How to Search for the Perfect Farmhouse, Plus 10 Listings

The April issue of HGTV Magazine (a relentlessly chipper publication) features Andrea Dekker and husband Dave, who bought a farmhouse they spotted on Craigslist. That was in Michigan, but the Greater Philadelphia area has no end of farmhouses for sale. Before you take to Craigslist to do what Dekker did, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The easiest way to find a farmhouse on Craigslist–or anything else on Craigslist, for that matter–is to use the search tool. That’s a good way to see what’s on the farmhouse market in general, and it’s also a good way to figure out what you’re looking for. What does “farmhouse” mean to you? For the Dekkers, “farmhouse” meant a 19th-century structure Andrea could have fun renovating, along with an acre of land. Farmhouses that are falling apart have a certain romance about them, but is that who you really are? Think about this clearly, particularly if you’re between the ages of 40 and 50.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Your Farmhouse Search

1. Do you want a farmhouse whose roof is about to fall in or whose roof just looks like it’s about to fall in? The appearance of almost-decay can be fantastic. Actual decay can break the bank.
2. Do you want a farmhouse that sits on workable farmland because you want to be a farmer? Or do you just want to grow vegetables and have some chickens? Tip: Consult actual farmers before choosing.
3. Speaking of vegetables and chickens, how important is the land? Are you thinking about raising alpacas suddenly, Ms. 48-year-old? If so, make sure to investigate what the land can support in terms of agriculture and animals.
4. Do you want a barn on the property? If so, do you want an unfinished barn to store things in? Or would you like a finished barn to set up as a man cave? Tip: Unfinished barns may not be able to have electricity and plumbing.
5. Are you purchasing a farmhouse to have horses? If so, note that such properties usually use the keyword “equestrian” in listings copy. Something to ask yourself: Have you been on a horse since summer camp?
6. Do you really just want a spit of land where a farm could be and then you’d build your own farmhouse? That’s always an option too.

Internet Tips for Your Farmhouse Search

You have to be careful with Internet searches for farmhouses. There are realtors who call crappy old row homes farmhouses, and then there are the farmhouse sinks, which can bring up a ridiculous number of listings that aren’t relevant.
1. Confine your search to Bucks County at first. We’re not saying there aren’t beautiful farmhouses elsewhere, but you’ll likely find something you love in Bucks, so why confuse matters? This will also avoid stumbling onto innumerable listings of farmhouses.
2. Use appropriate keywords. On Craigslist,–whichever real estate tool you’re using that allows for keyword search (and there aren’t many), get a little creative with your “farmhouse” modifiers. Try “rustic,” “historic” or “stone,” and then do a separate search for “horses” or barn.” “Kennel” sometimes works. Get a thesaurus if you need to.
3. Go directly to broker websites rather than clearinghouses. Yes, it seems easier to just hop on and browse, but you won’t necessarily find Adam Shapiro of Weidel Realty’s listing for a stone farmhouse by Lake Towhee for $399,000. And that place is pretty sweet. Use Google-fu for this one: “Bucks County farmhouse” or some variation thereon will do.
4. Don’t forget the Farm & Garden section of Craigslist. Property sometimes shows up there, or you can tell that someone is selling off a lot of equipment because they’re selling off the land.
5. Finally, if you know you don’t want a really rickety thing, but you like the farmhouse aesthetic, try “bank barn” instead of “barn.” and “renovated.” If you want to be a little more adventurous, try “unique,” “original” and “hearth.”

Here are 10 current farmhouse listings to give you an idea of what’s out there:

105 Limekiln Lane, Durham Twp, PA | Bucks County, PA
Liberty Farm / Upper Black Eddy, Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania
4280 Township Line Rd, Furlong
2360 E Rock Rd, Perkasie, PA 18944
6000 Twin Silo Rd, Doylestown, PA 18902
827 Green St, Perkasie, PA 18944
409 Marienstein Rd, Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972
1727 Larkin Rd, Boothwyn, PA 19061