Cities and counties including Buffalo, Minnesota; several counties in northwest North Dakota; and Kansas have homestead programs in which you can receive free land. Some cities also offer free land to businesses.
In some cases, a city or county will abate your property taxes for a specified period. Is there a catch? Usually, there is.
These programs may require that you build your primary home on the free land within a specified time deadline. Some homestead programs require that the land you are homesteading be within a specific school district.
Additionally, you must usually qualify for a home loan (if you aren’t paying the full cost of building your home).
- Obtain a copy of your credit report from at least one major credit-reporting agency. Dispute any derogatory listings that are incorrect. Correcting a credit-report entry can take up to 30 days.
- Locate free-land homestead programs. See Resources for the websites for some of these homestead programs.
- Contact a lender in the city or county where you will be applying for a homestead and pre-qualify for a home loan sufficient to allow you to build your home on the free land.
- Execute a written homestead agreement with the city or county where the homestead property is located.
- Meet all of the conditions outlined by the respective city or county. You will then be required to sign a homestead agreement. Most homestead programs require that you build your house within 12 months from the date of executing the homestead agreement. There may be additional requirements; for example, the home value may be need to be over a certain price, or the house may have a minimum square footage.
- Start construction of your house within the requisite time period. Usually, the time period for starting or finalizing construction of your home is between six months and one year.
- Move in and start enjoying your new free land and new home.
If you breach the homestead agreement, you may be required to leave your house as well as suffering financially. One ramification can include having to pay previously abated property taxes.