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neighborhoods with multi acre lots

1,694 Views | 13 Replies | Last: 11 days ago by Foamcows
Foamcows
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AG
The wife and I are looking to buy some land (5-10 acres) in Central Texas and are noticing that about half of the lots we find are in in neighborhoods... not your typical neighborhood with sidewalks and mailboxes, but a bunch of multi acre sized lots. Not sure if there is a nickname for these or not. Each has HOA fees, but with a huge range (30 month - 400 month) that is proportionate to the shared resources. We have seen some have high fences and claim to have exotic game roaming the area.

So I have to ask, what are the pros/cons to these types of developments?

Off the top of my head some would be
Pro: your neighbors wont decide to open a junk yard
Con: have to get all buildings/etc approved

As we aren't really looking to get 25+ acres, which would allow us to be so far from our neighbors that what they do wouldn't be visible... the idea of living in one of these neighborhoods sounds appealing, just wanting to make sure that we aren't overlooking anything.

Also, is there a tax reason for the exotic animals?
MAS444
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AG
Curious about this too for down the road... My understanding is the exotics helps get a wildlife exemption - so super lower property taxes on the land. You mentioned the obvious downsides, which are true of any HOA type controlled neighborhood...and of which I'm generally not a fan (but as you say, it sure seems that the acreage/space can mitigate a lot of that). The other thing I'd be worried about is mismanagement by those in charges....whether financially, over-bearing rule enforcement, etc... Having other people in charge of my property just makes me nervous. But obviously there's some really nice developments out there that appear to be really well done with nice amenities, etc.
GrimesCoAg95
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AG
It sounds like you have a good idea of the pros/cons. You will have deed restrictions that limit you while hopefully protecting property values. The other thing is that you will have shared amenities. If you buy unrestricted land, you simply will not. I lived in one and now live on unrestricted land. I see the positives of both.
Foamcows
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AG
how did you find the unrestricted land? I have attempted to filter to these options by excluding anything with an HOA fee, but HOA fees arent always reported in whatever system there is that manages the properties you see in zillow and other websites.

Im also finding properties that are not part of a subdivision or HOA, but the seller has put in place several restrictions. The biggest restriction I am having issues with is nobody allows a barndominium, but thats what we are interested in making. I suspect it's the traditional metal siding, which is something we were not going to use, at least on the front of the property.

I suspect the biggest issue we are having is we are looking for small acreage, and anything sub 10 acres is actually just a part of a larger lot that they are selling off.
GrimesCoAg95
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AG
Most unrestricted land in the 10 acres range is being split and may come with some restrictions. What area are you looking in?
Foamcows
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AG
Pretty big area. As far Southwest as Mico. Northwest as Burnett, Northeast as Somerville, and Southeast as Shiner.

Would love to end up paying around 10k an acre but entertaining the idea of going up to 20k to find something a little nicer.

Ultimately we're just finding everything is pretty restricted. Not a huge rush, but it would be nice to find something to combat corona without kids boredom.
MAS444
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AG
Post here if you find any good resources for this. Following...
Foamcows
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AG
I'll update this as I go, but of all the websites I have found with property, www.zillow.com and www.landsoftexas.com are my favorites for their interface and ability to search by map.

I have found that the location of some of the properties can be off a bit, maybe by a 1/2 mile. When you zoom in far enough on zillow they have super imposed the lot lines which helps. I wish there was a way to keep that on without having to zoom in so far.

So to filter out the neighborhoods its a pretty basic approach... In zillow they have a filter for HOA, which you can set to NO HOA, and it will filter out most properties. However, there are some where the listing entity hasn't provided the data accurately, and thus it incorrectly falls into the no hoa category. The only effective way I have for filtering these out is to toggle the HOA filter off and on. If i see a ton of properties pop up in the area, then its pretty easy to tell. In addition if the property listing mentions anything about a neighborhood/community, it's also a red flag.

For those that want a house in one of these neighborhoods, I would use the opposite approach. Turn on the filter, find the hot spots where these lots are, and then disable the filter to find all the properties.

