Buyer realtor with non-local approach? Or, What's my problem?

JamieFebruary 26, 2011

Have you ever heard of a realtor who helps you with a nationwide search? I visit historic property websites, and hobby farm websites. They are helpful, but I'm thinking a personal nudge/opportunity to talk would help me figure out where and what we want to buy for a retirement life. I guess I need a well-traveled insightful person to put on his social worker/psychiatrist hat and listen and talk to me.

We've been forced move and relocate near work for so long, and have been away from home for so long, and I can't seem to reconnect with any "old dreams" or settle on any new ones. All we really know is that

1. we don't need or want to be in the high RE tax areas where work is plentiful,

2. that we have a budget,

3. that we like nice houses,

4. we don't want to hear traffic in the bedroom when the window is open, or in the yard

5. must have a place to grow things

6. can't handle the heat in most of the south, but there may be places at high altitude where the summer is less intense?

7. don't want to locate in a place that is strictly recreational or for second homes or in a "created" community like a Del Webb.

8. Ok house to get elderly on a limited budget in: not super-high maintenance such as 2-story windows or complicated landscaping would be.

I've been trying to figure this out for 5 years. We've taken road trips, and I check all the websites all the time, but I think I need to find some kind of organizing priniciple in myself to guide this search, and I can't find it.

The link below is a property that, but for the lack of a fireplace, is something that I *thought* would be ideal. (Close to the beatiful Lake Michigan beaches, close enough to Chicagoland where I'm from, some land, probably not loud, 4 seasons, paved road, low taxes)

Because I'm not jumping all over it, even though we just listed our current home, I've begun to get really worried about this process.

Here is a link that might be useful: Old and brick and acreage

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It's lovely, but...

That looks like it wouldn't fit your item #8. It would probably be fairly high maintenance considering its age. You also specifically mentioned 2 story windows. This house has 2 stories. You can, of course, hire window washers.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:36PM
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Five acre?
And an overpriced old house...
Lotta work, IMO, but nice..
You are looking for a dream retirement home, ,just looking for any home can be a daunting task.
Much needs to be done...why not move to Costa Rica ?
Modern windows are a better option that window washers @ $50 per hour..

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 1:57PM
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Right now you don't need a Realtor, you are still trying to find out what area to which you want to move, a Realtor helps you locate the best house to meet your criteria in a specific area.
Right now you are considering a large area, much of which is subjective, which is why I find those "best places to retire" list not worth much.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 4:25PM
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#8 is a major concern of mine. My experience with my own house, would make me think twice about another big old house and the maintenance it requires. The heat in the south can be tough to live with but, are you sure you want to live through long cold winters?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 8:15PM
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Before you look at any specific house you need to decide where you want to live.

You'll be better off if you can do research about climates, house price trends, demographics, etc., before you get too keen on a house.

BTW, re your #4: I live on a very large property - a former dairy farm - (surrounded by even larger farms) with a nearly quarter mile long private road, off a dirt in a rural town and still on quiet nights with my window open (as it always is between April and November)I can hear the low noise of an interstate (I-87, between Albany, NY and Montreal) that's more than 20 miles away as the crow flies. And of course during the night I can hear local traffic, such as it is. And I hear aircraft flying overhead and freight trains, as well.

But most people think it's startlingly quiet here.

My point about your requirement is that if traffic noise at night is deal breaker for you, then you need to precisely define what type of noise is unacceptable. I grew up in a part of the world where you didn't hear cars, trains or airplanes routinely, either day or night. It might be hard to find a place that quiet here in the US.

While you're waiting to close on your house, do the research, then go and visit the places that you put on the short list. Visit southern locales in the summer, and northern ones in the depths of winter. And keep in mind that nearly everybody has a nice spring and fall climate.

Then pick the likeliest one and rent a house for a year, while you check out the area. Fortunately the old rule regarding reinvesting capital gains on the sale of houses that required purchase within a set period of time is no longer. Now any gain within the limits is protected whether you use it to buy a new home or not.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:13PM
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You said you can't handle heat, but can you deal with snow (now, and as you get older)? We're on the other side of the state, and we've seen the grass for less than a week since around Thanksgiving. We've had feet of snow for most of this year- and that property is on the other side of the state where they get lake effect snow.

