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Old 12-30-2011, 04:15 PM   #1
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Real estate over the next few years

Was wondering what your thoughts were on the outlook for real estate in the US over the next few to several years, in particular for houses with 5-30 acres on the outskirts of small to medium size towns.

Outside of any major SHTF scenarios, IMHO I think that they will continue to decline another 10-20% within the next 2-5 years (and I would not be completely surprised if it is even more than that).

What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:29 PM   #2
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Perhaps, in the American Redoubt areas, RE will be very stable, with the land you describe being perfect homesteading land, presuming a source of water, some good timber and arable land. I happen to be looking for just such a bit of dirt for the Ancona clan and some very, very close friends of a similar mindset. we are nine total, and want enough land to have clear and measureable separation. ideally, I am within earshot, but out of sight. Perhaps on "the other side" of a small lake on the property.

Well, we can all dream, can't we?

Our budget isn't quite there yet, as we wish to buy it outright. We had 120k in mind. We are similarly prepared to live in mobile homes while we fell logs for a true cabin. I figure we have another two years before we have cash to buy the land, and cash to survive until we get settled in and become "locals". We think this can be done in five or six years, as long as we frequent the local church and participate in local events.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:32 PM   #3
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As a foreigner, I´m probably the anti-expert on US real estate, but I can add three things to the conversation:
- From experience a bottom in RE prices after the burst of a bubble takes about 5 years. US prices topped in 2006/07. From that point of view the bottom shouldn´t be too far.
- agricultural properties arround the world are in a bull market. The Kansas City FED is already concerned about this market.
- The gold/medium house price ratio seems to be close to a bottom with some space to the downside:
Quote :
How many Ounces of Gold does it take to buy the
Average U.S. House?
My conclusion from this rudimental thoughts:
Relative to stocks and bonds real estate looks attractive.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:55 PM   #4
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Great thread, Unobtanium!

First, I am no expert (not even close) on real estate. So keep that in mind...

1) I think that "SHTF kinds of places" (like DCFusor owns) will be one of the few pieces of real estate that goes up. Places "that have it all" (water, tillable land, trees). DCF himself said that even in his rural county that there are relatively few places of rural land that meets these requirements. So, THOSE properties could become MUCH more valuable! Re the American Redoubt, maybe.

2) Commercial real estate, no thanks. In a rotten economy, it is one of the worst investments, and you have to pay taxes on it! And tenant risks (no tenants, bad tenants).

3) Midwest farmland, NO! In a big bubble (I think swissaustrian made a reference to that above).

4) Condos and suburban real estate, I doubt that most will work out well. Too many houses owned by the banks. More foreclosures likely coming...

5) "20 acres on the edge of a small town", may be OK, especially if you have some of the advantages as DCFusor does. SMALL town. Land near a medium sized town seems like it would perform similarly to suburban land.

Hey, just my !
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Old 12-30-2011, 05:24 PM   #5
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I just went to pay my taxes. My assessments are going up now. But - I think that's due to other than the actual sale value of the land - government is desperate. Surely, land I paid 17k for just 1.5 years ago - mostly vertical, doesn't perk - can't be worth 37k already?

Ancona, your price target wouldn't have been too far off a few years ago for around here, some neigbors, transplants from the city did just as you describe, got one huge piece and divvied it up for about that money. They got nice spacing out, so they can't see each others houses, and have some land they decided to just make shared - the creek bottom - good for gardens etc.

Land here is creeping up - not as much as my assessments, which I'll challenge and win. It never went crazy in the boom, so didn't have much to fall after, all that just kinda blew by without much effect either way. The trick is to start looking and making connections as soon as you can, because it might be a case of "wait for someone in this 20 sq miles to die, and buy it off their kids before they divvie it up and try to get more at auction". Buying it all as pieces and putting it back together is much more expensive (know this from hard experience).

I'm 16 miles from the town of Floyd, which is basically one intersection and built up about 5 blocks worth out from the one stoplight. That's about right. Whole county has about 20k people in it, also about right.

