The Story of How We Bought Our Farm…

Buying Our Farm

This post has been in the works for about 9 months…so here it goes…it’s like giving birth to our farm buying story…

When we moved to Moscow, Idaho in 2011, things were not looking good for us.  We had been through a financial rough patch and we had to do a short sale on our home in Coeur d’Alene.  In fact, if the house did not sell by September of that year, then we would have gone into foreclosure.  In August, the house sold through a short sale.  From what I am told, a short sale is not as bad as a foreclosure but it certainly is not a shining star on your credit report.  

Once we moved to Moscow and got settled in, Denise went to a local Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class.  This was an excellent class and we highly recommend it if you are looking for help to get back on track with your finances.  We were determined to learn our lesson and not let that happen again and wanted to get more financially sound.  It took 3 years but we paid off all our debt and have been living debt free ever since.  At the Financial Peace University, we met the mortgage broker that we are using now.
At the beginning of 2016, we had a small scare when we were told that the owner of the house we were renting might want to sell the property and we would have to move that summer.  I guess we just assumed we would be living there until we were ready to purchase our farm…totally forgot that someone else owned the property and might have different plans for the rental house.  This got us thinking about starting to look.  (Luckily, he decided NOT to sell the property and we continued to live there as we set things in motion to look for property.)

The summer of 2016, we got pre-approved for our mortgage loan and started looking for properties.  It seems that about 1 house a month would come up for sale that fit our criteria.  The main criteria was at least 3 bedroom, 5-10 acres and located within 5 miles of Moscow.  Henry also wanted a tub sink and a home with a basement and 2 car garage.  We set out to look at homes that might fit these criteria.  Right away at the first place, we loved the house but the land was too hilly for putting up chicken coops and rotational paddocks.  A couple of the homes that we looked at after that were very old (over 100 years!) and needed LOTS of TLC.  The one place in particular had a beautiful 6 acre level  pasture that would be perfect but the house was too small.  One house we looked at was very nice and had level property but out of our price range.  By this time, it was November and there were not a lot of properties coming onto the market.  We were told that things would pick up again next spring…

On November 7th, Denise attended the retirement party for Cinda Williams.  It was a Monday and the boys had Special Olympics bowling practice.  So, Henry took the boys so I could go to the retirement party.  Cinda was the Sustainable Ag Coordinator through the University of Idaho Extension.  I had met her at several small farms meetings and she helped to coordinate the Beginning Farmer class that I took last year.  At the retirement party, Collete DePhelps (Associate in Community Food Systems & Small Farms through U of I Extension), came up to me and said that she knew of 30 acres that was going to be put into a land trust to be farmed.  She explained that there was 10 acres beside the 30 acres.  The 10 acres was going to be divided into 10 – 1 acres housing plots.  So, the person that manages the 30 acres would have one of the housing plots for a home site.  This sounded interesting but 30 acres also seemed like a lot of land.  She said she would have more details after Thursday that week. 
It just happens that the next Wednesday, there was a Rural Roots meeting.  Collette introduced me to some people at the Palouse Land Trust.  The Palouse Land Trust was going to be in charge of the 30 acres that was to be farmed.  When I met them, they mentioned that there was also a separate house on about 5 acres that would be for sale.  This sounded much more interesting to me because 1) we would not have to build a house and 2) the land size is smaller and more what we could manage.  
Nick, with the Palouse Land Trust, said he would contact me and the owner to set up a meeting.  Then, I waited to hear from him.  It seemed to take forever but finally we had arranged a meeting for December 8th.  It seems that the Executor of the estate lives in Montana and would be passing through the area at that time.  So, I went out at 7:30 in the morning to meet them at the house.  I met the Executor and she showed me around the house.  I left my minivan at the end of the driveway.  There was snow and I had bad tires and didn’t want to get stuck (I have since gotten studded snow tires).  Her parents built the house and then actually lived down in the basement portion for 10 years while they finished the upper level.  So, the house is kind of like a house on top of a house.  There is a kitchen, dining area, living area, and 3 bedrooms on each level.  The house seemed huge to me because it is about twice as big as the house we currently rent.  There is also a 2 car garage and a HUGE root cellar.  I was so happy about the root cellar.  There is a wrap around deck on the top level and a patio on the front of the house and a screened porch and patio on the back of the house.  Also, there are 2 barns.  One is in kind of poor shape but the other has a lovely corral.

The next week, I was at the Rural Roots meeting and the President of our group came up to me and said, “I hear you are interested in buying the Montgomery place.”  I was shocked because I had not really told anybody that we were even looking at it!  Come to find out that she is best friends with the Executor of the estate had talked with her the night before we met at the property the week before.  So, she put in a good word for us!

