9 Tips for Buying Property With Little or No Money

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Many folks, whether Preppers or not, dream of having their own special patch of land where they can settle in, raise a family, grow a garden, and simply take joy in knowing that the earth they stand on is all theirs.  Whether you dream of homesteading as I do, or merely want to homestead in place, achieving that dream can seem daunting, if not impossible, if cash is short.

Today I hope to help you out make that dream come true with some tips for buying property when money is scarce.  Now to be honest, these are not my tips but those shared by F.J. Bohan in his book, Living on the Edge.  I love this little book and use it to gain motivation and inspiration as I think about my own journey to self-sufficiency.

Tips for Buying Property With Little or No Money - Backdoor Survival

The Arizona Cabin Built on Dirt-Cheap Property

Last month I contacted FJ and his publisher, Paladin Press for permission to share his property-buying tips.  And so, today with their permission, I outline 9 tips for purchasing property with little or no money.

Property-Buying Tips When Money is Scarce

Here are some tips to follow for buying property with little or no money when you are ready to start looking for your piece of ground.

1.  Have some money. I know this sounds contradictory, but you really are not buying with little or no money. You are buying with little or no money all at once. The term earnest money refers to the part of the deposit/down payment you give with the offer. It says to the seller, “Hey, I am serious about want ing this property.” You need to have this. Give up a summer of eating out at your favorite restaurant, and you’ll have $500 in no time. Anything less than $500 looks like you are dealing from a weak position; anything more makes you look too eager.

2.  Look for listings that have been on the market for a long time. A seller who has not sold his property after a year or more on the market is more likely to be creative with you than the seller whose property was listed last week.

3.  Look for OWC (owner will carry) or OMC (owner may carry) in the listing. Either way, this means that you will not have to go through a bank. If the seller has done this before, he may not even require a credit check. He will be holding the first deed of trust on the property, and that’s all he really needs. If you default, he is first in line to get the property back.

4.  Ask for a delayed closing. The worst thing the seller can say is no, but he may be willing to delay closing past the typical 30–60 days. Any amount of time he delays is more time for you to get the rest of the funds you need to close. Time really is money. Also, use this time to search for the property lines and corners. If you can find the pins at all the corners, you may not want the added expense of a survey.

5.  Ask for unlimited access to the property before closing. This tactic usually works well with raw land, but don’t expect it to work with a house or cabin on the property. Unlimited access will allow you to camp out on the property while you save more money for closing.

6. If the property has a cabin or a house on it that is unoccupied, ask the seller to rent it to you for six months and have 80 percent of the rent go toward the down payment. This tactic has also worked for me when purchasing houses. In the past, I have also negotiated for 100 percent of the rent for six months to be applied toward the down payment. That’s like living rent free for six months!

7.  Know what you are willing to compromise on but ask for it all. You never know — you just might get it.

8.  Remember the statute of frauds. Simply put, this legal principle means that anything and everything you think is a part of the deal must be in writing and signed on the offer/contract. If it isn’t in writing, it means nothing. I have had dealings with both honest and dishonest real estate agents. Trust none of them. Even an honest agent can make a mistake that ends up costing you. Have an outline of your offer with all the points of concern written out and double-checked before you make your offer.

9.  Review the contract to be sure it covers all these points before you sign it.

About FJ Bohan

In addition to Living on the Edge, some of you may remember F.J. as the author of Barbed Wire, Barricades, and Bunkers Survival Friday: Water Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink   Backdoor Survivaland Emergency Air: for Shelter-in-Place Preppers and Home-Built Bunkers, both of which were featured in Backdoor Survival Book Festivals here and here.

In addition, he is the author of Living on the Edge: A Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency, a book that memorializes his family’s 17 year adventure that included everything from living in a tent to homesteading in the desert. He is also a valued friend of Backdoor Survival and a huge supporter of become prepared in a sane and reasonable manner.

THE FINAL WORD

As FJ says in his book, many homesteaders and survivalists begin their journeys in far better financial condition than he did. When his family arrived in Arizona, they had $500 in savings and a tent they called home. He goes on to say that it is much more comfortable to search for land that you can live on when you have a good job and a permanent home.

In his case, he thought he would have that luxury when he first started dreaming of becoming self-sufficient, but things did not quote work out as planned.

