View Full Version : Buying a property

12-03-2002, 12:04 PM
Some of you remember my housing woes. Well, I've been looking at a property.

It's two acres, heavily wooded with some old white pines and some mixed hardwoods. It has a double-wide mobile home on it built in 1990.

It also has a steel building on a slab, 24 by 36.

The mobile home was obviously the YUGO of the era. I got a book value of 15 K from the bank, and this one's a little beat to boot.

I'm really miserable where I am, but I don't want to do something rash just to get out of here. On the other hand, that steel building, and it's only a half mile from deep water, and the lot is nice in a woodsy way.

The wild card is this mobile home. It's got two by walls and pitched roof, but you can tell it was a tawdry affair from the get go. I guess what I'm asking...oh hell, I don't know what I'm asking, but any feed back would be read and appreciated.

What, for example, is the steel building worth?


[ 12-03-2002, 01:18 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

12-03-2002, 12:11 PM
Go for it. Upgrade when you can.


John Bell
12-03-2002, 12:14 PM
I wouldn't assign much value to a 12 year mobile home, especially one that's poorly maintained. The valuable thing's the land and the permanent building. Act accordingly.

12-03-2002, 12:16 PM
I hesitate to post, because I'm not a big fan of trailers, but here goes anyway.

I like Donn's idea and here is a link that was sent to me that me and the wife have been looking at.


Seems that these folks are up in Canada and sell (I hesitate to say this) kit homes. The reason I hesitate is after looking over the kit opitions I'm convinced that this is a great deal. The exterior walls are 2x6 and they use TJI floor joist and engineered roof trusses. All this at a fraction of what it cost to build.



12-03-2002, 12:22 PM
Hi Ish
I do not know your tastes or social class. I'll identifie myself as a farmer lower middle or working class.
How much is the property? as Norm said you can upgrade latter. you can change the house you rarely can change or add to the property.
how will the payments fit with your cash flow. what are the taxes?
In utah their is a agricultural exemption in that when you build farm building on property over 5 acres in green belt area that you do not have to get a building permit and this to me is valuable.
I think that if you can aford the pmts then the place sounds like a very neat ddeal.

12-03-2002, 12:30 PM
Thanks to all so far.

They are asking 63K. Looking at comparable building lots, the lot is worth around 20 (though it's really hard to compare, because most won't allow mobiles, etc). Generously figure another ten for septic and well. I've gotta think the steel building is worth at least five. So by my figuring the place is worth around fifty-ish.

So what do I offer?

Scott Rosen
12-03-2002, 12:35 PM
Is this place what you really want? Is it the best you can find?

I didn't realize you were looking to buy property. If you are, then you should take your time, figure out exactly where and what you want, scope out the market, and then start looking at properties.

If your primary reason for buying this place is to bail out of a bad situation, then you may want to consider renting someplace else until you have a better handle on the local real estate market.

I would think that in your part of the country, it would be pretty easy to find lots of properties that are within a half-mile from deep water, with a permanent structure that could be used as a shop. Also, consider the local roads and the driveway if you plan to have trucks carrying boats to your shop.

Good luck.

Scott Rosen
12-03-2002, 12:37 PM
If they're asking 63 and you want to pay 50, then you should offer something between 40 and 45. But that will also depend on the market. If the market is hot, then people may be paying the offering price. You gotta do a litle homework.

12-03-2002, 12:45 PM
Yes, all the factors.

Scott, I've been here just about a year, and I've looked at properties to buy, and I've had a devil of a time finding places for me and Sheba to rent. I've lived in motels, and sublets, and now I got a houseshare that ain't working out so good, na, not so good. I'M SICK OF IT!

So...I have perused the market. And the market has been pretty warm here, though not the same as much of the country, and it's cooling.

How much is having a place of your own worth? smile.gif

G. Schollmeier
12-03-2002, 01:27 PM
The dwelling seems to be incidental to the property. Add up the cost of the steel building, driveway, well and septic, and what it cost to run power in. 15-20K would be about average in my area for well and septic. Be sure the well and septic are inspected. Add that to the price of unimproved land. This should give you a fair value.

Owning a place to live gives you a stake in the community. So be sure itís one you want to be a part of.

