At the end of November 2014

Obviously we didn’t get the house I talked about MONTHS ago the last time I updated. That was hard to process. We really really liked that house. But a lot has happened since then. Gosh, where to start. Well, I’ll start with finances, then land, and might save family for a second blog.

Finances. The main reason we didn’t get the house we loved was because we don’t qualify for a traditional mortgage, at all, until March 2016 because of having to shut down our business a year ago and starting again in March 2014. If you’re self-employed, our broker said, you have to have two years of tax returns. So much for that idea.

Then Andrew met someone at church who pointed us toward an agriculture loan (aka ag loan because I’m not typing “agriculture” another 45 times). Aha. Yes. We’d always planned to lightly work our land; have a big garden, and some small livestock, maybe an orchard someday. If we took our plans and efforts up a notch to include cattle, we would open up a while new world of agriculture and farming. Plus, there is a congressionally-mandated effort in the ag industry to extend credit to Young, Beginning, and Small farmers (YBS). Young: under 35. Beginning: Haven’t worked in ag for the last ten years. Small: revenues under $250k per year. We fall into all of those categories. So while the incentives probably vary from lender to lender, what this means to me is that there are going to be less-strict underwriting guidelines that the ag credit firm will use for us.

Here’s a big deal though. Even though they’re looking for YBS farmers, they still have some high standards. Yes, we’d get some phenomenally low interest rates and a lender who’s very interested in making our business successful, but they require a 20-30% down payment. And since the land we want to get is in the $300k range, that’s a lot of cash. We don’t make THAT much money. So after doing a lot of research and connecting with an ag loan officer this past summer, we put the farm idea on hold.

(in the meantime, we hosted Andrew’s brother, his pregnant wife, and their two year old in our house for a month, got them moved out, moved into an apartment, and allowed my in-laws to move into our house when they were able to get out of their home in Michigan and move to Texas. It was a pretty crazy two months; my body finally said I QUIT and I got walking pneumonia as a result of everything I was doing.)

All that stuff was being obedient to God’s direction to give away our house. As I mentioned a while ago, the amount of money we were told we would get back from the IRS (THE GOVERNMENT, YO) was about the value of our house. It was also almost exactly the amount of the down payment. We got a portion of the money back already, and I think we are waiting on the rest of it to come in. So…we basically have the down payment now. 😀

And now, land! We keep an eye on Zillow but also like to go drive around in the area where we’d love to live in order to see what’s there. There’s one property that’s just gorgeous, and we love it, but there are a lot of red flags; the current owners are four siblings, all of whom are in decent health and happily retired, so they’re not motivated to sell. They like their parents’ land and are asking nearly twice the tax assessor’s value. Andrew actually went out and looked at it. There’s a house on the property that’s nearly worthless, but the land is awesome. That seems to be off our prospect list for now.

There’s another piece of land for sale that’s nearly 70 acres and seems like it’d be awesome for us. The list price is a little above the tax assessor’s value, but the seller seems more motivated so I bet we’d be able to negotiate them down.

I’m excited. I have lots more to talk about. Family, the idea of becoming a cow farmer (wtf ME?!), what kind of house our family will live in, etc.

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