Over the years, both Brad and I have been asked how we were able to find such a beautiful piece of land in North West Ontario. Well, let me tell you, even though the opportunity to buy a piece of land kind of dropped in our lap, it didn’t just drop in our lap. Check out the following tips to see how Brad and I optimized our opportunities to get acreage in North West Ontario.
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START THE HUNT….NOW!
You need to get the “next time” mentality out of your head; “next time we are on the 105 we’ll stop down that side road. The next time we are in Vermilion Bay we will check out the property listings.” The “next time” mentality eliminates opportunity. Be an active, relentless hunter.
TELL EVERYONE WHAT YOU WANT
Post what you are looking for on Facebook, not only on your own Facebook page, but on “looking for” pages as well. Many “buy and sell” groups allow you to not only post what you want to sell, but what you are also looking to buy. There are always people that are considering selling their property, and your post may be what motivates them to make the move. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your family to tell their friends and their family. You get my drift. Talk relentlessly about your desires for paradise.
GET YOURSELF A BACKROADS MAP BOOK
You know, the kind that you can buy at every single gas station in Canada from coast to coast? They are GREAT map books that give details of all of the secondary and tertiary roads (you know, the roads that most cabins and acreages are on? Our farm is literally at the end of a road off of a secondary highway.) Better yet, get yourself one of these backroad GPS maps of the backroads and not worry about fiddling around with a big book. With all that being said, Google maps does not work when you get out of range with your smart phone so make sure to have that map. Make a point of going for rides down these roads. PS: make sure your phone is charged, you have extra blankets and bug dope, and snacks. Just sayin’.
LOOK AT BULLETIN BOARDS
Stop in every single small town in the region you are interested in buying in; especially restaurants, grocery stores, post offices, gas stations and arenas, and check out the bulletin boards. Not everyone is on the internet. Let’s just call it a dedication to analog communication.
TALK TO LOCALS
Don’t be shy. Head to the local restaurant during “coffee hour”. Ask some of the locals if there’s any properties for sale. Sometimes people sell property privately to avoid realtor fees. It doesn’t hurt to ask around. A smile and a friendly demeanor go a long way when having these conversations.
LOOK AT REALTY SITES
Contact as many realtors as you can and give them an idea of what you are looking for. Check in with them regularly. The more contact you have with them, the more they’ll remember you when a new property comes on the market. Bookmark all of these realty sites on your favourites tool bar and check them daily. Brad and I literally looked at realty websites every day for years. Make sure to check all of the listing categories, not just what you are specifically looking for. You just never know what you might find in the commercial or empty lot categories. I put a list of as many realtors in the region as I could find, as a pdf in my resource library. Head on over there to go directly to realtor listings in Northwest Ontario.
Keep documentation in a notebook or on your smartphone’s notes. Take note of how far a prospective property is from services that are important to you and your family. Will your children have to bus an hour to school each day? Will you be in trouble if emergency services cannot reach you? Will you have services such as television, internet, or hydro? What is the crime rate in that community? What is the neighbourhood like? Is there water on the land? Are you buying a swamp? These notes are incredibly handy when you are looking at 10 different properties!
EXPAND YOUR RESOURCE BASE
Beyond a good ol’ bulletin board, there are other resources; especially on social media and the internet. Look at online classifieds such as Kijiji, local online newspapers, printed newspapers, Facebook groups, and municipal websites. Brad’s former co-worker, Dennis Harcus, pointed out a classified ad on CKDR.net and that’s how we eventually got the farm. I have added a list of Facebook pages/groups and other websites for you to check out in the resource library. To get access to my resource library, all you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter. Easy peasy.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Think outside of your comfort zone. Perhaps you have grown up in one area all your life and don’t know any other way. Explore! We considered buying a bed and breakfast at Peggy’s Cove, farmland in the prairies and even land somewhere in Spain! (Neither of us have been to Spain….yet.) Or ask someone you know (or even someone you don’t know) if they are willing to divide and sell land. If you are craving the homestead life but don’t want the financial commitment, consider being a professional home sitter. Many people that run homesteads want to take a break and go on a holiday but find it difficult to get people to tend the land and animals while they’re gone. If you have the skills, write up a resume and advertise your availability! (PS: get ahead of the game and get a criminal check and share that with them. These people need to trust you 150%!)
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES
Sometimes properties are on the market for a long time, and for a reason; they are a lot of work. If you can get the price lowered and you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, then you could possibly flip a property into the paradise you desire. As you all know, our property was definitely a “diamond in the rough” but we are so proud of all the hard work we’ve done these last five years.
On a final note, before you even consider buying a property, make sure it’s something you really, really want, and can actually afford to make an offer on. Sometimes a gem of a property comes up and you have a very limited amount of time to make an offer. You don’t want to delay in doing so, because the longer you wait, the more you may end up paying! (Especially if the owner knows their property is of value to you!) Be confident in your offer, and if it doesn’t work out that time, it will. Just keep going down those backroads and keeping your ear to the ground. It’s out there, just waiting for you to turn it into your own personal paradise.
Good luck with your hunt!
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