Gary :D

Joe (SoCal)
12-03-2002, 01:46 PM
OK as you all know I got myself into a mess with a big house and shrinking business. But don't let your current bad situation push you into a worse situation with a 30 year mortgage on a draining property. I get the gut feeling the property is a bad choice. The assess value and the price your considering if off especially if you add the cost of any additional construction permits and then ensuing taxes. I did a quick look on the Internet for property in your area and came up with this

Distance To: Blue Hill 5 miles
Bangor 35 miles
Boston 4 hours
....*Located on a private year round gravel road off Route 15 in Sedgwick.
Utilities & Water:
....*Electric and phone lines are at the property.
Drilled wells and septic are the common way to go
in this area.
About the Land:
....The property is located in the small coastal town
of Sedgwick. Less than 5 miles from Blue Hill village. Ravens Woods is an 11 parcel wooded subdivision. Although close to all amenities, protective
covenants insure, privacy and peace of mind. With the protective property line setbacks, you would not see another house. The land is surveyed, soil tested for septic, and title insurable. This is a great opportunity to purchase one or more of these properties at this low price with future retirement in mind.
....*The yearly real estate taxes are less the $350 a lot.
....*$29,500 - $45,000 With owner financing 20%. Down 10% simple interest for up to 10 years.

$30K for land is not bad and I'm sure you could get the bank to finance you a hell of a lot more to construct a proper home than you could for a broken down existing trailer. Other options in the 50 - 60K option should be a nice condo or co-op with kindness for animals and it would be a better investment.

12-03-2002, 02:22 PM
Joe, comparing Sedgwick to areas around Bangor is an apples to oranges kind of comparison. Its 71 miles to Bangor, by the way. There's not a lot of work to be found around there, either.

Sedgwick would be a spiffy town to build boats in and WoodenBoat is only a few miles away.

I will share a little secret with you. Find a 'local' bank if one exists in your location and set up a checking account and a savings account. Nearly every bank will ask: "Are you a customer of ours?" before they will hand over a mortgage application. Sometimes it is the difference between getting the application, at all. Then, get your mortgage there.

As to whether or not to buy a property, I thought you were in seminary and Bangor was a sojourn. Properties are a little like the stock market: If your horizon is short term, you stand a much greater chance of losing money.

Eric Sea Frog
12-03-2002, 03:16 PM

That would be the greatest deal if you just liked house building as much as boat building.
You'd get the temporary housing to live in while you'd build the house of your dreams.
Otherwise, you'd need doing some more inquiries into the local market.
Why, I realize that would be the perfect deal for me, as I'm not interested in boats or houses I haven't built myself!
My two € cents.


Gary Bergman
12-03-2002, 03:32 PM
Jewish lightning hits the trailer. Build a nice crib . They are fun to build. Thought I wuz done building mine, and then I built one for one of my kids!...Go for it, ya only live once. You can lock them up( the house, not the kids) and go sailing. We do.

[ 12-03-2002, 04:33 PM: Message edited by: Gary Bergman ]

Memphis Mike
12-03-2002, 05:08 PM
Location! Location! Location! That may
sound silly Jack but it's not. My
understanding is that property in Maine
has skyrocketed. If the double wide is not
in that good of shape and you intend to
stay there for awhile, you can live in the
double wide while building a nice house
on another area of the property but we're
not talking anything short term here.
Ask yourself, is this where I'll be ten
years from now? Not... is this where I want to
be ten years from now. There's a difference.

Memphis Mike
12-03-2002, 06:07 PM
Hey Jack! Is the river navigable outa
Bangor into Penobscot Bay? How big a boat
can you get down the river and how far
are you located from the water?

Jim H
12-03-2002, 06:14 PM
Originally posted by ishmael:
Thanks to all so far.

(though it's really hard to compare, because most won't allow mobiles, etc).I would make sure that local ordainances would grandfather that trailer, if you bought the property. An old worn out trailer should actually detract from the property value. Are property values going up or down in that locality? Can the real estate office provide you with a list of similar properties? If you decided to move 5 years from now would you be able to get your money back out of the property? Do you really want to live in the frozen north?!? ;) Just a couple of things to ponder...