There is actually another house out there on another 5 acres.  The Executor’s sister and brother-in-law live in the other house.  The 2 properties share a driveway.  I really wanted Henry and the boys to see the property.  Executor said that her brother-in-law, could let us in and she gave us his phone number.  So, on December 26th, we headed out to the property.  Henry seemed to like it and we took a good look at the barns and garage.  (There is a tub sink so Henry was happy).  
In January, my mother-in-law came out to visit for Mark’s birthday.  We went out and brother-in-law showed us around the house again.  Then, I asked if they might consider selling the house to us.  He said I needed to talk to Executor.  I emailed her and we set up a time to talk on Saturday, January 21.  She seemed to think that we could get this worked out to sell to us and was going to talk to the estate attorney.  One small problem is that there was to be an estate sale on January 29 but due to all the snow, the auction house could not get their truck down to load the items.  Then, at the last minute, they got everything loaded up so the sale progressed as planned.  We were in the process of trying to get our taxes done so we could get our financing set up so it seemed that we were both working to make this sale happen.

Early February – Had to redo the pre-approval for the mortgage with our new income taxes completed.  Got approved for our home loan.

Read a book about making hard cider (there is an old apple orchard on the property!)…trees need a lot of TLC…

Waiting…

March 11 – we got a draft sale and purchase agreement with a potential April 28th closing date!

Mark attack…(see blog post from May 7 if you do not know what this means…)

Told rental company for our current house that we are going to buy a house and that we do not want to renew our lease!

Bought a table for our new house!

March 24 – got Purchase and Sale Agreement signed and escrow check to lawyer!

March 28 – Call from Executor saying that the probate was being challenged…not sure what this means for us buying the house.  Met with Estate Lawyer that is handling the probate.  He said that one of the Heirs is asking for the house to be re-appraised (we had offered to purchase the house at the appraised value).  The original appraisal was about 18 months “old”.  So, it was decided to do another appraisal…

Waiting…Denise spent most of this week crying…it seems we were losing our dream farm…we already told the rental company we were moving so if this deal falls through, we will mostly likely have to pack up and move to another rental…yuck!!!

Denise started taking St. John’s Wort for mood health…

March and April have been challenging months for the Wetzel’s with the possibility of losing our future farm and Mark’s aggressive behaviors…

Waiting…

Praying to St. Rita, Saint of the Impossible…click picture to read about her.  Interesting story of her as a baby and bees…

Waiting…

April 27 – appraisal is complete.  Price went up A LOT, but still within our budget.  Henry and I made a new offer on the property.

April 30 – call from Estate Lawyer.  One of the Heirs hired a Lawyer to continue to challenge the probate and a court date of June 5th has been set.  Increased our offer (again).  We are now at the maximum that we can get for a home loan (this makes us very nervous).   Estate Lawyer is going to present it to the Heirs Lawyer.

May 7 – our dog got sprayed by a skunk and our rental house smells like skunk…always thought this would be something to happen on the farm…not here in town..LOL

May 15 – Lawyers have met and talked…expecting a call any day to hear if our offer will be accepted…

Waiting nervously…

May 24 – FINALLY GOT A CALL SAYING THAT THEY HAVE ACCEPTED OUR OFFER and withdrawn the challenge against the probate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 2 – Signed lease agreement and addendum to Purchase and Sale Agreement.  We can move in June 23rd.  Closing set for July 14th!

June 7 – Hired an inspector to look over house.  He suggested we have the septic scoped and get more information about the well.  This is the first time since January that we have been back to see the house!  Lots of work is needed on house with some random maintenance needed.  The grass has not been taken care of at all and it is up to my chest.  Makes it a little hard to walk around the property.

June 10 – Purchased Polaris Ranger from friend (Thanks Dennis!) and moved to garage at new house.

While Henry was busy unloading Ranger and trailer, Mark and I were inside having some lunch.  Mark kept repeatedly saying, “Move, move, move…”.  This was completely unprompted.  I had not said anything about moving.  I was too hungry and busy eating my lunch.  Of course, the minute I get my phone out to record it, he clams up…

June 12 – Had septic line scoped, looks good.  Minor root growth at places where joints meet.

June 14 – Had someone come and work on well…it’s good!  Some sediment build up in pipes…will have to address this at some point.

June 23 – Moving Day!  Thanks to our friends for spending the ENTIRE day helping us move.  It actually took us a complete week to get everything moved over…we have WAY too much stuff..

June 27 – Appraisal for our mortgage.

June 28 – Appraiser said that the County Assessors Office has our house still listed on the original 55 acres!  Call Estate Lawyer…he said that it has been surveyed but not split and will take care of it.

June 29 – Mortgage company asking for documentation.

June 30 – Frantically cleaned rental house!

July 6 – Title company asking for documentation.

July 10 – Estate lawyer still working on trying to get the property “split”!  Makes us a little nervous…

July 13 – I send an email to our mortgage broker asking…”Is this still happening?” in regards to the closing.  Our closing is supposed to be at 8:30AM on Friday, July 14th but I still had not heard if this surveying split thing happened…

July 14 – Henry and I went out for breakfast (it is Henry’s birthday today!).  We were so lucky that Henry’s mom was out for a visit and stayed with the boys.  After breakfast, we headed to the Title office…not sure if we were even going to be signing papers but, I am happy to report that they had all the cd’s, aka, closing documents, and we signed our lives away.

Happy Birthday Henry to 30 years of mortgage payments!!!

First Birthday celebrated on the farm.

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