How to Buy Federal Land

This historic lighthouse was recently up for auction at $15,000.

Nearly 30 percent of the land in the United States is federally owned (see References). Public lands rarely go up for sale, but when they do it's an opportunity to obtain useful property at a very fair price.

Step 1

Go to https://extportal.pbs.gsa.gov/ResourceCenter/PRHomePage/loadPRHomePage.do?type=full. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) provides listings and sales of government assets no longer considered useful to the government. This page lists all the locations with available real estate.

Step 2

Click on the town or city of your choice and find a listing that fits your needs. Read all the restrictions and requirements to make sure you're eligible to bid on the property.

Step 3

Get in touch with the "point of contact" agent whose information is posted on the property listing. Give the agent your full name, contact information, the GSA Control Number of the property and any other necessary information. If you're eligible, you'll be invited to bid.

Step 4

Follow the agent's instructions to bid on the property. If your bid wins, the land is yours.

Step 5

Determine the state in which you want to buy land.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages protected lands. BLM land is generally unimproved (no roads or services) and is sold at fair market value, determined by government research. Listings are managed by each state individually. As of 2009, most BLM land sales took place in Nevada, but there are opportunities around the country.

Step 6

Go to http://www.blm.gov and find information on your state of choice. Look for the FLTFA (Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act) contact for your state.

Step 7

Contact the FLTFA office and let them know you're an interested buyer. They will give you information on listings and opportunities in your state.

Tip

Do your research. Although the days of land sales at $5 an acre are past, there are great deals to be had. If you're flexible with your location and willing to wait and comb through listings, you'll find excellent property values.

Purchasing land bordering national forests or protected areas means not only will you not have neighbors, but you'll also be contacted first if adjacent lands go up for sale in the future.

Warning

Buying remote properties with no services isn't for everyone. If you don't have the capacity to build or live sustainably, you may not be able to use land with no water or roads.

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