9 Tips for Buying Property With Little or No Money

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
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 and 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.


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!

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If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Facebook which is updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.  You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ and purchase my book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage from Amazon.

Bargain Bin: In addition to FJ Bohan’s books, here are some items to consider in your quest to be a modern, 21st century homesteader.

Barbed Wire, Barricades, and Bunkers: The Free Citizen’s Guide to Fortifying the Home Retreat: The title says it all. This is a guide to readying your home retreat for any scenario.  It includes proven designs for fortified structures that can be adapted them to accommodate your personal defense plan.

Emergency Air for Shelter-In-Place Preppers and Home Built Bunkers:  This books offers a reasonable solution for assembling  an affordable air filtration system.

Living on the Edge: A Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency: When it comes to survival, one size definitely does not fit all. That’s exactly what author F. J. Bohan discovered when he and his family set out on a quest for self-sufficiency, a journey that has lasted more than 17 years.

Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of Paracord for very affordably. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.

US Forge 400 Welding Gloves Lined Leather: These well-priced gloves provide complete heat and burn protection. They are made of soft and supple top grain leather for comfort and pliability, plus they have an internal liner gives more comfort and durability. These will keep you hands and arms safe while cooking outdoors over an open fire.

Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: This purchase changed the way I cook. I use my cast iron cookware for everything from burgers, to bacon and eggs, to biscuits. Be sure to select the Value pack Skillet with Silicone Handle which is less money and a better deal.  Need help with cast iron?  Read 7 Tips for Cast Iron Mavens or Soon-To-Be Mavens.

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 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.


Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

New this month is the Farmers Market Vegetable Combofor 79.99. This is a 51% (wow!) discount off of normal pricing.  This assortment includes 6 #10 tins of veggies:  broccoli, green peas, tomato chunks, spinach, green beans, and zucchini pieces.

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It is no secret that with the cost of fresh vegetables, I have been using freeze dried in my day-to-day meal planning.  It makes it easy to throw together a soup and there is no waste. Until you garden kicks in and you have your own home-canned goods, this is definitely the way to go.

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials


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46 Responses to “9 Tips for Buying Property With Little or No Money”

  1. Hello dear souls, I have many lots for sell on the Southern Oregon Coast that include a shipping container home, 7 years supply of food; rice, beans, wheat, corn and a water supply with optional electricity. This all costs money. Gaye’s article suggests that 500 is a good amount for to entice sellers to lock up their property for months. I can say that each lot I get ready to sell cost me about 10,000. There is no way I will look at someone offering only 500 as an earnest money deposit. I carry the financing on each lot and offer good terms with a 15k down payment. I don’t use real estate agents as they want 10 % commission on land that does not fit into the Fannie May/Freddie Mac guidelines. But any property that does will cost much more… (a shipping container home does not fit). In addition, no seller should allow unlimited access to property for 500. Far too many people use the Landlord/tenant laws to lock up the property for months. The eviction costs are several thousand. I have actually been told that I don’t own the land even though I pay the taxes on it, but instead it is owned by mother earth and it belongs to us all. I have compassion for this view and believe we all have a duty to protect this earth but I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars purchasing the land, improving it and paying the taxes. Where were my friends of the earth then? My point in all of this is that 500 is not a reasonable enticement. Best wishes to all my fellow pilgrims on this spinning ball we call earth……or flat plain for those of the flat earth society.

  2. It really helped when you talked about the importance of reviewing any contract when buying a house. I can see that doing this can help you make sure all the points are in order and that you agree with all the term involved in the purchase. Personally, I would want to make sure I find a real estate agent that is on my side in order to get the best deal I can and avoid having to do the paperwork myself since I have no patience for it.

  3. I like your comment to ask for unlimited access to the property before closing. I’m sure that if you’re planning to buy vacant land this would be a great opportunity to let a land surveyor check out your potential purchase for you. I’m sure most landowners wouldn’t mind either, since it would be difficult for you to damage an empty piece of land.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. I’m in a real bind. I woke up feeling hopeless until I read this. Maybe all is not lost for me. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. 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!!

  10. 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…

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