Buying old farmhouses ... any sources?

Started by hnash53, January 23, 2006, 02:30:28 PM

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We are evaluating various options for country living.  

One of them is purchasing an old farmhouse in Minnesota, eastern South Dakota or northern Iowa.  We'd like to maybe purchase one, and either refurbish it, and/or add on to it if we need to.

It seems that there should be some available.  I'm not interested in large acreages, but somewhere in the area of 5-10 acres.  Sometimes people sell off the farmland, but keep the houses.

Any source for farmhouses for sale that anyone knows of without having to buy the whole farm?

Thanks for your replies.



You only need one!  So yours may be there even if they are few and far between.  What I used to say to myself when looking for a job.

Start by seeing if United Country real estate is active in the areas you are looking at.  The can be a hair more likely to deal in raw land, fixer-uppers, etc.  You don't necessarily want to buy from them--but the web site is a big help in seeing what might be around.  And there's only one United Country franchise in Iowa, that's in Spirit Lake.

Around here, the whole farm would be divided and sold at auction, one lot with house and  barn.  5-10 acre lots is pretty standard.  Hard to hear about these unless you've got friends in the area.  No idea if that's true in the rest of the country, though.  

My mom grew up inear Fayette.  Pretty country.  None of the family left in the area, though.  One of her sisters lived outside of Oelwein in a house that had been electrified probably during the big push for rural electrification during the Roosevelt years, sold at one stage to an Amish family who ripped all the wiring out.  My relatives had to put it back.  (probably did some needed updating while they were at it.)


The guys in Spirit Lake ain't got nothing.  And prices look really really expensive.


Thanks, Amanda.

I've already looked into unitedcountry and they do have some stuff.  It appears to me that what is necessary is to actually go and look in the area where I am interested.  A lot of stuff seems to just be sold by locals to locals. and probably don't have much more than the tip of the "farmhouse" iceberg.

Minnesota and we come!


Anybody looking for rural property should read this book:

"Country Property Dirt Cheap: How I Found My Piece of Inexpensive Rural Land...Plus My Adventures with a $300 Junk Antique Tractor."

It is on my must have booklist.

Here is a earlier discussion in the old forum:


Iowa farm ground is averaging $2,914 an acre  

But when you start looking at 5 - 10 acre plots, it can go $5k - $20K an acre, depending on location.

You might look at //  or 

North East Iowa is in the Driftless area -- and has become popular with the trout fishing crowd.  $3k an acre is common  This one is 12 acres for $115,000

or 10 acres plus house  -- $246,000

Good luck.  I looked for 2 and a half years before I found what I wanted at a price I was willing to pay.


There's a number of listings on the above page...and you can kinda tour other stuff in the area.  Just to give you an idea of what prices are and what's on the market.  This area is the headwaters of the mississippi river.


I noticed a modification on a gold rush era cabin the other day -- some one put a vinyl window in the front room right on the outside where I could see it.  Burned me up. >:(


My wife and I decided to buy some land this summer.  We were looking in central to northern Minnesota.  It was an eye opening experience.  Most of the land was either way over-priced or swampland (literaly).  

Most realators wouldn't give you the time of day.  They sould show you their listings and that was about it.  We walked away from several, just on principle.  We did run into a couple which were helpful and curteous.  Unfortunately, the area they were covering, land was going for $5,000-10,000 an acre.  

It took all summer...looking and fishing along the way... but we finally found something.  We had gone to look at 5 acres with a hunting shack on it.  The realator had promised that the land was dry.  When we got up there and looked around, we found that indeed it was least for the 25 feet  that they had brought in fill.  We were standing in the driveway talking it over, when a car pulls in behind us.  It turned out to be a realator from the same office.  We talked with him for a while, and he showed us some land he had that was comming on the market in a few weeks.

We went out and looked and ended up buying it.  

SO to make a very long story short...sometimes you just have to go out to an area and get kind of lucky.

In Minnesota, unless you go way up north, you're going to have to get very lucky to find a cheap old farmstead.


Welcome to the forum, fishing_guy.

That is a bit how we found the land for the underground complex.  It had been sold but the guy backed out because he wasn't happy with a 1 gallon per minute well.  I knew that wasn't a problem so we got it - 20
acres for $68k.  About the cost of a good new truck.  

Sometimes you have to work a bit to find the deals but when you find the piece that fits you , you will know it. :)


The first piece of land I saw in this area was one in which the buyer had backed out at the last minute.  

I thought that their reasoning was perfectly sound.

And bought the second piece instead.


I will have a 12 acre homestead in Kansas for sale in about 3-4 years, long time to wait I know. We bought it in 1976,(a back to the land thing, having moved from Calif with 3 children.)The house had been abandoned for about 25 years. Built in late 1800's, a Large 2 story, 2100 sq ft, 5 bed, one bath. It had been the home of pigeons and raccoons for many years. Filled with dust from the "Dirty Thirties", 6" ceiling joists filled plumb full with the finest dust you could imagine, as I found out with the first ceiling I pulled down. The way I bought it was on a handshake, with the understanding that I was buying land, at an inflated price, but all that was on it was mine. This allowed certain things like cesspool etc. to be passed on and not require upgrading . It will be sold under the same understanding, why replace something that has worked well for all these years for something you need to pump out every so often.
It's been a great place to raise kids, and the nearest neighbors are at least 1 mile away in any direction for those who enjoy a little elbow room. I am nearing retirement and have bought a place in SE MO, which we will move to in about 3-4 years. My wife thinks we ned to be closer to one of the kids as we grow older. As for me, when I moved here, I had REA drill a hole for the out house, I told my wife that   when I died, to just slide it over, dump me in and slide it back, I wasn't  moving again.
Don't never say never!