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Prepper Real Estate: How to Buy Land with No Money Saved

Avatar for James Walton James Walton  |  Updated: February 11, 2019
Prepper Real Estate: How to Buy Land with No Money Saved

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You probably have considered buying acreage and thought it well out of your reach financially. Well, that would put you in a boat with many others who think that owning raw land is only for the rich. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s talk about how you can become a landowner with no money saved.

how to buy land with no money saved

Why Preppers Want to Buy Land

I have heard people say that homesteading is the true expression of a prepper’s concerns and motivations. That living up high or far from those who might one day be desperate in a serious disaster is the ultimate answer.

Eh. It really depends on the person.

Still, having a good piece of land sets you up with freedoms that most other people do not have, particularly in a suburban sprawl.

Skill Work

If you are currently living in a tight-knit neighborhood in suburbia, doing things like shooting arrows, making bow drill fires and building wilderness shelters might bet you some strange looks. If you get into things like trapping, you will likely get animal control called.

You are also limited in how well you can get to know the natural world. Great wild edibles like dandelion, wood sorrel, and common plantain are probably in your yard but beyond that, you could struggle to get to know different species of trees and wild edibles.

If you have your own plot of wooded land, you can do most anything you like on it, if it’s big enough. You can even manage it to have the plant and tree species that you prefer for survival needs.


Sometimes its just nice to go take a camping trip. It doesn’t have to be about survival skills or methods, it doesn’t have to be about anything but getting out and enjoying nature. During peak camping season you might struggle to reserve a campsite at the more popular locations.

This won’t be the case if you have your own plot of land.

Bugout Location

The bugout is hardly about a bag or a location on its own. Its one of the most misunderstood skills in all of prepping. A well thought-out and practiced bugout plan is something that you should be very proud of. It takes a lot of thought and a lot of work.

All that said, one of the first things to consider is that bugout location. Where is the goal? If you own land that means you are going to have access to that location without question.

Bunker Location

Though the bunker has been synonymous with preppers the reality is that most of us don’t have the money or the space to accommodate a bunker. Furthermore, many preppers want no parts of going into a hole in the ground to escape the dangers above.

Still, if it’s a goal of yours and you have the means, having raw land is the best way to bury a bunker and keep it a secret. It will be near impossible to keep OPSEC in mind while burying one such bunker in your backyard!


By going through the raw land buying process, you might find that you have a knack for finding and buying properties for very little or even no money. This might become a side income or a method of making all your income from buying land.

I am sure you have never thought of yourself as a land merchant, but it can be a great side income or even a new career!

The year before I quit my job and started working freelance in the prepping and survival niche, I was exploring becoming a realtor in raw land. As an outdoorsman, it held a lot of appeal. I spent about 3 months really working hard and learning as much as I could about the business. However, my first sale went sideways, and I decided it might be better to wait for this career.

I was working a full-time job and I started the deal in a hurry and used some methods that the pros did not recommend. I didn’t follow the process and, well, it didn’t work out in my favor. Through that journey, I learned about some interesting ways that people make dirt cheap offers on raw land and walk away with their own land or properties for resale.

To get started you are going to need to understand what tax liens and tax deeds are. So let’s start with that.

Tax Liens

If you don’t pay those horrendous property taxes that come each year, you can incur a tax lien on your property.

A Tax Lien is the first major step the IRS takes against individuals to collect back taxes. A Tax Lien gives the IRS a legal claim to your property as security or payment for your tax debt. It is used to protect the government’s interest in your assets. –

Tax Deeds

If you decide to ignore the tax lien the government can take ownership of your property for not paying those taxes that caused the lien.

A legal document that grants ownership of a property to a government body when the property owner does not pay the taxes due on the property. A tax deed gives the government the authority to sell the property to collect the delinquent taxes and transfer the property to the purchaser. Such sales are called “tax deed sales” and are usually held as auctions where the minimum bid is the amount of back taxes and fees owed. –

The interesting thing about all this tax deed and tax lien business is that our intrusive government will not only take your property if you don’t pay the taxes on it, it will also make your financial woes public to everyone around you.

Just by contacting or visiting your local county treasury you will be able to get a list of tax liens on properties in your area. You can do this for any area, as well. While it might seem a little predatory, you will be able to sit down and really get a grip on who is going to lose their property to the local government.

If capitalizing on another’s misfortune makes you a little queasy, let me give you a little background on how many of these properties wind up in lien status and beyond. Every day people die. We are facing a wave of retiring baby boomers and that the aging population is leaving behind money and property.

Sometimes those who inherit land don’t want it. They may live states away from the land that was given to them. The last thing they want is an annual bill, and some can’t even afford it! They would rather it just go away. This land is often what gets eaten up by these tax deeds.

You can play the middle man and get between the government and the property owner. This comes down to present a cash offer to the owner for that land.

