How to Find Cheap Land for Sale in the Western US

Western land is inviting to many buyers.
Western land is inviting to many buyers. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

The migrating wave that brought groups of Americans from east to west along the Oregon trail still continues, in a sense, as Americans continue to find the west inviting. The book, "Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country," points to the '70s as the starting point for a renewed trend to move away from urban living and find respite in land plots rather than city lots. The western U.S. still has a lot of open land to offer, and some of it is cheaper than the rest.

Isolate your market. The western U.S. is a large place, with real estate markets varying widely. The cost of five wooden acres in Northern California could be significantly higher than a similar plot in southern Oregon, even though it's only a few hundred miles away. Determine where you want your land, and for what purpose.

Reach out to your markets. Find a real estate agent by contacting the Chamber of Commerce closest to your preferred location or identify the local community newspaper and search the advertisements for agents. In these local papers, many of which have print and online editions, you may find foreclosure notices and auction sales, offering excellent possibilities for finding cheap land.

Compare your chosen markets. If one land plot in one market is cheaper than a similar plot in another one, ask why. Cheap doesn't necessarily mean you'll get what you pay for. If you believe a plot sounds worthy, make a note of its price and features. Consult a local real estate agent who has a deeper knowledge of the area.

Do research. Investigate your plots of interest. If you have the finances and time for it, plan a trip to the property and make a personal investigation. Search public records at the area's city hall and look for any history relative to the land. The land may be available for a cheap price, but may cost you more as time progresses, depending on your intended use.

Ask questions -- talk with neighbors, local business people, contractors, even the local bartender. How much are property taxes? Does the state have sales tax? If you intend to build on the land, how much would fees and cost of materials be in the area?

Tips & Warnings

  • If making an investigative visit to property, travel during the off-peak travel times of April through mid-June and September through November. Reducing travel costs will make your land purchase even cheaper.

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  • “Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country”; Les Scher, Carol Scher; 2000
  • "Kipling's Personal Finance"; Timed Travel; Jane Bennett Clark; April 2003
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