Whether we're planning a remote vacation home or looking to put a manufactured home some place peaceful, a lot of us dream of finding a good deal on a chunk of land where the neighbors are few and far between. One of the things I've realized is that the Internet only gets you so far. (I have this fantasy of buying a few acres in Eastern Washington with an old barn that I can rennovate and turn into my dream home). You can browse sites like realtor.com but all you're going to find is stuff that's been listed on the MLS or master listing service by a realtor. I don't pretend to be an expert on this stuff, but I know you're not going to get much of a "deal" if a realtor is involved. At the best, you'll pay the appraised value of the land plus the broker's commission. This isn't exactly a horrible way to go (it's how most of us buy houses anyway), but for rural land purchases, you might find the property of your dreams in other ways. There's a lot of land out there that never gets listed on the MLS.
Ralph Turner, who wrote Country Property Dirt Cheap: How I Found My Piece of Inexpensive Rural Land, has the following suggestions for finding rural land without using a broker:
- Drive down country roads looking for abandoned or neglected farmsteads (get a plat map and/or visit the town courthouse to find out who owns it). If no one is using the property, the owner might be willing to sell.
- Rent property in the area and let people know you're looking for land.
- Ask the bank if it has any foreclosed pieces of property for sale.
- Go to land auctions.
- Find out if surplus government land is available for sale in the area.
- Read classified advertisements for small town papers, especially those that cater to rural/farming communities.
- Place your own advertisement in the classifieds section of those papers, specifying what you're looking for.
- Go to auctions (not just land auctions but those targeting local farmers, i.e. livestock, farm machinery auctions) and ask people if they know anyone who has land for sale.
- Post "land wanted" fliers in establishments where the locals frequent.
I hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!