Hey Cora, I would like to buy a cabin on a lake or some remote property to create memories with my family. Any advice on where I should start so I don’t make a mistake? Signed – Alaskan Family Man
Dear Alaskan: That’s a great idea! Creating memories when your kids are young will last their entire lives! Here’s were we should start:
First: Let’s talk with a lender who specifically loans on cabins and remote properties. First National does and so does Mat Valley Federal Credit Union. That would be a great place to start, then you will know what you need for a down payment, what your payments will be so you can decide if you can afford it and make sure that the property meets the special limitations that the lender will require.
Second: let’s look on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and see what is out there. Some parameters on where you want to be, of course, is the perfect starting place. So will it be up north on the Susitna or Nancy Lake or east toward Sutton and up that way? Kenai is nice, that might be an option too! But let’s get that set so we can move forward in our search.
Third: The lender may have requirements that the property must meet. Like they may require that you can access it by road. There are a ton of properties out there that you can only get to by hiking in, four wheeler trail or by water, and these would not meet these particular lender requirements. Most, will allow no road access as long as you can get insurance. Other options are owner financing. Many sellers will owner finance on remote properties. I would suggest that if you do this, you go thru an Escrow Company; First National has an escrow department. They keep track of the payments you make and send you a statement at the end of the year so you can write off the interest on your taxes. This is a simple process and keeps all the books for you and has everything in order for when you pay off this property, they will record the proper documents at the end of the payments to remove the lien and give you clear title.
Fourth: check with your insurance agent and make sure they insure remote properties, or properties without road access. Even if it does have road access, you may not be able to get insurance. Remember that the structure may not be worth insuring, you may only be buying it for the property. So it’s important that you check out the areas that your insurance will not cover and we can go from there.
Fifth: Once we put our finger on a property that is perfect for you, if there is already a cabin on it, a home inspection might be what you need. Some people are just going to rebuild the cabin anyway and don’t really care about the condition. I know in the Big Lake and Nancy Lake area there are many, many old cabins that need to be torn down, but the property is very valuable. So just make sure that you consult your friendly Realtor and ask advice if it’s something should invest in an inspection or not.
Six: We have found the property, we have found the lender and we know that you can get insurance. Time to write the offer. Negotiating the offer on a cabin or recreational property is just the same as on a house. Your Realtor will advise you on the best offer to make to secure the property at the best possible price for you. It may go back and forth a few times before you complete your negotiations, but hopefully you will come out with everything you wanted!
Seven: preparing for closing; the title company will do a title search just like any other transaction to make sure that the seller really does own the property! Once that is complete and your loan package is ready to go, you will close at the title company and the seller will pass on the keys to you at that time. If you choose not to use a Realtor, and I don’t recommend it, DO use a title company. Don’t purchase without title insurance!
Eight: Now, go enjoy! Get those fishing polls in the water, plant some pretty flowers, decorate that cabin with old snow shoes! This is going to be your get away spot, your little sanctuary and that “happy place” you go to with your closest loved ones! Enjoy my friends
Photo by Matthew Sleeper and Rajiv Perera on Unsplash