Right on the edge of town, and in town, land here is like anywhere - too doggone expensive. The pieces get bigger and cheaper as you get farther away, at least around here. And it doesn't matter that much that you are a bit farther away anyway, the roads are twisty enough that the difference between car drives and crow flies is always a large number - and being farther away crow-flies need not mean farther away car-drives, plenty of examples of this around here.

I wouldn't touch midwest farmland myself. Too flat! No place to hide, not enough variation in the ecosystem, maybe no water other than a well. And - too close (car drives) to what is usually mis-identified as "civilization" - but which is better characterized by the movie above.

Of course, I happen to really like this particular set of mountains - nice old stuff, not rocky, just right, mostly not too steep (WVA is bad that way), totally covered with life, healthy. It's quite a long chain, so you can kind of choose your weather, I just happened to land here in a sweet spot.
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Old 12-30-2011, 06:29 PM   #6
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Great inputs, thanks to all!

I think during this round we are going to dip below the previous low of 110 gold/house price ratio, and perhaps by an appreciable amount.

I am still seeing some really attractive prices some of the rural areas of some of the southeastern states for houses with barns, streams, with both pasture/farm land and woods. I am quite blown away by some of these prices, especially compared to current prices for housing prices in some of the non-depressed larger metropolis areas.

And while there are some agricultural properties in a bull market, for various reasons (death of the elderly owner, economic pressures, etc) there are some smaller (5-50 acres) agriculture-capable properties with house and land that are still bearish right now.

I am seeing decent land in the 1-3k/acre range quite often, and some of the more premier rural land at 5k+/acre. The 1-3k/acre is of course quite a deal when compared to a suburban 0.5 acre lot that goes for 50k in a suburban metropolis area.

Just outside of some of the medium sized rural towns (30-50k) that did experience some of the housing bubble building boom, I am also seeing some attractive prices for newer custom-built brick houses, with land, for $70-$90/sq.ft.; and the prices are still falling on these types of properties. I am still seeing "price reduced" on lots of these properties, some of which have been on the market for a year or so, and have been marked down by several- to many-10's of $k during their time on the market. Again this is quite attractive by comparison to the metropolis housing prices where I live now, WITHOUT appreciable acreage, of $100-125/sq.ft. (with a peak of $150+/sq.ft. 2-3 years ago). So the key here would be to wait it out a little longer until it hits a true bottom.

The disadvantage to living on the outskirts of the medium sized rural towns is that during a SHTF scenario, you still have to deal with a contingent of hordes, albeit a smaller contingent. The advantage is that it provides more opportunities for supplemental income via whatever services that one might have to provide.

I think that, as with gold, many of these types of properties are still a very good value, and in the next 5-20 years will be in ever-increasing demand.

Personally my wifelet isn't up to a VERY rural life, and my best chance would be relocating to the outskirts of a medium-size town. That way, we have the best compromise between both ends of the spectrum. She is on board with prepping and sees the handwriting on the wall, but in our case it was country boy meets city girl! If I was single (which I don't want to be) I would be aiming for something more along the lines of what Ancona describes in the 2nd post of this thread (go Ancona!).
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Old 12-30-2011, 06:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
I just went to pay my taxes. My assessments are going up now. But - I think that's due to other than the actual sale value of the land - government is desperate. Surely, land I paid 17k for just 1.5 years ago - mostly vertical, doesn't perk - can't be worth 37k already?
Ouch!, yes that does sound like a desperate govvy.

Quote :
The trick is to start looking and making connections as soon as you can
Yes this is both the trick, and it is also the challenge when you don't live near the area. The areas in which we are eventually looking to buy land distant from where we currently live. When the time comes to relocate, I figure what we will likely do first is rent there for up to a year so that we can do just that.

