Yesterday, we began by asking many questions to determine just how prepared and ready you were for a situation when you or your spouse were unable to continue daily or regular responsibilities around the homestead. It is apparent that many preppers are aging and just can’t do the independent prepping and property maintenance and management they had envisioned and begun decades earlier. So, in part one of this article series, we discussed some of what it takes to prepare your property for sale.
That brings us to today’s reality. Plan now for a time when the Good Lord calls you up, as unlikely or as remote as that possibility may seem to you now. Plan for the liquidation of your property, because it’s highly unlikely that your heirs will get the full value of what you invested into your retreat property when they sell it at the average per acre price for farmland in your three-county area. No! You’ll not get anything near the outrageous sums that developers paid for 200+ acres of attractive mountainside about six miles from your retreat. But you can get a very fair price and can help your survivors hand off a great off-grid property to another prepper… if you do your research and your homework now.
Think of it like life insurance. When you’re gone, it pays off for your survivors. Planning now pays off because you leave vital information behind that helps your heirs properly value the retreat assets in a manner that reflects the true investment you and your family made over the many years you worked the property.
Key Elements in Preparing to Liquidate
Let’s review some key elements to preparing to liquidate your retreat when you recognize that the “writing is on the wall” because of your health, your spouse’s health, your economic situation, or you just plain ran out of steam for maintaining your property.
Mindset of and Guidebook for First-Time Survival Retreat Buyer
In starting a plan to value your retreat property, it can be very helpful to adopt the mindset of someone who is buying a rural, remote survival retreat for the first time. Let’s say the potential buyer knows only what they heard from friends or learned from some cursory Internet research of prepper sites. They have a dream of getting back to nature, homesteading on some rural land, and living off-grid. So tell your potential buyers about why they will love your turn-key property, in detail, and write it all down. This sounds easy, but it may not be so easy for many folks. Get it done. Tell how your retreat was built to fit your dreams. Write an advertisement for your survival property. It can serve as the bedrock for everything else you commit to the written guidebook that we’ll title: “Running My Retreat for Dummies.”
Inventory the Neat, Unique Stuff
Once you have a comprehensive description of your retreat committed to paper, it’s time to inventory all the neat, unique stuff you built to make your retreat the bullet-proof safe house that it is. Pay particular attention to features that you integrated into your structures and now maybe take for granted. For example, provide specs on the shatter-resistance film you put on your windows and the composition of the walls that you specially designed to resist penetration by various projectiles. Give details of how your root cellar/storm shelter was constructed into that hillside near your cabin. Have you included specifics on that complex water filtration system that you installed and how you mapped the location of all the extra parts, spare filters, et cetera? Don’t forget to explain that the long length of wire stretched between tall trees behind your house is a Ham radio dipole.
What about that hidden room or underground shelter beneath your retreat? A serious buyer will want to know how it was constructed, heated, ventilated and kept water- and rodent-proof. Make note of all your spares – everything from replacement stove pipe to fuses for your solar system disconnects. All the details will be important (at least eventually) to the buyer of a turn-key retreat property. The availability of thorough documentation on all homestead features also serves as “icing on the cake” to attract serious offers when it’s time to liquidate the property.
Regional and Local Area Research
Do some research on your region and your local area, and include statistics for your county. You know very well why you settled in the area you are located in. Tell your buyers about why your location is so good. Write it all down for future use. Don’t forget to note where vital services are: fire protection, sheriff, trauma centers, and how far away your retreat is located from nuclear plants and major metro areas.
Take some good HD photos. Most smart phones have pretty good optics now, so compose good property photos, taken during different seasons and save them to use when it’s time to market your property online. Make sure your heirs know where to find these photo files, either digital or printed copies.
Purchase and Property Documentation
Of course, pull together all the property documentation from your original purchase, and keep it in a secure location. That includes your deed of trust (or other legal proof of ownership), title policy, most recent appraisal, land survey (a real one, not the satellite variety that fast-talkers use), proof of your mortgage note pay-off if you own your property free and clear, property tax statements, et cetera. Smart buyers want solid proof that you own all that you say you own. The closing table is the wrong time to discover that there are unknown liens or “contingencies” to the sale of your property.
The Meeting With Loved Ones
Once you’ve collected documentation, prepared an inventory and operations guidelines, it’s time to have “the meeting”. That would include your loved ones and anyone with a vested interest in your retreat property. Let them know what you’ve done and where to find the secure documentation if and when it is needed. Make multiple copies and keep them secure as well. Don’t forget to update these guidelines and inventories as time goes on; you may have some serious longevity genes and need to make changes as you continue to make improvements to your property. Speaking of forgetting, it may be a good idea to let a trusted individual know where a copy of your retreat documentation is secured, just in case you might get a wee bit forgetful; I’m just sayin’.
One area that survival retreat owners are particularly sensitive to is OPSEC. How do you feel about letting unknown individuals know where your property is and what its unique features are? You’ve probably gone through a lot of trouble and expense to stay low profile in your neighborhood and keep your preps under wraps. Carefully consider which (if any) compromises you may accept in publicly marketing the property. Getting your property on the Realtors Multiple Listing Service sites will probably deliver a significant quantity of inquiries but not necessarily quality candidates. A private listing service that caters to retreat properties, like Survivalrealty.com, can be a viable option to provide you with various degrees of anonymity and contacts from prospective buyers who understand the preparedness retreat mindset. Many retreat owners who value their privacy and anonymity use a “go-between” as a buffer.
They serve as an intermediary between your family and potential buyers. This is an experienced professional (not a real estate agent or broker) specializing in assistance in do-it-yourself retreat property sales and acquisition in the Redoubt areas. A professional can sort out the tire-kickers from the serious candidates, answer basic questions about your retreat, and (most importantly) can pre-qualify potential buyers based on your criteria of financial worthiness before they ever make an appointment to see your property. The third-party can safeguard your identity and the location of your property, while making themselves available to qualified buyers and Realtors on the owner’s behalf. This can be a very practical alternative for owners who prefer to sell the property themselves but are somewhat “rusty” on the buy/sell processes. I cannot overstate the critical importance of this piece of OPSEC in the liquidation planning process.
Granted, it may make you uncomfortable to consider the future sale of your retreat, but think how uncomfortable your heirs may be when they realize how very little they know about the retreat that you built and/or developed over time. Sure, your family members may keep the retreat for a while as a vacation house, but if they are not on site regularly to keep up with routine maintenance, the property quickly devalues and the surroundings (the forest and the critters) will eventually take back your retreat. At that point, your heirs could face selling your retreat to the locals for pennies on the dollar. And that’s not a good deal.
Plan now for the inevitable. Create and maintain good documentation that can be used to guide your heirs in retreat operations and demonstrate the valuable features of your property to a potential buyer. You have prepared for most everything else, right? Don’t neglect to plan for the time when you, voluntarily or otherwise, throw in the towel.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part two of a two part entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 74 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.