The land for our new home had to be just right. We were living on a cul-de-sac already adjacent to a wooded area. This seemed like the ideal organization. For a given acreage, the front is a little less private, but the back is substantially more private. We currently had 1.67 acres and thought we’d go for twice that — 3 acres. Of course, by the time all was said and done, we had 10.22 acres adjacent to 1000 undeveloped acres that will hopefully never be developed.
To find our land, I started with the real estate listings then available to me as a newly licensed real estate salesperson. Today, much of this information is otherwise freely available on various websites, including Zillow and Craig’s List.
Next, I purchased access to satellite and aerial imagery. You can this for free nowadays, and my favorite place is Google Maps.
Then I put the two together. I found the location of the real estate listings on the map, then zoomed in to the imagery to get an idea of whether or not I liked the general looks of it. Number one, I could determine if the lot was on a cul-de-sac, if it was hilly or flat, if it had adjacent water, how close it was to transportation routes, amenities, etc.
For all the properties that seemed interesting, I plotted them on a large paper printout of the metro city area, jotting down the acreage, price per acre, and total acreage for each. I developed a plot of land values versus location, especially in terms of distance from the city or from the expressway. Indeed, it was obvious that the further away from the big city we were willing to move, the more acreage we could get per dollar spent. But this wasn’t an unbreakable rule. There were exceptions. And the exceptions were the interesting ones. Especially enlightening was that, in the web space between radiating expressways, the price per acreage went down. So it turned out that we were going to be able to afford a place not too terribly far from downtown, just by finding the sweet spot in between expressways. Sure, it took a little more time to get over to the expressway and then in to town. But we have since found spectacularly beautiful cross-country routes that get us where we want to go, in just about the same amount of time.
After identifying numerous candidates, I got in the car by myself and started driving. I found the land that had just been clear cut and looked like it was going to border a shopping center. I found the land in the beautiful rolling hills, where the hills were a bit too steep and provided an excellent view of the expressway — and it’s traffic noise. I found the land that was perfectly located, but seemed to be about an inch above the water table, or was that below? That is, it was mostly swamp land. And then I found the land with the mixed gentle and steep rolling hills, the open hilltop, the beautiful creek with upturned sedimentary rocks producing small cascading waterfalls, and the acre of blooming Mountain Laurel trees, on a cul-de-sac. And when that happened, I called Michelle and said, “I found it.” Several weeks later, it was ours.