Shopping for Your Survival Retreat

John J.
Survival Blog

One of the hardest things to do in living a survivalist lifestyle is acquiring a retreat. You'll discover rather quickly that your finances will determine the type and size of property you'll be able to purchase.

Another problem which you will encounter is determining where you should buy your retreat. The area you're looking at property in should be done with a good deal of research. You're likely to come across many types of deals in your search and you'll discover that some are better than others, but you need to find the one that's right for you. This of course is easier said than done.

An important consideration in your property search should be what type of employment you'll be able to find in that area. If you're in a position where you're retired or have a lot of savings this won't be an overriding factor in your decision.

Once you've determined the area you want to shop for property in you can then begin your search based on your criteria. Depending on your finances you may choose to buy a parcel with a structure on it, or a vacant piece of land.

Fortunately the current real estate market is a buyer's one compared to what it was just five years ago when it was a seller's one. The current economic depression has dragged down real estate prices to 20 year lows in some areas throughout the country. If you decide to purchase a vacant piece of land you may want to check out The channel is run by LaMar Alexander, he has several videos posted on how he purchased vacant lots and then built cabins on them. He also has other videos posted on how to improve a homestead.

Having worked as a realtor for several years I can tell you there are plenty of sources available to help you in your property search. The auction site eBay is one source which is touted by Alexander. Through the site it's possible to buy vacant land in isolated areas for as little as $500 an acre. Many of those types of deals are on properties in the Midwest and the Pacific states region.

For those who don't want to move so far into rural areas there are classified web sites like Craigslist. This site will allow you to search listings in your local metro area. Another option with Craigslist is that you can put the type of property you're looking for under the “wanted real estate” section. This is one way to bring sellers to you without having to go through listings to find properties to fit your search criteria. is another source for properties. This web site is much better tailored than Craigslist to help people with their real estate needs. The site is very easy to use, if you find a listing that you want information on then you can contact the realtor who's information will be listed on that property's page. The realtor can e-mail you a full write up about the property including its address.

You may find that using a realtor directly will help you in your property search. For those who are experienced and resourceful you'll be able to find properties on your own, but it can be useful to have a realtor to e-mail you listings. Realtors have direct access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system. This system is where the bulk of properties are listed in. A realtor can e-mail you listings from the MLS, these will have a complete write up about the property as opposed to the short listings on

You can also use a realtor to make written offers on properties, but if you do this you'll have to pay the agent a commission when the property closes. For some people this may not be a big deal, but others may not want to pay the fee.

Courthouse auctions are another option for buying property. Some county clerks do the auctions from the courthouse steps or online. Over the last few yeas many of the clerks have been switching to an online format because fewer people are attending the auctions in person. Having the auction online brings in a lot more bidders, which drives up the final price of the property. One benefit to courthouse auctions is that you usually have a few weeks to look at a property before it gets auctioned off. This gives you time to evaluate it against other properties which are up for auction.

The current depression has done a great deal of financial damage to millions of Americans. So if you don't have enough money to purchase your intended parcel outright don't despair. Instead get creative and evaluate all your options. You may have some family members who would split the cost of a property with you. Or you may have some like-minded friends who would be interested in doing the same. As an example you may want to purchase a 20 acre parcel which is listed for $50,000. You only have $20,000 to put towards it. Pitch the idea of splitting up the cost with your family or friends. Sell them on the idea of buying a piece of property and setting up a homestead. Considering how bad the economy is becoming they shouldn't need a whole lot of coaxing.

Once you have your money in order you can then begin making offers. You should have a short “want list” of properties together in case you're not able to get the one that you want you can then submit a bid on another one. If the property you're bidding on is listed with a realtor you may find them to be uncooperative to the extent that they won't forward a lowball offer to their seller. If you come across a realtor who says this to you then you can remind them that they're required by law to present all offers to their seller. If they get confrontational with you then you can go around the agent and contact their broker or contact the seller directly.

In this rapidly declining real estate market it is possible to get realtor listed properties for far less than their listed price. Two years ago, through a realtor I purchased an $11,000 lot for $4,000. Originally I had offered $2,500 for the property and the seller countered with $7,000. After several more offers and counter offers we agreed to a $4,000 sales price. During the negotiation process I reminded the seller's agent that the property was very unlikely to sell anytime soon since it had been on the MLS for over 200 days. Finally the seller realized that if he wanted to get any money from the property that he would have to accept my offer. Which he did and the deal was done. Haggling is the same whether it's personal or real property. If you end up paying too much for real estate you'll find yourself having buyer's remorse for quite some time.

Since the credit crisis began in 2007 it has become progressively more difficult to get a loan. The banks and the lenders scrutinize borrowers much more now than they had prior to the credit crisis. What this means is that you're going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to try to get a loan. And I emphasize the word “try” because there's no guarantee that if you do everything the lender wants you to do that they'll give you a loan.

Because of the difficulties in obtaining conventional financing I suggest trying to purchase a piece of property for as little money as you can, and of course pay cash for it. There are other financing options available to acquire a piece of property. One of those is owner financing. During the housing boom I bought a two acre lot with a structure on it through owner financing. I haggled back and forth with the seller, but eventually we agreed on the terms and completed the transaction. If you do an owner financing deal and the seller wants a ridiculous rate of interest then haggle with them over the rate. For example if they want to charge you 10% counter with 4%. At some point you'll meet in the middle and if you can't then walk away from the deal. There are plenty of other properties out there which will be better tailored to your criteria.

There are other creative financing options available. You can also find information about these financing techniques by doing internet searches on “creative financing”. One idea is if you're buying a large lot with trees on it you may be able to sell them to a lumber company and then use that money as the down payment for the property, provided the seller agrees to the terms. Don't be afraid to suggest unconventional ideas. The worst a seller can do is say no to them.

Searching for the right property can take a lot of time and be a frustrating experience, especially if you find yourself in situations where you're dealing with unrealistic sellers. But finding and setting up a retreat should be the number one priority for survivalists. You can have all kinds of survival supplies, such as food, ammo and guns. But if you're still living in a major metropolitan area when the riots begin you'll wish you had taken the time earlier to find your retreat. Don't put yourself in that position, start looking for your retreat today!

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