By Ian Pennington
Even in an economic downturn, housing prices are still rising far beyond the rate of pay. Many middle class families have found themselves simply priced out of the housing market. If you are a family in this situation, finding government land for free or at least very cheaply can sound like an attractive option.
There are a few ways to find government land for free or cheap. Although none of these are guaranteed sources, many people have used them with great success. You can use them as springboards for your own home hunting search.
1. The Bureau of Land Management. This government agency owns land all over the country, but it only is allowed to sell its land in the far Western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. It doesn't usually give land away for free, although there have been a few notable exceptions, but it usually sells it for cheaper than average prices. These parcels are often in less populated areas but has been professionally maintained and may be ready to be built upon. If you are trying to get government land for free, the BLM may be a good starting point.
2. Homesteading. Although the federal homesteading act was shut down decades ago, many sparsely populated states have homesteading programs. These usually require the prospective landowner to build a house on the land in question and to put in electricity and roads. The homeowners must personally live on the land for five to ten years before becoming official owners. The areas that have homesteading programs are usually very remote and may be hours away from the nearest small town, so this is a great option for people who want to live off the beaten path--WAY off the beaten path.
3. Land grants. Another way to get land for free or very cheaply is to buy it with government land grants. These are available to help low income people, minorities, and women become property owners. Although few grants offer enough money to outright buy a home, many can be combined to take a supersized chunk out of one's housing cost. With information on these grants available throughout the internet, there is no reason to pay full price, or even half of full price, on your dream home.
4. Government Auctions. Although you will not find free land at a government auction, you will find land listed for just pennies on the dollar. If you are the only bidder, the price never goes up. Most people at a government auction are there looking for a deal, so the prices often never reach even half of what would be charged on the open market. If you buy a home and auction, you may be able to sell it for three to four times what you paid. If you do this a few times, you will have the money you need to buy your own home free and clear--without ever spending more than you did on rent. This is a deal that no American citizen can afford to pass up. Your taxes already paid for that property--why pay for it twice?
Ian Pennington is an accomplished niche website developer and author.
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