Whether you want to start a family farm or build a home with built-in privacy, a plot of land can be the perfect solution. Although you may already know some of the details involved in buying a home, learning to buy land cheap is a totally different beast.
Table of contents
Want to learn the ins and outs to start your journey to land ownership? Here’s what you should know about buying land.
How to buy land cheap
Whatever your reasons for purchasing land, here are the steps you’ll need to take.
1. Do your research to find the right spot
The ‘right spot’ will vary widely based on your unique goals.
For example, let’s say you want to create a family farm. In that case, you’d need to consider the soil type based on the type of crop you wish to grow.
Additionally, you should think about the acres of land you’ll need to create a financially viable farming operation. Plus, what water sources are available on the plot of land in question.
But if you are planning to build a house on a piece of land, the factors you’ll need to take into consideration are very different. A few things to keep in mind are the property’s utilities hookups, road access, and also the number of trees on the property.
Although it could be easy to overlook the importance of the number of trees on a lot, a single tree can cost hundreds of dollars to remove. With that, it is an important factor to consider if you are planning to build real estate on this lot.
Details to consider before purchase
As you do your research about a particular property, don’t overlook the small details. The upfront homework will save you many headaches in the future. After all, you want to know exactly what you are getting yourself into when you move forward with a land purchase.
Other things you want to consider are property taxes, property boundaries, proximity to national parks or cities, and other important details.
It can be exciting to dive right into a property. But an important part of learning how to buy land cheap is learning how to do your due diligence on any potential property before making an offer.
2. Know how to pay for land
Whether or not you have a particular piece of land in mind, it is important to work out how you plan to pay for the land.
Pay in cash
One of the most popular strategies when buying land is to pay in cash. Unfortunately, many lenders consider a vacant piece of land more of a risk than if you were only trying to figure out how to save up for a house and buy one.
And with that higher risk, lenders will also provide less favorable terms to borrowers, leading to a higher interest rate than you want to pay.
Bank or credit union
Of course, not everyone can afford to pay for an entire property purchase in cash. And that’s okay! There are other options.
For example, a bank or credit union may be willing to facilitate a land loan.
The terms of the down payment and amount of years for the loan can vary.
Another popular way to fund land purchases is through the USDA loan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides these loans to borrowers that intend to build their private residence on the land.
As a government program intended to promote rural community development, these loans are fairly accessible with minimal credit score requirements.
The catch with USDA loans is that not every plot of land will qualify. To see if the area you are interested in qualifies for USDA loans, explore your options on their interactive map.
A final option to facilitate your land purchase is seller financing. Although this is not an option in all situations, it can be a good opportunity if the seller is motivated to complete the property sale quickly.
Seller financing can come with risks for both parties. With that, it is a smart idea to get an attorney involved to finalize the terms of the deal in writing.
Finding the right place to buy land takes a good amount of time. Your decision may take months so be prepared for the time it takes. It's also important to remember that there are many options for paying for or financing land. e.g. paying in cash, leveraging banks or credit unions, U.S Department of Agriculture loans, seller financing, and more.
Where is the best state to buy land?
Now that you have a better understanding of what it takes to buy land cheap, where should you buy it? Is there a best state to buy land? The answer will vary dramatically based on your unique situation and will depend on your particular wants.
Although some states tend to have higher prices for land, some parts of the United States are more affordable. Here's a list of some of the cheap states to buy land, according to Zippia:
The average price for an acre of land in Wyoming (WY) is $1,558, making it the cheapest option for buying land. The state is well known for its national parks, which is a positive if you love nature.
2. New Mexico
New Mexico (NM) has plenty of places where you can buy land for cheap prices, with an acre costing $1,931 on average.
Compass Land USA explains that the cheapest counties include Torrance County, Luna County, and Valencia County, among others. New Mexico is home to the city of Albuquerque, as well as many outdoor spaces.
Nevada (NV) has some of the least expensive lands, with the average being about $2,116 an acre. If you enjoy hot weather in the summer and deserts, this can be a good place to buy.
4. South Dakota
South Dakota (SD) costs only $2,135 per acre on average. It's one of the best places to look for land if you want to find the cheapest prices. It's also a great place to see sights like Mount Rushmore and state parks.
Montana (MT) is a great place to buy land if you're looking for open spaces and plenty of wildlife. The average price for an acre is $2,283.
Although they didn't make the top 5, some other states that have relatively good prices for parcels of land include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho.
In contrast, some of the most expensive states to buy are New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, and New York, among others. Though it is worth noting that you may be able to find affordable land in some of these states, depending on the location.
Tips when deciding where to buy
Sometimes it isn't about wanting to buy land cheap. Though you can still look for a good deal! Here are other factors to consider in your search.
Determine the type of land you want and the climate
To start with, you need to decide what type of land you want. Do you want a beachfront lot or a mountainside abode?
Consider in which type of climate you would prefer to purchase the land. Are you looking for an arid plot in the desert? Or a tropical location near the beach?
This will determine what part of the country you consider when choosing land. Start listening to yourself and consider what is important to you before buying.
Consider how you will use the land
Additionally, you should nail down what you want to use the land for.
Do you plan to build a residence on it? Or are you simply planning to use the vacant land for farming, hunting, fishing, camping, or some other outdoor activity? The answer will dramatically impact the type of lots that will work for your situation.
If you are planning to build a home, the lot needs to be buildable. Rethink Rural explains that you'll need a soil test to see how well it absorbs water, as well as have the ability to build an access road. In addition, consider easements, issues with water, and any ordinances.
Research any county restrictions
Look into the restrictions surrounding the property. Depending on the county, you may run into zoning issues that could prohibit your intended use.
Additionally, consider any hazards in the area that could affect the safety of a potential building.
For example, a flood-prone lot is likely not the best candidate for a primary residence. When you want to buy land cheap, this point is really important.
Factor in the costs
Finally, consider the costs associated with your intended use. Although you may be able to afford the land, it is important to look beyond the start-up costs of the cheapest land.
If you plan to build a home, map out those costs ahead of time to encourage better budgeting and be prepared. If you plan to start a farm, don’t forget to factor in the equipment costs associated with that choice.
How to shop around for land
Ready to start shopping for the best state to buy land? Here are some places to start your search:
On Landandfarm.com you’ll find farms, ranches, residential lots, and recreational plots on this site.
Landwatch.com you’ll find farms, ranches, homesites, hunting land, and more available through this site.
Zillow.com (for lots)
On Zillow, you can choose to search only for residential lots through the filtering feature with Zillow. This site is especially useful if you want to build a home on your lot.
Is land a smart investment decision?
Yes, land can be a smart choice, but it depends on individual factors. If you have the money, know what you'll do with the land, and are able to devote the time and energy necessary, then yes, it can be a good decision.
The importance of savings and preparation cannot be overlooked with this.
How much does land cost?
Land varies extremely for an acre, depending on where you buy. The location you choose will determine the price.
Is it better to buy land based on cost or preference?
You should actually think about both of these things when buying. Try to get a good deal, but also buy land that you want in a location you like. Don't only consider the cheapest place.
More articles related to buying land cheap
Leverage these tips on how to buy land cheap!
If you want to buy land cheap, you now know that it's a bit more nuanced than buying a home. Luckily, the perfect plot of land is out there waiting for you to make your move.
But remember to go through a financial planning process first. Consider taking one of our free courses to help you create a financial foundation that will help you move forward with this next step confidently