So anyway, I'm guessing with all my posts about farm life and whatnot you are all kind of thinking to yourselves "Man, how do I get me a little piece of Eden like that?" Well, I'm here to tell you, Wonder No More! For I, being both farm owner and real estate person, will impart upon you the ultimate secret for purchasing you pastoral paradise!
Listen closely, people.
First, you must find the farm you want to buy. Don't limit yourself to farms that are actively marketed for sale because, really, everything is for sale. You just have to bide your time and strike when the soft underbelly is exposed - which I will explain momentarily. Now, whilst you are out looking for your farm, pay particular attention to whether or not there is currently any livestock because, the more livestock, the better. It doesn't matter that you don't want livestock on your farm because that has nothing to do with it. Trust me, the more livestock, the better.
Once you've found the farm of your dreams, your next step is to befriend the current owner(s). I don't care how you start - maybe plan a flat tire in front of their house or something - but you need to get to know your sellers. I mean really get to know your sellers. After that initial meeting, you must make reasons to stop by frequently and visit, talk and socialize.
Now the very important thing to remember at this stage is DON'T TELL THEM YOU ARE PLANNING TO BUY THEIR FARM!!! No, no, my little prospectors. This is a secret. What you msut do instead, is compliment the owner(s) on the property, including things like "You really have a nice place here. I would love to have something like this someday. Blah, blah, blah, blabbity blah..." What you are doing is making the owners proud of their property (don't worry, this will not affect you adversely) but also giving them something to talk about around the dinner table. For instance, your sellers' dinner conversation will go something like, "Yeah, Elvis was by today. I get a kick out of how he says he'd like to own a farm. Do you remember how he couldn't even change his tire that one time? And he wants to own a farm. Yeah, right..." And so on. See, this also gives your sellers a feeling of superiority. Again, not to worry, this will not work against you. Just remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. This especially applies to heads.
Ok, so now you picked your farm and you've befriended the owners. What next? Get closer. No, no, not physically. Emotionally. You need to really get to know your sellers now. The main things you want to learn about are 1.) likes and dislikes, 2.) their social schedule and 3.) what kind and the amount of live stock. Let's look at these items one by one.
Like and Dislikes. This is the Getting to Know You stage. Here you want to really get to know your sellers' personalities. What would they enjoy doing if they had free time (which, by the way, they have very little of). Do they like NASCAR races? Do they like bluegrass festivals? Chances are it's one or the other. Why do you want to know this? Well, you are going to start breaking the foundation of their resolve with this information. You are going to start saying things like "My brother called yesterday and asked if I want to go to the Pocono race this weekend. I can't wait. We even have infield tickets. We'll probably go up a few days early to get a good spot and party a bit." While you are saying this, the farmer is examining his/her own schedule and thinking "Man, I'll never get to a race with all this work..." You can see where this is going to go. The farmer starts to look at his/her own life and question all the things they are giving up in order to have the farm. Cruel? Maybe. Effective? Definitely. Similarly, if you find certain things that they don't like, use it to your advantage in a similar manner. For example, your farmer doesn't like the fact that their house is hot in the summer. Work things into your conversation such as "Man, my boss keeps the air in the office so cold I can barely concentrate on work..."
Social Schedule. Now, again, farmers don't have much of a social schedule because they always have a bunch of stuff to do. But even farmers have things like weddings, class reunions, etc., that they will try to make an exception for. What you need to learn is when these things are going on because you are going to use one of these events to plan your attack. You need to know what day the event is on, where it will be held, and, approximately when the farmers expect to return home. On this last item, the later the hour of return, the better for you.
Livestock. This last item is crucial. Remember, it doesn't matter whether you plan to keep livestock. For purposes of buying a farm, you shouldn't even think of animals as livestock. You must now change your perception and begin to think of animals as BLU's, or Bargaining Leverage Units. It is a little known phenomenon in the whole farm sale scheme but I am here to impart this wisdom to you. Here's how it works: Each dependent mouth is worth 3 BLU's. Now, when I say dependent mouth, do not think children. Children are not dependent mouths on a farm. (They are cheap labor. They are terribly resourceful in fending for themselves. As a matter of fact, if I was on a plane full of people that went down in the wilderness, and the Airborne Ranger wanted to go east, and the 6 year old farm child wanted to go west, I'd be heading west, thank you very much.) Anyway, now you must take a closer look at the animals. Some people don't consider dogs and cats livestock but, for our purposes, you can. If it is an inside cat, you can count the full 3 BLUs. If they are outside cats, deduct 2 BLU's per cat because outside cats can pretty much fend for themselves. Now look at the large animals. If they are regular livstock, fine - 3 BLU's. However, if they are dairy animals, add 2 BLU's per each milking animal. Got that? Good. Basically, the Bargaining Leverage Units are an indication of the amount of work and responsibility tying your sellers to the farm.
Now, how does it all work? Well, I'm going to run you through a little scenario.
Suppose you find a farm in, um..., let's say the Pennsylvania coal region. You befriend the owners and get to know them a little bit. During the course of getting to know them, you find out that their house is very, very ice cold during the winter. You can say things like "Hoo boy, we turned up the heat today and now my house is roasting!" Or similarly, "Our heating bill was high this month. Well, I guess that's what we get if we're going to keep it at 75 degrees..."
Now, you also happen to notice that these folks have, say, 3 inside cats, 6 outside cats, two dogs and a goat that is milking. This calculates out to 9 BLU's for the indisde cats, 6 BLU's for the oustide cats, 6 BLU's for the dogs and 5 BLU's for the milking goat for a whopping total of 26 Bargaining Leverage Units.
Finally, you keep track of their social schedule. You find out that the owners are going to attend...let's see...how about a picnic with lots of bluegrass music, food and drink hosted by friends they hardly ever get to see. You talk to the sellers a bit about the picnic, not trying to score an invitation mind you, but to find out their plan. Of course, they can't stay over night like everyone else because they have to come home and milk the goat. But, you also know that they will try to stay as late as they possibly can because they want to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of this little shindig. They figure they won't get home before 11pm or so.
Good. Now you put you plan in motion.
The morning after the picnic, stop by your future farm as early as is acceptable in your little corner of the world. Make sure you got a good night's rest the night before and be sure to be freshly showered with at least one good cup of coffee under you belt. Better yet, bring a large travel mug of coffee with you. Stop by to visit your sellers while they are dragging their tired, hungover, sorry asses about the property and remark on what a lovely day it is and your thinking of going for a swim or something. Then ask about the picnic. At this point, the sellers will tell you how they had such a nice time and it was great to see everyone but, unfortunatly, they had to leave right when everything was really getting going to come home to milk the damn goat. Just stand there and say something like, "Man, that sucks" and let them continue rambling. Just agree with them on whatever they say until they talk themselves into a subdued silence.
Now is the time to strike!
Say to your sellers, "Did you ever think of selling and enjoying life a little bit?" At which point they will shamefully admit that sometimes, sometimes when no one else is around, they dream of selling everything and living out of a Honda Civic parked in a grocery store lot.
Then you say, "Well, I'm not sure if I'm doing the right thing or if I'm ready for this but...I'd be willing to buy your place for eighty two dollars, lock stock and milking goat." It helps if you have the eighty two dollars on you at this point because they will be on that little wad of cash like a senior citizen on the Atlantic City bus on check day, thanks a lot and so long sucker!
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a farm. Good luck and God be with you.