Bruce Taylor
12-03-2002, 07:20 PM
Ask yourself, is this where I'll be ten
years from now? Not... is this where I want to
be ten years from now. There's a differenceDamn good question!

Jack, if you're thinking moving on in a few years, then you'd better buy with an easy sale in mind. OTOH, if you think you might settle in for a bit and do some welding, build some boats, start a profitable cult, then this place might be just the thing.

You're an old carpenter...is the building worth improving, or is this disposable housing?

Gary Bergman
12-03-2002, 07:22 PM
Aw,don't sweat it. It's the old 'if it feels good,do it'. My house lives where the cold will peel the cetol off, and my boat goes where the varnish peels off in the heat. Life is totally adjustable. Wow,slammin......

12-03-2002, 08:31 PM
Thanks for all the good feed back and focused questions.

As to whether this place is worthy of some sprucing up, I need to talk to someone who knows how they are built. It looks to me like two by four throughout, and I don't know the specs. Apparently they are regulated by HUD rather than local codes, but try and find that information on the HUD site!

Mike, the mighty Penobscot is deep water all the way to Bangor. In fact, Bangor owes its existence to being the head of navigable water. It is where the log drives ended and the ships carrying the logs and lumber from Maine's northland to the rest of the world loaded. I've seen photographs of the river, in Bangor's heyday, where you could walk from bank to bank on the decks of ships.

This place is half-way between Bangor and the river's mouth, and about half a mile east of the river. That location really fits many bills. It's about a fifteen minute commute into the big city, and about 25 to Penobscot bay and sailing. I could keep a boat at the Orrington town landing, just down the road.

Anyhoo, thanks again. Oh and Bruce, ya know any? Profitable cults that is, looking to franchise?



[ 12-03-2002, 09:40 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

Ross Faneuf
12-03-2002, 10:06 PM
First thing to do, if you're serious, is to hire an inspector to give the place a look and give you an estimated value. This will catch any real bad problems, and give you an idea of value. You will find them in the Yellow pages under (probably) 'Home & Build Inspection Services'. EMail me privately for entries from my phone book.

I can say that here in Lincolnville (40 minutes from you) a very small bungalow on 1 acre with no steel building is slightly more expensive.

2x construction is standard with mobes. A more serious issue is the wiring; this one should be late enough to have no aluminum wiring, but that would be something to find out definitely.

BTW my minister is, for the moment, in a double wide which is really quite attractive (new); from the inside it's hard to tell.

ken mcclure
12-04-2002, 07:48 AM
Hmm. There's the actual value of the property as it stands. Then there's the estimate of the future value based upon trends in the area.

Then there's the value of the property to you.

If you plan to stay awhile, you don't need to consider current value as strongly. What you should be careful of is to avoid getting yourself into a situation where you may have to accept a huge loss if you were forced to sell.

Figure that what you are paying in rent is lost money. If you spend $6,000 per year in rent, you could overpay on the property $6,000 per year you're there and still break even.

Now. Take a look at what you plan to do with the property. Figure what the value of the property would be when that's done, and compare that to what you will pay plus the cost of improvements.

A steel building that size should be able to be built for around $10,000 according to a couple of my sources.

Sounds like you like the property. Find a number that you're comfortable waretand go for it. It's only money.

Matt J.
12-04-2002, 08:38 AM
Building costs, even up in Maine (oh, how I wish I were moving there) are about $75-120 per square foot. Less with sweat equity and fewer average niceties, and more with no sweat equity and luxuries. You could build a shell for about $40/SF if you're willing to allow someone else to do bring it under cover and you do all the finishing. So $40/SF for shell plus materials for the finishing.

The tax assessor's office in Maine ought to have real property information, including what was paid, the assessed value (not the real value by any measure), perhaps the regulatory agencies who issued permits would have some specs on the house, lot, well, septic, etc... configurations if you ask the right person.

If you're real serious, it's the permit people you need to talk to. Well, the best would be an engineer or land surveyor ;) with experience in the locality (they all should have some, but some will know their stuff, others won't) - but they'll charge you for their time if it sounds like you'll take too much. The permits folks can tell you about the use and occupancy permits on the trailer, demolition permits for same, costs of permitting new construction or remodeling the steel structure for residential uses. They may also know contractors or engineers who will assist you.

