Everybody wants to go off-grid.
We all dream of it: living life on your on time, on your own terms, and without your phone constantly buzzing with work emails. But only a lucky few are truly able to make it happen. Because of the very nature, finding off-grid homes can be a little tricky.
But, the idea of homesteading is becoming more and more popular throughout the country. So, there are still quite a few resources available to people who would like to purchase these types of homes and properties.
Here, we’ll walk you through the best ways to find the off-grid home of your dreams.
What is off-grid real estate?
Off-grid real estate is essentially part of a lifestyle movement. “Off the grid” homes and lifestyles refer to a style of living that is completely self-reliant. Sometimes, those in the community will call it “OTG” living for short.
Basically, off gridders live on homesteads in more remote or rural areas. They choose not to rely on city or county utilities. This is where the name “off the grid” comes from. They don’t rely on the power grid.
These homesteads also do not use gas, water, electricity, or waste (sewage) services. Instead, those who own these properties strive towards sustainable and autonomous living as best they can.
Most people who live off the grid grow their own food through veggie patches, gardening, and a small farm. They also compost their own waste and generate their own power.
Living off grid doesn’t mean that you live like the Amish. It just means that you take responsibility for producing the aforementioned things yourself.
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How do you find off-grid homes for sale?
Does this sound like your ideal lifestyle? We are here to help. If you are ready to unplug, but need a little bit of help finding the right place to do so, here are the best resources for you to use.
We’ll start you off easy with Zillow.
Zillow is a very easy way to find off-grid homes for sale because it’s a traditional real estate site. Because of this, it’s likely that you are already very familiar with it. And if not, that you can learn its features very quickly.
If you use the advanced search feature on Zillow, then you will be able to locate off-grid properties and land. But beware! Zillow has a lot of different features, so you need to make sure to have them set in a certain way to actually find what you want.
Follow these tricks and you’ll find what you need in no time:
- Remove apartments, condos, and townhomes from the home type
- Ensure your lot size is greater than 10 acres to weed out suburban properties
- Click “more filters” and type in the keyword “grid”
If you use these filters on your search, it’s very likely that you will find your perfect off-grid property in no time. Off-grid homesteads come in a variety of sizes and locations, so if you would like to shop within a specific budget, Zillow has a filter for that option as well.
Off Grid Realty Sites
Using Zillow is easy, but there are also a number of off-grid specific realty sites. Here are two of the most popular ones to choose from:
This is a website that has listings specifically for people who identify as either preppers or survivalists,or both. The website has a lot of really cool listings for compounds and most of them are off the grid. Even if you don’t consider yourself a doomsday prepper, websites like Survival Realty still can give you a pretty good idea of what’s out there.
Just like typical off-grid homesteads, homes for sale on Survival Realty. A simple search reveals homes priced from just 100,000 all the way up to a few million dollars. You can buy from Survival Realty in every single state in the USA as well as a few countries overseas.
This website only features sustainable, off-grid properties. It has listings all over the United States, so whether you are looking to buy local, or relocate completely to start your off-grid adventure, then it’s likely you could find what you need on here.
If you are having trouble locating an off-grid property that has a listing you are interested in, don’t give up.
Sometimes, it’s better to go more local with your search. While the best option is always going to go with a local agent who you can speak with in person (more on that below), there is another option: state-specific realty websites.
A quick Google search can reveal firms that with off the grid housing in your immediate area. For example, Retreat Realty is an off-grid specific company based in North Carolina.
Social Media Listings
One of the really nice things about off-grid living is the community that comes with it. Most people who have this lifestyle are keen to help each other out. They are also keen to provide information to people interested in joining in.
There are a number of groups on social media sites like Facebook filled with off-grid homes for sale. These groups can be for a certain area, state, or nationwide. Because of this, there are simply too many to link to or recommend a certain one.
However, if you pop just a few terms into the search box on Facebook, then it’s likely that you will find exactly what you are looking for very soon. Many of these listings are for sale by owner, while agents post other off-grid listings.
For Sale by Owner
This kind of listing can be really hard to find if you don’t already live in the area that you want to purchase in. Usually, the advertisement campaign for homes like this is seriously lacking. This is because you might only find an ad in the local newspaper, on a bulletin board at the library, or on a sign on the side of the road.
However, if you do manage to track one down, there is a major benefit to it: they are much cheaper. Without the 6% agent’s fee, the owner can sell for less and still expect to make a profit. And, as a buyer, you do have another major negotiating point. Think about how hard it was for you to find this home. Is it likely that anyone else is going to be able to find it, too?
It should be pretty easy to encourage an owner to sell at the moment while they have a buyer in front of them. This is because who knows when another will come along.
An Agent Who Knows the Area
The best overall option for finding homes that are off of the grid is going to be a real estate agent who really knows the area. No amount of research you can do on your own is going to match that theirs. This is because a good agent not only has years of experience with these kinds of deals, but also many connections in the area as well.
A great local agent will have access to information that, as someone who is just a member of the “general public” you would never be able to get your hands on. They can make phone calls to contacts to ask for favors, inside scoops, and better deals. They can be a top detective and your advocate.
And they won’t charge you an arm and a leg to do it.
Introducing Flat Fee Agents
As someone interested in off the grid living, you are likely not someone who wants to do things by the book. You might have heard that partnering with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home is expensive. This is because currently, the national average for Realtors is a 6% commission of the final sales price, split between the buyer’s and seller’s agent.
The commission comes out of the proceeds that the seller receives, but the buyer technically supplies the funds.
But, if you partner with Clever, all the agents work on a flat fee structure. Which if you are selling a house, means you can save significant amounts of money on commission. And, if you are hoping to buy a home off the grid, a flat fee buyer’s agent is going to be a great tool to have as you negotiate for a better price, as they will still cost the seller less proceeds.
What are the challenges of buying off-grid?
In addition to locating a homestead to actually purchase, you might have a lit bit of trouble financing your off the grid home with a traditional bank.
This is because off-grid homes can’t qualify for regular mortgages. Neither Fannie Mae nor Freddy Mac will help. If you are going to borrow money from the bank to finance your home, then the bank has to be willing to take a chance on you. You will be a special risk case.
This makes sense because when you think about it, if you default on your mortgage (which means you stop paying it), the bank will be stuck with a property that will have a pretty niche buyer. Because of this, most banks will be wary about lending money for financing.
While cash only is the way to go, sometimes you can still get a mortgage from a credit union, through seller financing, or just with a higher interest rate.