Episode 1: LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION
Ok so as the saying goes, it truly is all about location and our journey finds that this is all too true! Steve, my husband, and business partner, is a waterman. He grew up on the water in NY and says he has saltwater in his veins. Our lives have been built on trying to be near navigable water for boating and water sports. Even during his 20+ years in the Army, we’ve managed, as best as possible, to have and use a boat whenever and wherever possible. His goal has always been to eventually retire and have his boat in the back yard. This is where our journey starts. Finding a home or homesite on the water. Our location is driven by our need for waterfront property, more specifically, navigable waterfront property. Now there are so many caveats to waterfront property, so our requirements helped us narrow down our search. What was most important to Steve was finding a location that could accommodate a boat with at least a 5-foot draft, so we were looking for a deep water lot. Mind you, there are navigable waterfront properties that can only support a kayak; but, for our needs, this would not do. The views may be gorgeous, but boating from your backyard is not possible. We kept our search along the entire east coast of the USA for existing homes with at least a 6 to 8 foot Mean Low Water. It is amazing how limited the options were and how expensive the options were with over 6 feet MLW! So our discovery and search continued for nearly 2 years. We found nice scenic locations but found them to be located on the Intercoastal Waterway many many miles away from stable inlets to the Atlantic Ocean. As we explored our options, we recognized that our boating requirements focused upon, local fishing, deep water fishing, day trips, and long excursions. We didn’t want to have a long T-Dock that would require a rail or golf cart to bring supplies from the house to and from the boat. While we were looking at options we saw many docks that were nearly a quarter-mile long and ruled these out. So ideally, we were looking for a location that supported deep water access, near a stable inlet with Ocean access, and a bulkhead or short pier or the ability to install a bulkhead or short pier, which was reasonably close to the house. We also were looking for a scenic view, and a location near to restaurants, beaches, and shopping. We found gorgeous options so far above our price point, it was mind-boggling. The homes we found that checked off all of our wishes were priced well over $2,000,000. That was way, way, way, above our budget for a home. After 2 years of searching online, Steve found an interesting option and said, we should take a drive down to see this property, it looks like it may check off all the boxes. Steve had recently stayed in Beaufort NC at a Marina and really liked this town. The home he saw was in Morehead City NC, on the Crystal Coast also known as the Southern Outer Banks. So we went to check out this home. It was a 4 bedroom home with a main level master, a bulkheaded deepwater dock. The home itself had a nice but very outdated floor plan. The color scheme was bold and too personal to the previous owner for my liking and the price was very high for the square footage. The big issue I had with this location was the waterfrontage lacked a spectacular view and was very narrow. We passed on this opportunity; however, we found that we liked the area very much. We drove the neighborhood and found several older homes on the street further down towards a wider part of the waterway. We also found an undeveloped lot for sale on the same waterway that had a spectacular view. At that time, our goal was to purchase a property with an existing home we could rent for a few years, and then renovate to our specs when we were ready. We hired a local agent and learned that one of the homes in our target area was considering selling; but, was not yet active to market. We had an opportunity to visit this home and loved the lot and the view. The deepwater access was awesome and the docks were in place! The home had 3 spacious bedrooms and was horribly dated and full of mold. We felt that we could rehab, renovate, and rent this home. We made an offer. Unfortunately for us, the neighbor directly next door, learned that his next-door neighbor wanted to sell and found ourselves in a bidding war on a property that was not even active to market! We lost to the neighbor next door. It was disappointing, but, when a door closes a window opens. Steve and I kept coming back to the vacant lot with the drop-dead gorgeous views and the bulkhead and pier already installed. A wide-open canvas, without having to remediate mold or the previous owner’s wild use of aqua blue everywhere (to include all bathroom tiles, kitchen countertops, and roof). We changed our focus so we could obtain our ideal location. And decided to pursue the raw land.
So as our journey continues, we successfully purchased the raw land off of the Bouge Sound on a very small protected but deepwater inlet. We are very close to a major port and stable inlet. Lots of gorgeous views and warmer weather with 4 seasons! We are also close to 2 major Marine Bases which is an added benefit. A quick 10-minute drive gets us on the beach! We couldn’t be more excited! Stay tuned for the next episode, “Why you need a study period before you close on raw land”!
Follow our journey through the process of buying land and building a new home by following the Lifestyle & Experience Section of my blog.
I hope through sharing our journey it will help many more families consider buying land and building their dream homes!
There are land opportunities in Northern Virginia. Steve and I would be happy to help you make a raw land purchase.