Quote :
I'm 16 miles from the town of Floyd, which is basically one intersection and built up about 5 blocks worth out from the one stoplight. That's about right. Whole county has about 20k people in it, also about right.
My wife and I were in Floyd for a friend's wedding a couple years back. Nice, quaint enjoyable town. There were some nice wineries in the area too. It was also quite an artsy town that one would not expect in rural country. Too bad we were not there for Floydfest! The wedding was at a winery and the views of the surrounding land from the somewhat-elevated winery were just beautiful.
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Old 12-30-2011, 06:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Unobtanium View Post:
Was wondering what your thoughts were on the outlook for real estate in the US over the next few to several years, in particular for houses with 5-30 acres on the outskirts of small to medium size towns. ...
Check with your State's property tax laws. IIRC, in Texas, agricultural exemptions require at least 10 acres of land (that might be changing).

I am also keeping an eye on undeveloped land in the 10-30 acre range. My wife won't entertain moving outright from our current abode, so I'm looking to get a "recreation" property and develop it while keeping our current home. My dream is to build an off-grid, monolithic poured concrete, earth sheltered home with solar and possibly wind turbine power generators, a greenhouse / aquaponic garden and my own water well.

My FIL has 100+ acres in central Texas (flat farmland area) and has offered to let me build on it, but I can't see doing it without owning clear title to the land. My wife has way too many siblings and a MIL that I would not want to wrangle with over the estate should he kick the bucket. The land has been under duress with the extreme draught Texas has been under for the last couple of years.
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Old 12-30-2011, 07:35 PM   #9
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Wow! Great thread!

I am close to being able to do something on my own, being the most financially capable of my group, and may be willing to settle for something smaller, but it must have potable water either from a locally collected lake or even better, from a spring, and it must be at least 35% wooded with other than scrub.

We are a solid group of fairly hardy souls, who are willing to rough it if need be to some extent to make our lives what we want them to be. Here in Florida, there are two pieces of property I am currently looking at. One is near the Lake Wales Ridge, one of the highest areas in the state, but the soil will need enriching to be tillable, and the other is near Mount Dora, which is an enormous oak hammock to the north and west of me. This area is more suitable to my purposes, yet not quite what I want. I hope to generate enough scratch this next year to convince my compatriots that this may be our next best choice, given it's sub-tropical locale and has decent soil. Either way, thirty acres is a nice bit of land, and water can be had in Florida nearly anywhere with as drill rig. Most wells are artesian to at least ten pounds, so a water tank can be used for pressure. The rest, we'll learn as we go along.

Money isn't the issue, it's proximity to the jobs we all have and the cost of commuting. The three women would have to relocate with the mindset that they will either devote themselves to the homestead, or get a local job and work part time at the homestead. Myself? I can do 90% of my work on-line and only show up for meetings. Scott? He's in the same boat. Josh? He isn't really fully employed in any particular industry, but he is an energetic man, loyal as a found dog you just gave a steak, and wicked smart. The rest of it.......I figure the rest of it sorts itself out.
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
My dream is to build an off-grid, monolithic poured concrete, earth sheltered home with solar and possibly wind turbine power generators, a greenhouse / aquaponic garden and my own water well.
Thought so !

When you take your first step towards your dream , it takes its first step towards you. Lao Russell ( wife of Walter Russell )

I once read a book called how to be happy and one of the messages I took from it was that by simply stating your dream to others you create a positive feedback loop that inexorably propels you in the desired direction.

Thought I would give it a try so I started telling people I was going to do a self build. Within 2 years it was happening ! Still astonished at it all.

Just stating your dream here is a bloody good start and I wish everyone well with finding the right location and of course, the right digger (-:

I have a dream location near me. To buy it outright and pay the capital gains tax I need gold to hit $4.5k ( and the UK£ to buy roughly the same amount of US$ ) as per Alf Fields prediction and without a major dislocation of the property market.

I am sorely tempted to see if I can borrow the half I dont have and take the HUGE gamble that we get major inflation, making the debt easily payable
BUT I am scared of deflation stealing potential earnings or massive interest rates on the loan payments and getting repo'd due to default on payment ............