The other thing- are you prepared to drive for 30-45 minutes in snow for medical care for the next 20 years, knowing that your road won't be plowed (or it'll be done by the farmer down the street if he decides he wants to go out)?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Personally I think you are expecting too much for too little. First, I agree, deceide about where you want to live and visit Each area has very good areas and also very bad areas. We moved from So Cal (Los Angeles area) to North Central ND. One of our kids are here along with gd's and greats Yes we have bad winters, but the road are maintained good, medical good, but 30 miles away, small towns are great, if you have realtives, hot summers, some tornados, but we have learned to deal with that. Quiet, execpt during planting and harvesting due to trucks but we never hear them. Small towns are great, but then bigger cities offer more.
Do you belong to any churches? Relatives? Friends? Remember as we grow older we have to depend on someone else or go into an assisted living which this state is loaded with. Taxes? check the state budgets and see how far in the red they are and what they are cutting. ND is one of the few states that is very good, but we do have high taxes. Do consider some of the retirement communities and at least visit them. Many have condos in them, or single homes and you pay for upkeep. Budget? Figure out approx what your retirement will be and the stability of it. Medical--very very important, that is where the larger cities with the teaching hospitals come in at. Dental--vision--driving--insurance. Sounds like alot to check out but we did alot when we first retired but we also had a truck and 5th wheel to stay in.
I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 1:36PM
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Consider Kentucky or TN or Arkansas or VA or WV or NC or SC for your climate needs and for the rest of your bullet list. There are many nice places in those states.

IMO, It gets pretty hot in the midwest in the summer..not sure it is that much different in the summer than much of the south. Maybe more quantity warm days in the south? But some of those hot midwest days above 100 degrees are much warmer than some areas of the south. The south is warmer in spring and fall and doesnt' get as cold in the winter. Look at the weather average temps in all months for any area you are considering and see if it fits your needs.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 3:32PM
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We recently went through thinking about these things and ended up deciding to built our retirement house. We do live in a warm climate. I know I would not 20 years from now want to have to deal with snow and impassable roads in the winter. That would be a deal breaker for me.

Some of the stuff that was important for us in a retirement home was to think about what might happen in later years if we were less mobile or couldn't drive. For some people living right in the city with public transportation works...but we have dogs and wanted unrestricted land. We ended up finally buying an acre of land (with an old house on it that we will demolish). We could have our dogs and it has a semi-rural feel to it and and does not have high traffic right around it.

But -- thinking about future needs -- it is within a few miles of amenities including a couple of hospitals. Thinking of possibly living here during old age when we might be much less mobile this was very important to us.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 8:15PM
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Your problem is you are defining what you want to live in, but not how you want to live. Is there nothing in a lifestyle you wish to pursue to make any particular locations jump out at you? Have you traveled enough to have a feel for what it is like to live in other areas of the country? I've lived in many places and they all have their particular 'feel', speed, tempo, culture, perks and foibles. To me, that would be even more important than what structure I'd wish to reside in.

It just strikes me that at this point, you don't have any particular 'dreams' to look forward to and having fuzzy goals makes it difficult to move toward them.

Make a list of how you want to live first........then when you can get excited about that, move on to where it would be possible, and then move on to what in. Looks like you have a cart blanche right now believe can't look at every prospect in the country. No wonder you seem log jammed.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 10:24PM
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"8. Ok house to get elderly on a limited budget in: not super-high maintenance such as 2-story windows or complicated landscaping would be. "

Then quit looking at historic property websites and hobby farms. I personally love historic homes (and own one on the registry)but they are WAAAAAYYYYYY more upkeep than your standard home. Same goes for farms. The websites may call farming a "hobby", but it can easily turn into a full time job. Both of those housing types are labors of love, with emphasis on the labor part.

calliope is right. You need to figure out what you want to do in retirement and that will help guide you to a location. You might discover that the life you would really like to live doesn't necessarily fit with your bullet points.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 9:33AM
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Lot of mis-conceptions here about rural living ...

I live on a 20 acre farm in a rural community. My rural community is 15 minutes from a quaint town that has grocery stores, drug stores, doctors offices, etc. My rural community is 30 minutes from downtown Buffalo, NY or suburban malls. Hospitals and specialists are within a 30 to 40 minute drive at the longest.

We get lots of snow, you've heard that Buffalo gets snow? ... my rural road is kept well plowed so the milk trucks can get to the dairy farm next door to get the milk out numerous times a day.