Your Tax Refund

About this time every year, even Americans who don’t save a penny, get a little bump in the finances. It comes in the form of a tax refund. This amount of money varies for every person but with the new tax laws, most everyone should see some sort of a return.

This is how you make your cash offer for that raw land. This is the money you use to go after that special piece of property that someone may just be trying to unload anyway.

Imagine having a burdensome piece of land that you want nothing to do with. Imagine you are letting the taxes pile up and then someone comes along and offers you $500 bucks to take the burden from you. Maybe they owe $200 in back taxes so you walk away with a property for $700! I know there are people who are gonna say:

“Even with a tax return, I don’t have that kind of money!”

Well, offer what you can for that land and maybe they will bite. The worst case scenario is that you go into an offer with no land and you leave with no land. At least you are back where you started.

Tax Deed Auctions

Another great way to get the most out of that tax refund, if you don’t want to make an offer directly to a landowner, is to attend local tax deed auctions.

When the government takes possession of a person’s land, they don’t want to keep it. The last thing they want to do is upkeep a piece of land and not collect taxes on it. So their motivation is to find a new owner of that land. Move it to the highest bidder and get it back on the books as taxable property.

They do this with tax deed auctions. You can get a list of the properties that are going to be auctioned from your local treasury. These auctions happen on varying basis depending on the locality but you can take your tax refund and go bid on some properties.

If you go this route be sure you show up with a set of properties that you already know, from the provided list, to assure you have clear goals and budgets for bidding. You don’t want to come home broke with a new property either! So you have to do some research and set hard limits on your purchase amount.

Researching your Land

Probably the most important part of this whole process is the research you do before contacting an owner or before attending an auction. You have to know what you’re after or else you are just shooting in the dark. Don’t wind up thinking you got a great deal and finding out you bought 5 acres of mosquito-infested swampland abnormally high in radon.

Property Type

If you are in the market for true raw land you are going to be looking for residential/agricultural land or just agricultural. These are the tracts of raw land that you want to buy and will be listed among other types of properties like residential and commercial.

Property Size and Lines

While the paper might say 15 acres you need to what the property lines look like. What is the shape of the property? What if its 15 acres but its only 50 yards wide. Just a pencil-shaped property that is very hard to take advantage of.

Some properties have no road frontage either or access! I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. You have to be aware of that or you might wind up owning one and having to invest in an easement to even get to your property.

Flood Zone

Is your property in the flood plain? A very important and very simple question to answer.


Be sure that your location matches up with your needs. While you might get a great deal on a property that is 200 miles from your home, can you get there in an emergency?


This is one of the trickiest parts of the process and you might need to call the city or county to get more information on a property. A property location is not going to give you the address of a property owner. As we mentioned the property could be in Virginia and the owner might live in California

However, having a direct mailing address to them means you can send an offer for that land.


A piece of property gives you lots of options. Most preppers dream of having a piece of land to call their own. Whether that be the beginnings of a homestead or just a secure place to bugout is up to that person. I think we can all agree that some land is better than no land.

If you find that piece of land and you are closing a deal, remember, without a deed you have nothing. Be sure that when money changes hands there is a deed for that property present, or you trust that it’s coming to you. Without a deed on that property, you don’t own anything.

Contracts can be a big help when you are dealing with property owners. The state will have the proper paperwork if you go the route of tax deeds but buying from individuals will mean that you cover all your basis. Consult a realtor or lawyer to be sure you don’t get taken advantage of.

I hope you are inspired to use this information in this article to get your own piece of heaven. Remember, there are few resources that cannot be reproduced. Raw land is the most precious of them all.

Author’s Bio

James Walton is the host of the I AM Liberty Show ( a podcast about 21st-century freedom. He is a freelance writer in the prepping and survival niche and likes to keep a healthy balance between prepping and enjoying life.

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2 Responses to “Prepper Real Estate: How to Buy Land with No Money Saved”

  1. Here in Arizona, the owner is given 3 years to repay the taxes paid, with interest of course, but they have no rights to the property for a minimum of those 3 years. Arizona also has the most lenient adverse possession laws (squatter’s rights) in the US, and very much in favor of the squatter’s. If you are able to move onto a piece if property and occupy it openly, make improvements on the land, and pay the property taxes, you can legal gain title to the land in as little as 3 years. This is actually how I acquired my current property. The owner had passed away, had no children or relatives that took care of the property or taxes, and I was able to take title to the property in just 4 years. I do however, strongly recommend seeking professional advise from a lawyer if going this route, as there are major differences in the requirements for gaining the title to any property through adverse possession that determine how many years must pass before you can gain title to the property, and generally, you only get one shot in court to request ownership through code of law, or color of law, and it’s vital to know which method you gain residency by.

  2. The tax auctions in my area, if you win the bid for a property, you still don’t own that property. Example: back taxes on a house is $3,000 and your winning bid is $5,000. The behind owners are given a year to pay that money back to you at interest. After that year if they fail to pay, the property is then yours. But during that year, you cannot do anything with that property.

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