move back in a year or two, and I hope I have the patience to do as much! I too want a small farm (5 acres and freedom, baby!). It's just so hard to wait sometimes.

February 1, 2010 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Sarah Sanders said...

Jenna, my heart aches for you. I keep thinking about you and your search - I keep trusting that it's all going to work out for you - and it'll be even better than you'd hoped for! Keep putting one foot in front of the other, Girl - don't give up the faith! We're all rooting for you!

February 1, 2010 at 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diana is right. I too have found that if something is *meant* to be it happens basically without effort, or very minimal. No emotional wringing, no endless frustrations, no other issues. If you keep getting shut out, it's because it's not right for you.

Sending a prayer out into the ether that your Right Place comes at the right moment.

February 1, 2010 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Jenna, So many people here have great ideas for you--and most of all they just want everything to be good for you. There is some good advice here. I don't live in Vermont but just be sure that the zoning or building codes are compatible with what you want to do vis-a-vis putting in something temporary in order to fix up Foothold or on a bare piece of land (if you find something you like). Also, a lot of banks are (especially now) unlikely to go for some of the more unconventional building ideas such as yurts, straw bale or other types of housing (which are wonderful) but hard to say if they'd agree to those--again because I don't know how rigid Vermont is about that. Where I live they are really strict. But, I'm on the fence about whether you should really work hard to make Foothold work out or take the view that if it's meant to be, it would be comfortable and easy. I've had experiences both ways. Normally, I seem to be one that has to climb the highest mountain or swim the deep blue sea to get what I want, but you know what, often I do get what I want. And, I've had things come easy to me, so I won't advise either way. The hardest thing is you have such a short timeline to make this happen. I'm thinking of you and praying for the best of all possible outcomes for you. Mimi

February 1, 2010 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

I presume you've been hunting on

Found one potential...?

February 1, 2010 at 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna,
There is no reason to hire a lawyer unless they accept your basic proposal in writting. First question first, do you have a good idea about what it would take to winterize the property. If it is not too much time and money maybe you could get the sellers to allow you to do it prior to bank inspections (while you have the property under contract). If that will not work out but you still want to make this happen discuss specific mortgage terms with them interest rate, amortization term, and offer something like a 1 year ballon. This would mean you would have to refiance it within the 1 year timeframe so you need to be absolutely sure you are fiancable and the property would pass muster with the bank at that time. You also might see if your local small town bankers hold any of their own loans. If so you might find one willing to work with a larger loan that includes money to do the winterization and they would escrow the funds until the winterization is done. Just a bunch of random ideas but maybe of help.

February 1, 2010 at 6:33 PM  

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