I was reading an article the other day about this billionaire media mogul named John Malone who recently overtook Ted Turner as the nation’s largest land owner. His most recent acquisition of Bull Ranch in New Mexico brought his total holdings to more than 2.2 million acres (for your reference, that’s just slightly bigger than my apartment).
People have long been skeptical of the two investors’ thirst for land. The article suggests that some have feared they may be planning to create a huge wildlife refuge (the horror!), while others have guessed that it might be water rights the two men are after, since it is one of the rarest commodities in the West.
Although Malone gives a different answer telling the Land Report, “now is the time to buy land, because of low borrowing costs and low prices.” He added that land “is a pretty decent hedge on the devaluation of currency.”
He makes a good point. They certainly aren’t making any more land and it’s one of those commodities we are almost definitely going to need more of in the coming years; especially with the human population about to top seven billion later this week.
Land is expensive though. And I don’t imagine you have millions of dollars to invest, so we thought it would be a fun experiment to see if it was possible to buy a plot of land for less than $100. We figured that was more in the realm of what we and our readers could afford.
We scoured the Web, newspaper classifieds, and internet forums to see if anyone was willing to sell us a plot of land for less than $100. And lo’ and behold we found success in the most ridiculous place…. Ebay.com.
Ebay has long been a place for people to sell their weird and outlandish goods so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised people are selling small tracts of land for mere pennies. Most of the plots selling for less than $100 are probably not worth much, but it makes you think – if Manifest Destiny is still alive and kicking, is it possible that 1/2 acre of land in the Utah boonies might be worth something someday? If you can buy property below market value, surely Walmart will pay you double for it someday when they run out of room for Supercenters.:)
The auctions are only for domestic plots though, so those of you with dreams of buying overseas investment property will have to go through a more traditional route.
A few tips before you buy…
1. Make sure you read all the details of the auction. Are there back taxes? Are there any liens on the property? What are the closing fees? I also found several auctions where the winning bid was merely a down payment on a much larger sale price, so you need to be sure your bid is the final sales price.
2. One of the reasons a lot of people sell their land so cheaply is that there are yearly property taxes to worry about. The amount of tax you’ll need to pay is assessed based off of the appraised value of the land. If you’re land is only worth a few thousand dollars, than the taxes may only be $30 or so a year. Regardless, you need to find out exactly what you’re yearly expenses are going to be before making a bid.
3. Once you’ve paid for your auction, make sure you get your hands on the deed. If the seller is unable to produce a deed, than you need to contact Paypal to have the transaction reversed immediately.
4. Wait it out. Presumably, there isn’t going to be any interest in your land now, but buying land is a long-term investment.