Is "Free Land" Really Available for Purchase Somewhere?

Finding free land is possible, but legitimate offers are rare and always come with specific requirements you must perform to take possession. Scams and misinformation are prevalent with this possibility. Consider the following information about land giveaway programs before making any commitments. 

The Homestead Myth

The concept of homesteading is appealing - stake a claim on land, stay there and you own it. There are many claims and online ads that advertise free government land and many people believe homesteading federal land is still a possibility. It is not, the federal Homestead Act was repealed by Congress in 1976.

Federal Reality

Today, federal lands are overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The BLM is responsible for 16 million acres owned by the federal government. None of this land is given away. Because some of the land is not co-located with other land, the land is sometimes sold. Whenever federal land is sold, it is sold at fair market value. Do not fall for ads claiming that free government land is available or that government land will be sold for a very low per-acre price. These offers typically require that you pay for a list of land or for access and the possibility of free land is not real.

Local “Free Land”

While there is no federal free land available, some states, communities and individuals have offered “free land” in the past. In particular, in the past decade, specific communities in Kansas and Minnesota offered home lots for free.

These were limited-time offers and came with several specific requirements. The land was offered by communities with declining populations to entice new citizens. You can search online for offers, but keep in mind that it is rare and you should never pay any fees for lists.

How to Get Free Land

If a community has a free land offer, you typically will be required to commit in writing to building a home on the free land within 12 months. Additionally, you will be required to build a house that meets local specifications as to size (a 1,200-square-foot minimum is typical) and quality, meaning no trailer homes. The communities or developers offering the land will check your credit score to ensure you can qualify for financing to build your home. You might have to interview with local civic leaders as well.

Pitfalls

Anytime anything is offered for free, you should look out for scams. As outlined above, even so-called “free land” offers come with a variety of requirements - some very costly - and long-term commitments.

A good rule of thumb regarding free land offers is if you are asked to put any money up front before seeing all details of the free land offer, it is an offer you should avoid. This is clearly the case if you are required to put down a significant “security deposit” to be refunded when you take possession of the land. But it also is the case even if you are required to pay a few dollars for a list of free land.

blog comments powered by Disqus