Once I have narrowed down the search, i flip the MLS number to my relator who calls to get the details. I try not to flip more than one per day their way. Currently we have 2-3 properties that are interesting to us so this weekend we are going to take a road trip to view them all.

While on the topic of road trips. If you are looking to find something in a gated community, i have found that most listings require your agent to be with you to get into the gate... so that means possibly dragging your relator 3 hours there and 3 hours back if they are in Houston like I am, or perhaps find a relator in the area.

Again, this probably doesn't help anyone much as this is pretty basic stuff, but if i find a better resource or system ill be sure to update everyone.
Foamcows
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AG
What I really would like to find is a good resource for topographical maps of an area. Being from Houston I have this urge to really understand where the nearest river/creek is and how much elevation difference there is from the property to the nearest pooling point.
GrimesCoAg95
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AG
I like https://www.landsoftexas.com/

I hate to do this, but you should consider the number of acres.

Reason 1
Check the county to see what you need for ag/wildlife exception. I am assuming you will do one of those. Each county will have a limit, and you typically want to buy at least 1 more acre. When you build they will pull one acre out as homesite.

Reason 2
The cost per acre will be higher on the small tracts. I am not saying you need 50 or 100 acres, but you might consider 11-20. I am not trying to kill your budget.
histag10
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AG
There are 7 acres for sale next door to us that would be basically a blank slate. We are north of Bryan. The issue though is Brazos county requires 10 or 15 acres for an ag exemption i believe.
Foamcows
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AG
Appreciate the feedback. I'll be honest and admit I don't know much about the ag exemption. Is it for the land or the land and the house? Is it that large?
Willie Lane
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An Ag valuation, commonly called an ag exemption, is for land that is put into agricultural production (like livestock, hay, timber, or bees) or conservation (wildlife). They cannot include your homestead, but can save a large amount of money on taxes. For example, we have land valued at about 100k and pay ~$50 in taxes because of the ag valuation. We pay full taxes on the 1 acre homestead.

In smaller tracts (less than 15 acres), you may be limited by the county on what type of "exemption" you can put the land into. For example, our property was too small for a timber valuation because the county minimum was 12 acres, so we established the apiary (bees). You would need to talk to the county tax office where the property is located to find out rules and regulations.

Getting these are not "free" and often require significant time and effort to establish and maintain. However, the cost savings are usually worth it. We chose to start our own bees, but there are people on facebook groups who would maintain the hives if we paid them 25-30% of the tax savings. Timber and Hay are probably the lowest cost/effort.

Property must be in ag production for 5 of the last 7 years before being granted an ag valuation. Therefore you have spend 5 years keeping records to submit your file to the county before receiving any tax benefits. If you buy a property with an exemption on it, you can keep it when purchasing. You can even change it to a different type without restarting the clock. For example, say you had 20 acres with livestock and you wanted to switch to bees, you could do that and never miss a year.

The wildlife is slightly different because it has to be put into ag production first, then switched to wildlife, and then records and management plan have to be submitted yearly. This is all very doable with some reading and texaging.
Foamcows
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AG
thanks again for the explanation, its much less confusing than everything I was finding online. It appears that each county has their own rules for how to qualify, but almost all require a buffer period to add the exemption if it doesn't previously exist, thus any property you buy it would be ideal if it had it in place.

With that said it appears that we are at a crossroad... how much land to get. If we go over the 10-15 acre mark then it bypasses the HOA/neighborhoods and you get less restrictions. However, going up to the 10-15 acre mark, to keep in budget, the lots is very inaccessible (2+ miles of dirt road) or just not that ideal... to afford a large lot in a nice area is easily 200-300k.

Realistically we would never use more than 4-5 acres, I'm not planning on becoming a farmer. As long as the land around us isn't ugly to look at, then 4 acres should be plenty, and thus the appeal of some of these neighborhoods. But then we have the conflict of wanting to do a barndominium and the HOA not allowing these.... maybe the compromise will be a normal house, but adding a large, but separate barn.
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