Regardless of your personal financial situation, having a dream of owning land is a goal worth attaining.  Whether that patch of land is in the middle of a suburb or along a remote country road makes to matter.  It is having the dream and the goal is what counts.

And fulfilling that dream?  Yes, that makes the struggle and the journey worth it.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of  Getting Prepared Month 10: Practice Going Off Grid   Backdoor SurvivalParacord for about $8. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.

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Ticket To Ride: The is my favorite board game, bare none.  Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people.  This is worth the splurge.

Gerber Gator Combo Axe II: This Gerber axe and saw combo is useful around the yard (or the farm or the ranch) for all sorts or medium to light duty tasks.  The rigid part of the axe handle is glass-filled nylon for a rugged construction and light weight.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the $20 price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price.  Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant.  I can not recommend these enough.

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Comments

9 Tips for Buying Property With Little or No Money — 26 Comments

  1. As usual I’am Enjoying Your Website/Newsletter. You are such a big help with keeping things calm as well as helping Preppers. You have saved me money, time and nerves with my prepping. I Really hope that everyone I have told about your site. Signed up. As well as Voted too 😉 Keep up the Great Work, Many Blessings to you.
    Fran and Friends

  2. Another way to get land for little or nothing is to purchase land with marketable timber. My uncle did this in Alabama. The timber that was selectively harvested brought the cost of their 20 acres down to $1500.

  3. As much as people do not want to deal with banks, sometimes there may be no option…IF you want to get what you want. The USDA has low income/rural development loan programs. Do not over look this! I bought my home in 2012 with zero down through that program. If you have next to nothing this can help you a lot.

    • Carl, I also used the USDA Rural Housing grant nearly five years ago. Some people might be surprise that they qualify for “low income”, as the maximum income a family can make can be considered well into middle income for some areas. Also, what property is considered ‘rural’ is also surprising. I never thought I’d be able to afford a house (ie. 20% down), and without this program, I wouldn’t have.

    • Well, they turned me down because I do not make enough on SS disability to qualify….$1200 per month. So what does a person with even lower income than the USDA approves do?

  4. The worst part of this is, this is a terrible time to buy property. In fact, any time since 1998 has been a terrible time to buy property. I imagine quite a few people are simply waiting for real estate to crash again once more before buying, ah-hem, I mean, becoming “home-owing debt donkeys”, as they say at TheHousingBubbleBlog.com

    I guess it just depends on a person’s outlook and position?

    Anyway, I don’t get this: “Anything less than $500 looks like you are dealing from a weak position; anything more makes you look too eager.”

    If you have a larger downpayment you get better rates. How is that being “too eager”?

    • The idea is “buying property with little or no money”. If you have a lot of down payment you don’t really need this advice. You missed the premise of the article. Anyone with a lot of money for a down payment can indeed get a better rate from the bank. This article is for those who DO NOT have a lot of money.

      • Dear, Anne Narkey. I didn’t miss the premise, your answer does not explain how having more money for a down payment is, “too eager”.

        • Helot, you are thinking from the point of view of getting a normal bank loan. When you get a loan, a higher down payment is advantageous. However this article addresses negotiating directly with a seller to hold the note aka owner financing. In my experience, most buyers who ask sellers to do owner financing don’t have much money hence the reason they are asking for those terms. If the buyer offers a large down payment initially they could come off as “too eager” thus hurting themselves in price negotiations because the seller will a)think they have money to pay more for the property or b)have an emotional attachment to the property meaning the buyers are willing to pay whatever it takes or both. An experienced agent would pick up on that immediately as well. Also if you have a large down payment then the seller will wonder why you couldn’t just get a bank loan instead of asking for him/her to hold the note. Hope that makes sense and clarifies for you.

        • Hi Helot, you did miss the point. Earnest money is not down payment money. Earnest money is used as a deposit, usually given with a signed offer, which in most states must be held in an escrow account and returned if your offer is refused. Down payment is money that is used to secure a loan and insures for the benefit of the lender that the buyers interest (skin in the game) is sufficient to prevent them from walking out on the loan.

  5. Everyone would be well advised to keep in mind that all of these tips (and reader comments for that matter), are case specific. The area of the country, the amount of land being purchased, the credit worthiness of the buyer, the desperation (or lack thereof) of the seller, and state specific real estate laws make these generalized tips a starting point.

