5 Helpful Tips on How to Buy Cheap Land for Sale

jar with coins for house fund


Land costs can often stop aspiring land owners from pursuing their dreams. When having a limited budget, you might think the best option is to simply wait for better times or accept defective land — perhaps you can only get a property adjacent to a landfill or without deeded access to get an affordable deal.  

Well, you’d be happy to hear that’s not true. In fact, there are many options for finding cheap land for sale. So, before you start frantically browsing for “cheap land for sale near me,” join us as we explore the top tips that can help you in the process. 

Have A County Ownership Plat Book

Counties make real estate ownership data available to private mapping companies that create maps showing land ownership in the area. These books usually include property boundaries, owner names, acreage, roads, and township section numbers. For land seekers, plat maps are a must-have tool. They show how the desired property is divided, its boundaries, and all surrounding property such as other houses, residential land, streets, and any public and recreational space, such as parks and playgrounds.  

Plat maps may also confirm various features and data about the lands for sale in question, such as whether the property is in a flood zone, the direction each side of the plot faces, any restricted portions of the property, and more. 

You can find a county ownership plat book for sale in one of the county courthouse offices, with affordable prices that range from $25 to $80. You might also be able to find the entire book online sometimes, so look into it before purchasing a physical copy.

Check Maps

Gone are the days when you had to buy paper maps. Luckily, nowadays, there are numerous types of maps you can use in your hunt for cheap land for sale. They often come with a powerful search tool, advanced filtering and tagging. One example is the county highway map. Most states provide county maps generated by their respective Departments of Transportation on the internet. In addition to roads, towns, and cities, many of them — especially those from more rural states —display the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) grid. This makes them an excellent spot to begin your search for any given property.  

Another option is the U.S.G.S. 7.5-minute topography maps. These maps are an integral tool of the real estate sector as they are accurate, insightful, and widely available. Google Earth is also an effective tool; you have access to aerial photography of the entire world, allowing you to zoom in and out and fly from one location to the next. You can even use GE to measure property accurately and draw borders with a drawing tool. For example, you can work with a flat depiction of land as seen from above or tilt the screen to get a more realistic area view.  

Visit the County Assessor’s Office

The County Assessor’s Office keeps track of who owns what land in the county to assess property taxes. So, it can help you get the names and addresses of all landowners in your region of interest who have out-of-area addresses. 

It’s helpful to divide your territory into four or five-mile square portions. Pick the ones you’re interested in using on your topography map, write down the number, township, and range, then take that information to the assessor’s office. Return to your maps and check how many of the properties look to suit your broad criteria once you have the names and addresses of each out-of-area owner of vacant land in the area where you want to buy a property. 

If your land requirements are specific, you’ll have to put in more effort than if they’re more general. For example, if frontage on a stream is a non-negotiable feature for you, you’ll want to focus on locating streams as they intersect properties in the plat book. You’ll be able to immediately rule out a few of your options using the maps. Likewise, this will help narrow down your choices and pick the properties you want to see in person. When you do, bring a topographic map and a compass, and avoid trespassing on adjoining properties, as their owners may be closer than the properties you’re looking at.

Look for FSBO Properties

When looking to find a cheap plot of land, your first instinct might be to call a real estate agent to assist you. However, searching for “cheap land for sale near me by owner” should be one of your priorities.

Buying FSBO land means you’ll save on real estate commission, which is typically between 4% and 6%. This saves you anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 for every $100,000 in the land price. When you factor in the savings, you might be able to purchase the plot for a lower price than you would otherwise. As a result, you may either buy bigger acreage for sale or acquire the same property size you want for less money. 

Moreover, the negotiation process is considerably more manageable when buying land from a private seller. In a typical transaction, you must go via the real estate agent. You should first make an offer, which is subsequently communicated to the vendor. The seller can then counteroffer, and the request will go back and forth between both real estate agents before you hear it. This can cause the process to take much longer than it needs to. However, by immediately negotiating with the seller face-to-face, you can come up with a bargain that works for both sides equally.

Opt For the Rent-to-Own Model

This approach is more common for homes, but it can also be employed on the vacant estate for sale. With this option, a percentage of the rent is put into purchasing the property in the future. This is usually a smaller sum of money, about a hundred dollars. As a result, you are legally regarded as a tenant rather than a buyer. 

Moreover, you’ll have the opportunity to try out the land and get a feel for the neighborhood before buying. At the same time, you might be able to strike a better deal with the owner and set money aside for a down payment when the time comes. 

Final Thoughts

Purchasing cheap land is always a wise decision. It’s a long-lasting investment property and an important asset. It will grow in value over time and give you a great deal of happiness, a lot of fun, and even business opportunities. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Discount Lots — there are tons of affordable land listings waiting for you!

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