And yet grabbing it when you can, cos you almost never get a second chance, is a powerful driver too.


In answer to Unob, whats in store for property ?

Reversion to the mean, with overshoot to the underside roughly the same as the overshoot to the upside, with first deflation ( now happening in the world of 'wants') then major inflation to distort the actual $ you need to purchase.

The mean being based on a single wage for 'x' years to buy the average house.

Impossible to predict the actual numbers, the optimal time to buy being as the inflationery effects begin to impact minimum wages and we see them begin to climb, hopefully just ahead of property prices starting to respond to the same inflationery forces.

only my though no guarantees
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Old 12-31-2011, 12:44 AM   #11
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I think this situation might be causing a reset to some extent in how things are valued. Right now, a lot of people are real scared about borrowing (or can't), and this doesn't drive up land, because most people aren't responsible enough to have the cash to not need to borrow. EG, people with cash can now score a real deal, there are some medium desperate sellers around.

I'll go with mean reversion after overshoot as a default though - works for most things most of the time. But I'm thinking (hopefully not rationalizing) that medium rural land is revaluing vs city plots to the good of the rural. Cities are so dirty, dangerous, and uncivilized these days...people are noticing that and leaving, why pay extra to live where you can always find a mugger?
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Old 12-31-2011, 09:23 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
... why pay extra to live where you can always find a mugger?
As Ferfal mentions in his blog re:experiences in Argentina's collapse - because that's where the jobs are. Not sure that we are really seeing urban flight right now.
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Old 12-31-2011, 08:00 PM   #13
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Let me tell you a story, about my own "Bug Out" place I had for about 11 years when I lived in Texas and a few in northern VA. I lived in Houston, where I went to college, and for my first two jobs (before moving to DC to feed at the trough of .gov). Much of this time was during the reign of Jimmy Carter, and there was a little talk about "heading for the hills", etc., but not as much as today. (But, keep in mind that time frame had an Arab oil embargo and inflation, so there WERE issues)

I wound up buying a place in Goliad County, Texas (SW of Victoria, or roughly in the middle of the triangle of Houston, San Antonio and Brownsville). It was a bit over 50 acres and located about 15 miles north of the town of Goliad. It had a one acre pond (artificial dam) that actually had perch in it. I went and bought a prefabricated shack (10' x 12'), as the land had no house. I even had a deer rifle and a .357 magnum stainless steel revolver. So, I figured I was about as ready as I could be without making major changes in my (urban) lifestyle.

The property had some deer, and for a while, I let one of the neighbors graze 5 head of cattle on it, I forget the tiny amount of money I got. One of my neighbors had something in cultivation, at least once in awhile. The realtor who sold me the place told me that in that part of Texas, the "surest" crop (one that would best withstand drought and heat) was milo (sorghum) which is animal feed here in the US, but apparently perfectly edible.

Most of the property had live oaks just growing haphazardly as well as some other scrubby trees as well as just scrub. About 1/4 was open, high weeds.

One day visiting the place, a friend of mine was with me, and we saw a 6' snake. Not poisonous, but my friend HATED snakes, LOL remembering his reaction...

An oil company came by prospecting. After seismic testing (etc.) they drilled on a neighbor's land and hit natural gas. I was entitled to some of the money, not much, but it paid my heating bills for three years in northern VA...

Another day I went with various friends (including my GF at that time). We had decided to cook our food over a campfire. There was a decrepit picnic table, all rotted out, so three of us smashed it to bits and we took the wood over to where the rest were gathered. On the way, I looked down on my arm and there was a Black Widow there!!! I dropped the wood and brushed the thing off onto the ground. I ground it on one of the boards, saw that it was pregnant with Little Bitchez, so I tossed the plank into the pond for a little extra insurance that none would live to visit again. I then asked my friends if they knew if you could feel getting bitten by one. One of then said: "Well, I don't know for sure, but I imagine you would because they're REAL poisonous." One of the girls back at the campsite was a nurse so I asked her the same. She said: "Well, I don't know for sure, but I imagine you would because they're REAL poisonous". Thanks, Paula. (Lots of Texans talk like that) Turns out that I DID get bitten, I spent a really lousy 24 hours in a Houston hospital, but that's another story...