4 beautiful seasons even with the snow ...

jamies ... sounds like you might want to buy or build a newer retirement friendly (one floor) home in a rural community like mine. The minimum acreage in my town is 5 acres for any new builds, we want to keep the rural character of our area and we fully support and endorse our farming community.

To find a community like mine, I would think you would need to travel a bit to areas you like or have heard about and see what they are like. Don't rush to buy anything.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:38PM
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Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.

I'm seeing a lot of references to #8.

I think the only way I can do this is to have a 2-phase plan.

I'm not yet ready to live like an 80-year old, and I'd like to get away from "high tax/expensive school system/convenient generica/no sheds allowed/must sprinkle lawn".

I had wanted to make just one more move because the RE commissions and the loss we are taking on our current house are meaningfully large. I fear turning 80 and having to take similar financial hits all over again.

But I don't want to let my next 22 years be ruled by that fear, either.

Oddly enough, I can imagine being truly old and living in an apartment in the city and taking the bus. It's the next phase I can't get my mind around. I'm supposed to have some fun first, right?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:47PM
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EXACTLY!!!! That's why I suggested you start focusing on what you want to do with your retirement years and the rest should fall more easily into place.

If you think you'd like to get a fifth wheel and see the country, then your needs might be considerably different than if you think you'd always like to have a herd of llamas.

I live a rural life in a rural area and I second what the last poster said. I run an agri-business on my land, but have excellent access to a decent hospital. One of the reasons is that our county is a place where the medical needs of six Appalachian counties are met. So we have some first-class specialty units where you'd least expect them.

I do have to drive nearly two hours for 'big-city' culture or shopping in mega-malls, but I'm fine with that. I prefer to buy locally produced foods (or grow and butcher my own) and I am practically a plain living person who has very few consumer needs.

However, the land we own takes an enormous amount of upkeep and I don't know how well that's going to get accomplished as my husband and I age. We also live in a nearly two hundred year old home, and what others have said about historical properties is true. We've been working on this for over a quarter of a century and the work (an expense) is never done.

Perhaps you are not ready for your 'old-age retirement' home yet. I'm not. LOL. If you are just heading into retirement, and you and your partner are in good shape/health, There may be a semi-retirement home first.

I strongly recommend you look at your day-to-day financial budget and plan for it as best you can in these economically dreary days. I am just going into semi-retirement, and my partner retired early a dozen years ago and we are doing OK, BUT I can tell you what was a very generous retirement income then, isn't now. Don't get yourself 'house poor'.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 3:18PM
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kats_meow seem to think your alternatives are to be totally rural out in the country or to be in a crowded noisy city. There are options in between there.

For example right now we live on a little over 2 acres in a semi-rural area. We are about 10 minutes from the grocery store, for example.

We will be building on 1 acre of land that is away from traffic but is situated so that grocery stores, hospitals, shopping are 5 to 10 minutes away.

There are a lot of options out there between the extremes being presented.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 12:46AM
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You and your husband should sit down, separately, with a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns... "Wants" and "Needs". First, do this list for the type of life styles that you picture yourself living in retirement. After you both do this, grab a bottle of wine, and sit down together and compare notes. Discuss the similarites and more importantly, discuss the differences. I bet you will learn a lot from this excercise. Once you two decide on how you want to live your retirement lifestyle and which areas will facilitate this, you then do the same excercise for what you expect out of a house. Again, do it separately.
Right now, you are trying to run before you learn to walk.
Good Luck.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 7:10AM
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I'd buy that house Jamie! It's gorgeous. IF it wasn't in Michigan. Too cold!

I've been through what you're going through because we could move anywhere. First we went to Oklahoma because we were watching the NFR (rodeo) on TV and decided we wanted to be cowboys. Let's put it this way. I kept hitting myself in the face with the rope. Lassoing is harder than it looks. Find a better method than I used, lol.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 10:12PM
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I like your style, Love. I should just pick up and move and try things and have fun. I am so d*mned cramped, economically. Between the 6% realtor hit and the falling home values and the cost of moving my belongings I feel stuck, stuck, stuck -- like I can't make a mistake, I can't have a do-over, I can't experiment.

So I checked out camper vans on line last night, and I brought a broadband dongle for the laptop.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 9:49AM
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