  6. Food for thought. In preparing for the grid going down we will see many cars and trucks siting abandoned. The gas or diesel fuel gone. All these will have batteries. the owners wont be back to recover for a while so if you use the batteries to provide power for your home it could divert moneys to photocell units and cabling. Leave your address on the car or truck and identify each unit so when the owner shows up they may be returned. left to sit they would discharge and unable to start a car some in just a few months depending on the drain the car puts on the battery’s No car or truck shuts down completely and will drain the battery. Be honest and leave where they can get the battery back. Scavengers will take them anyway. Enough can be obtained to provide power for some time.
    As an electrician I must always stress safety for a charging battery has explosive discharge. adequate ventilation must be maintained. Never let children near batteries. never ever service any electrical device in your bare feet. It takes little more than four milliamps to kill you. Your skin resistance is lowered when sweaty. cement is a grounded surface You are allowed one fatal mistake. no second chances. Safety first If your not sure of what you are doing dont. get someone who does.
    Grampa

  7. Grampa, I like your idea about car batteries. I just wonder if it’s a good idea to leave your address where scavengers will see it. Maybe leave a phone number instead?

  8. Hi –
    My dream has long been to get a nice piece of land somewhere and become as self-sufficient as possible: provide my own garden, fuel, etc. Is 65 too old to chuck the rat-race and seek a quieter, more self-sufficient lifeway? I couldn’t do this years ago as my then-husband was married to his jobs as much as me, lol, but now that I’m on my own maybe time for a change. I’m still physically fit and healthy, thank goodness but don’t have much $$ for a down payment so this article is encouraging.
    Have a good day, everyone.

    • I am the same age so definitely not too old. Just keep the amount of property down to a manageable size with a modestly sized home to match. You do not need 10 acres, or even an acre, to live a quiet, more self-sufficient life.

      I fled the city for good and never looked back. I love the laid back lifestyle away from noise, shopping centers, and traffic.

  9. I am 61 and my wife is 55, I have lived in very rural areas previously and my wife and I are very much looking forward to it again. While my health isn’t what it once was, I feel I am still able, with the help of my wonderful wife, to do the things necessary to sustain that kind of lifestyle. I have no doubt that we will thrive once we get where we are going…

  10. Hello
    My family and I have been actively searching for some deep woods land to get away from it all. We already have goats chickens, etc just waiting on a” fair price” on the land we want so we jjust sit and wait for the right land for us!!

  11. I like what this mentions about saving up a little bit before trying to buy property. I feel like I’m ready to buy a second property, even though I don’t have a lot of available capital. I’ll have to look into saving up enough to feel comfortable with a property purchase.

  12. My family and I just found a property we would like to get. It would be for our horses, so I’m not too worried about getting it surveyed. However, I could use some tips on getting the property. My funds are a bit low right now, but it’s going to sale soon. I think I might be able to try your fourth tip and get a delayed close.

  13. Black Buddha House,
    I am in process of about to purchase a little lot out no where in
    Colorado City and didn’t have no development static on the land. I
    can’t even built on it and agent were nice too sell it back to him
    and workout a deal with him and waived that other’s useful land. I
    am glad we good peoples can workout our differ over little mistake.

    Peoples beware of these con artist people’s out their and do your
    own research online and call or visit the local office county for
    piece of land or lots in your area or state. Also, go to this real
    site for update of property listing, taxes, lien on them….
    http://www.NACO.org…bless you all and take care

  14. We purchased our rural home on land a few years ago and we have been selectively harvesting trees in an effort to be eco friendly while at the same time providing spaces for gardens and outbuildings. It has been a lot of work as we are doing it ourselves with a chainsaw and a split ax. We let our children help stack the wood for winter so they can learn some work ethic. They have also been collecting small rocks to fill some holes in the driveway. We went for a drive through the city and my son saw some children sweeping grass cuttings from a sidewalk and he said, “I didn’t know that kids in the city work too!” We are happy with our new lifestyle and so far the people in town seem very friendly as do our neighbors. Anyone who wishes to go rural should definitely do so as the crime rate out here is virtually non existent. I haven’t felt the need to buy a membership at a fitness center as there is plenty of work outside to keep me in shape. We are in Central New York and so we do remember to check for ticks and shower when we come in. Happy hunting!

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