So, I moved to northern VA and wound up selling the place after a few years up there for about the same price I bought it for.

So now, I have no land. I live in a condo and am 55 years old. And I just have to hope that TPTB don't screw everything up!
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Old 12-31-2011, 10:45 PM   #14
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FIL has a barn on his property that I mentioned earlier. When my wife was a pre-teen, he used to give her a hammer and a flashlight and tell her to go in the barn and smash all the Black Widow spiders. lol. In the last couple of years though, fire ants have killed off the spider population.
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:22 AM   #15
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Land anywhere near a large city should become very cheap because of no one wanting it due to various factors, mostly concerning SHTF scenarios. Just because it is cheap, of course, does not mean that it is a good buy.

For proof of that, look at Detroit - 60,000 vacant abandoned buildings that the city can't afford to condemn and tear down. Detroit is so poor that they are unable to pay their power bills. The power company has repossessed the power poles, turned off the street lights, and has removed most of the city's street light power infrastructure. The residents either go without street lights (up goes the crime) or contract privately with the power company for local street lights.

Personally, I think land for the near term should have the following characteristics:

1) arable
2) year round water
3) remote
4) surrounded by impassable mountains, preferably with only one way in and out (defensible)
5) reasonable temperatures (no 50 below stuff)
6) 300 miles from nearest large metropolitan area of 1mill or more
7) low population, like under 1000 in a 25 mile radius

Unfortunately, there are not many places left in the U.S. that fit that configuration any more.

Looking 10-15 years down the road, most land with water should be a good investment regardless of where it is. Main thing is to accumulate lots of dry powder so that when land near the cities becomes literally dirt cheap that one can buy for pennies on the dollar and wait. I would not want to live on that land - too dangerous near the cities - but over time would probably be one of the best long term land investments.
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Old 01-01-2012, 02:42 PM   #16
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Ah yes, snakes and spiders - we've got them here. No one dies or gets sick. You learn how to work with nature instead of bulling your way around not paying attention!

For a 150lb being to be frightened of one weighing a gram...seems a little silly.
Man up! And don't jiggle them unnecessarily. They seem to think they own the place, they don't do that deed and title business.

Funny story. For awhile here we had roving Jehovah's witnesses coming around all the time. I don't need the cure for Catholicism, but I humor them, having had the training to know the book better than most of them anyway - I can have some gentle fun. (they're nice to a fault).

So, one day a group of them are on the front porch with us, sitting under a small cherry tree that shades the platform. They're going on and on about their peculiar vision of heaven (on earth, later, for most, only a few of their Illuminati go to the one in the sky in their view).

So, I'm playing devil's advocate on that and telling them my own view derived from you know, actually reading the book for content rather than to back up a sermon, which comes out a little weird compared to say, most churches, and we're going back and forth with that. They are stressing all this "lion laying down with the lamb" kind of stuff - how harmonious it will all be after the end, after all the dead come back to life - on earth (crowded?).

My take is that's what we're supposed to be making happen NOW. And to the extent I can, I do - and it works. This entire conversation took place under about the hugest hornet nest I've ever seen - a few footballs in volume, with them coming and going unnoticed by the Witnesses till I pointed it out to them as part of my point - whereupon they scattered in fear. O ye of little faith.

No one was ever stung by any of those hornets while they lived there. It's an attitude thing. No one poked it with a stick or put their hand in there either - live and let live. A little awareness of your surroundings goes a long way. You can get stung by crushing one inside a door handle you put your hand in without looking/feeling for something there. They only sting if you give them no choice.

So, yeah, if you assume that a title means you really have godlike powers of a chunk of land and what's living there already - that's a bit too vain to pull off easily. It only gives you power over other humans, in that system, not total power.

Better to work with it, than assume utter ability to disrupt it. Country people all grow up knowing this kind of thing.