I hear folks in Maine are nice people. Around here you'd be hassled to death at the permit counter :mad: , but up there I feel like it'd be different (hear me sighing, longingly?).

Good luck and take your time - it can be fun through all the effort. I don't think it's really about gut feelings when you're going to be vesting yourself in a community, real property, and ownership of buildings of questionable value or utility. Nonetheless, you've gotta be comfortable both in your pocket and in your heart with your home -that is where the home is, after all.

Rebuilding can be simpler in some ways, but like boat restoration, it also complicates things.

Have fun. It's an adventure I think the Jenster and I will be on soon enough, and for better or worse.

Memphis Mike
12-04-2002, 10:54 AM
It sounds like a really desirable area.

Alan D. Hyde
12-04-2002, 12:08 PM
There may be better deals; there may not be.

Do what it takes to satisfy yourself that you're not getting burnt. Unlike Ross, I'd NEVER hire an inspector. If you're a competent carpenter, educate yourself on wiring or roofing or septic and do it yourself. The state will do a water test for you if you provide them with a sample.

If the area's good, and the deal's OK, then go for it. You can make up to $250,000 gain on the sale of real estate which has been your principal residence for two out of the last five years, wholly federal income tax free. Even if you only are there for a year, you can pro-rate the exemption (e.g., $125,000 tax-free gain).

This can be an attractive way for a handy guy to get back on his feet again. Especially if you enjoy swinging a hammer.

So if it's good, by all means do it. But don't let your present unhappy housing situation skew your perception so badly that you make a poor deal. I think, having some knowledge of rural Maine, that at $60,000, it would be fairly hard to make a bad deal, barring any unique and unfavorable circumstances.


12-04-2002, 04:42 PM
Alan, Since this ain't a political topic, I will give you my two cents worth. I do not agree with you regarding your opinion for not hiring a competent home inspector. In these parts of New England the Mortgage lenders now require a report signed by an inspector known by the bank. If Ish has cash and will not mortgage, even more important to have that inspection.

Two of my kids purchased homes within the last 18 months. My children asked me to attend the inspections. In one case, the inspector thanked me for pointing out a few items he overlooked but for the most part, he found deficiencies that were not on my 6 page list. Seller corrected problems before closing. In the second situation, my daughter fell in love with a restored country house with all kinds of charm. She was overlooking the leaky roof, water in the cellar, overloaded circuits, poor septic design, etc. and when told by the inspector that it would take $40,000 to repair, she backed out of the P&A.

Ish, real estate over here in New Hampshire is beginning to drop in price as demand has weakened due to job layoffs and I am sure you will find a similar situation in Bangor. Remember that a $100,000 property in your area will sell for $260,000 near the coast(WB Campus)

Good Luck,

12-06-2002, 11:13 AM
My two cents.Check with the local or municipal building dept.The trailer may have been located under a building permit in which case they would have records.May even turn up a set of construction specs.,foundation details and septic info along with any problems.Was an occupancy permit required and if so was one issued?Up here we keep this info as public domain.
Trailers here are constructed to a CSA standard which is referenced in the National Building Code.Older trailers were pretty lightly framed,some with 2x2 studs,etc.The newer ones come close to the NBC standards for residential housing.
A bit of investigation is in order.
Good luck;Earl

Alan D. Hyde
12-06-2002, 03:13 PM
abe, I didn't say no one should ever have an inspector.

I did say I would never have an inspector.

Obviously, some people, perhaps the majority of people nowdays, NEED an inspector.

I just didn't think Jack was, given his experience, necessarily in that category. If he pays $500 bucks for an inspection on a $60,000 trailer, he's paying almost ONE PERCENT of the purchase price for what?

If he knows about all the systems except, say, the propane furnace, then he can perhaps get a free furnace inspection, or pay a furnace guy from some local company $20 or $50 off the clock after hours to check it out for him.

I can't understand why any normal individual would want to spend a year or two or more in a structure they don't understand. Get some good books. Read. Learn. None of this is rocket science (or engineering).

Are we to become a nation of educated fools? Perhaps we already are?


[ 12-09-2002, 12:00 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

ken mcclure
12-06-2002, 04:16 PM
You presume much, Alan, when you say that the nation is "educated."