Nature wants to work with you, or it seems like that. We had a patch of really nice red raspberries on our land, in a bad place to get to for picking. So we dug a few up, and planted them closer to the house. They bore OK for awhile, but it wasn't as good a place for raspberries (too hot/sunny) so that patch kinda got marginal. But somehow - little patches started springing up in places that were both good for them, and easy to get to for us, and spread enough that they don't all ripen at the same time any more. Yeah, I know how the science works out for that happening, but it turns out that a lot of things work out like that - for whatever reason. We're supposed to be stewards of nature, not dictators. The former is work - but nature responds nicely. The latter takes too much force, and nature is truly bigger than you and will come back to bite your nether reasons if you're not paying enough attention.

I'm not sure how having foxes and ducks on the same land, within 1/4 mile of each other works out - but it does.

So yeah - if you create an ideal habitat for nasty spiders, why would you not expect it to fill up with nasty spiders? What made you god - where your vision was the only possible one? Obviously you weren't even smart enough to realize that's what you were doing!

And yes, there aren't many places left that fit all the criteria mmerlinn proposes above. Some of those specs can be loosened up, depending on terrain and how cool the locals are. Don't forget - ideal land in a community of losers isn't ideal at all.

You can tolerate more population if they're good people, and pockets of them do exist. The don't advertise much - realizing that would only draw the losers they've escaped from back in.

I think #6 is too exclusive, there are just too many 1 mill cities now - and too much of the rest of the big pieces of land locked up in other ways. But I'd stay away from poor ones (Detroit) or likely nuke targets. I like the mountains as a barrier as that reduces the other restrictions a lot, you can be almost next to a decent city and it just doesn't intrude on you.

The trick is to be where it's too expensive to develop into dense suburbia even if a place becomes popular, which is what the mountains give you.
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:29 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Unobtanium View Post:
Personally my wifelet isn't up to a VERY rural life, and my best chance would be relocating to the outskirts of a medium-size town. That way, we have the best compromise between both ends of the spectrum. She is starting to geton board with prepping and is starting to sees the handwriting on the wall, but in our case it was country boy meets city girl!
bolded and inserted to fit my situation

Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
I am also keeping an eye on undeveloped land in the 10-30 acre range. My wife won't entertain moving outright from our current abode, so I'm looking to get a "recreation" property and develop it while keeping our current home. My dream is to build an off-grid, Hemp-cretemonolithic poured concrete, earth sheltered home with solar and possibly wind turbine power generators, a greenhouse / aquaponic garden and my own water well.
.
also bolded and inserted to fit me . I wasn't too sure what the earth sheltered home was, but after a quick google search, i am quite interested.

My ideal place is in Tennesse between nashville and chattanooga, right around the base of monteagle mountain. I've been looking for land around that area for a little bit now, and prices are pretty decent most that i've seen are around 1-2k/acre. Just gotta get the wife fully on board, and get some funds saved up to purchase it outright.

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Old 01-02-2012, 10:57 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by oppie2005 View Post:
... I wasn't too sure what the earth sheltered home was, ...
Discussed here: http://www.pmbug.com/forum/f6/earth-...red-homes-106/

There is a builder here in Texas that specializes in the monolithically poured concrete style.
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:32 AM   #19
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I am going to bet that we make news lows before the actual bottom is in for real estate. I think it's pretty obvious that MOST of the decline is done though.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:07 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by dereksatkinson View Post:
I am going to bet that we make news lows before the actual bottom is in for real estate. I think it's pretty obvious that MOST of the decline is done though.
Way to true Derek.

It is an axiom here in Florida that the bubble has not deflated yet. We're experiencing overshoot in some areas, and severe undershoot in others. In the southern market, aroung Palm Beach/Ft. Lauderdale, the condo dwelers are still clinging to 2006 price schemes. I too, believe we're far from a bottom, and when it does bottom out, after he European collapse [inevitable in my eyes] it will onlu get significantly worse.
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