How to Find Cheap Land in Oregon?

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How to Find Cheap Land in Oregon?

Bart Waldon

Let's face it - Oregon's a stunner. From misty coastal cliffs to snow-capped peaks, the Beaver State's landscapes have been turning heads for generations. But as more folks catch on to Oregon's charms, land prices have been climbing faster than a mountain goat on espresso. So, is the dream of affordable Oregon land just that - a dream?

Not so fast. While it's true that prime real estate in Portland or Bend might cost you an arm, a leg, and possibly a kidney, there are still deals to be had if you know where to look. This guide is your roadmap to finding those hidden gems - the cheap land that's still out there, waiting for savvy buyers like you.

Before we dive in, let's chew on some numbers. The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development reports that our state's population swelled by 10.6% between 2010 and 2020. That's a lot of new neighbors, and they all need somewhere to live. Meanwhile, the folks over at Oregon State University Extension Service tell us that farmland prices have been on a steady uphill climb, rising about 3.5% each year from 2012 to 2021.

Sounds grim, right? But don't throw in the towel just yet. With a bit of grit, creativity, and insider know-how, you can still stake your claim in the Beaver State without breaking the bank. So grab a cup of your favorite Oregon-roasted coffee, and let's get down to business.

The Lay of the Land: Oregon's Quirky Real Estate Market

Before you start your treasure hunt for cheap land, you need to understand the playing field. Oregon's land market is about as straightforward as a pig on roller skates, so let's break it down:

It's a Geographic Smorgasbord

Oregon's like nature's variety pack. We've got coastline, mountains, valleys, and deserts all crammed into one state. This means land prices are all over the map - literally. While the Willamette Valley might cost you a pretty penny, head east to the high desert, and suddenly your dollars stretch further than a tall tale on a fishing trip.

Urban Growth Boundaries: Oregon's Claim to Fame (or Infamy)

Ever heard of urban growth boundaries (UGBs)? If not, you're in for a treat. Oregon takes its land-use laws seriously - like, really seriously. These UGBs are invisible lines drawn around cities to keep urban sprawl in check. Great for keeping Oregon green, not so great for finding cheap land near Portland. Keep this in mind as you search.

Follow the Money (or Don't)

Like anywhere else, Oregon's economy plays puppet master with land values. Booming job markets and growing populations usually mean higher land prices. But if you're willing to look beyond the economic hotspots, you might just find a bargain.

What Lies Beneath (or Above)

Don't forget to look at what comes with the land. Timber rights, mineral deposits, or water access can jack up a property's value faster than you can say "liquid gold." Sometimes, land that looks cheap might be priced that way for a reason - or it could be an overlooked jackpot.

Your Roadmap to Cheap Oregon Land

Alright, now that you're up to speed on Oregon's land quirks, let's talk strategy. Here's how to uncover those affordable acres:

1. Venture into the Boonies

Sure, Portland's got great food carts, but your dollar goes a lot further if you're willing to trade hipster coffee shops for wide-open spaces. Consider these less-traveled regions:

  • Eastern Oregon: Counties like Lake, Harney, and Malheur. More cows than people, but land prices that won't give you heartburn.
  • Southern Oregon: The less touristy parts of Jackson and Josephine counties. Think gold rush country without the rush.
  • Coast Range: Look inland from the coast. Ocean views are pricey, but a short drive from the beach can save you big.

2. Embrace Your Inner Pioneer: Raw Land

Undeveloped land is usually cheaper than property with a house already on it. Yes, it means more work (hope you like digging septic tanks!), but it's a great way to get your foot in the door of land ownership.

3. Follow the Tax Man

Properties with unpaid taxes can sometimes be snagged at a discount. Check with county tax assessor offices or attend tax lien auctions. But fair warning: do your homework before buying. You don't want to inherit someone else's headaches.

4. Network Like Your Land Depends on It (Because It Does)

Get chummy with local real estate agents, especially ones who specialize in rural properties. They often know about upcoming listings before they hit the market. Bring cookies to their office. Everyone likes the cookie guy.

5. Become One with the Internet

The web is your best friend in your land search. Use sites like Lands of America, LandWatch, and Google Earth can give you a bird's eye view of potential areas. And don't forget to check county assessor websites - they're about as exciting as watching paint dry, but they're gold mines of property info.

6. Get Your Auction On

Land auctions can be a goldmine for deals. Keep an eye out for government auctions, bank foreclosures, and estate sales. Just remember to set a budget and stick to it - auctions can get as exciting as a rodeo, and about as unpredictable.

7. One Man's Trash...

Consider land with "issues":

  • No direct road access (hope you like hiking)
  • Tricky terrain (flat is overrated anyway)
  • Flood zone locations (waterfront property, am I right?)

These "problems" can drive down prices, but if you're willing to get creative, you might snag a bargain.

Due Diligence: The "Boring" Bit That Could Save Your Bacon

Once you've found a potential property, it's time to channel your inner detective. Here's what you need to investigate:

Zoning and Land Use: The Fun Police

Oregon's land use laws are stricter than your grandma's recipe for proper behavior. Make sure the property can be used for your intended purpose before you buy, or you might end up with very expensive pasture for your non-existent cows.

Access and Utilities: The Hidden Money Pit

Verify that you can legally access the property and check on the availability of utilities. Bringing power and water to a remote piece of land can cost more than the land itself. "Off the grid" sounds romantic until you're hauling your own water uphill both ways.

Environmental Factors: Mother Nature's Fine Print

Assess any environmental issues that could affect the land's usability or value. This includes wetlands, protected habitats, soil quality, and natural hazard risks. That beautiful meadow might be a protected butterfly habitat, and those majestic old-growth trees might be home to a spotted owl with more legal rights than you.

Water Rights: Because in the West, Water is Life

In Oregon, water rights are separate from land ownership. If you're planning on farming or other water-intensive uses, you'll need to investigate this thoroughly. Otherwise, your dreams of an alfalfa empire might go up in dust.

Property Taxes and Assessments: The Gift That Keeps on Taking

Research the property's tax history and any special assessments. Some rural properties might qualify for special tax treatments based on farm or forest use. But don't count on it - the taxman always cometh.

Title Search: Uncover the Ghosts of Owners Past

A thorough title search can reveal any liens, easements, or other issues that could affect your ownership or use of the property. You don't want to find out your new driveway is actually your neighbor's long-lost cousin's legally protected access to their secret moonshine still.

Show Me the Money: Financing Your Slice of Oregon

Financing raw land can be trickier than getting a mortgage for a house. Here are some options to consider:

  • Owner financing: Some sellers might be willing to act as the bank. Just don't expect the same interest rates as your credit card.
  • Local banks and credit unions: These folks often understand the local land market better than big national banks. Plus, they might actually return your calls.
  • USDA loans: The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers loans for rural land purchases. Yes, the same folks who grade your eggs might finance your farm.
  • Hard money lenders: More expensive, but they might finance land when others won't. Just read the fine print. All of it.
  • Cash is king: If you can swing it, buying with cash can give you a serious edge in negotiations. It's also a great way to make friends with the local banker.

Seal the Deal: Negotiation Tips

When you're ready to make an offer, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Do your homework on comparable sales. Knowledge is power, and power is money.
  2. Be ready to explain why your offer is fair, especially if it's well below asking price. "Because I want it" is not a compelling argument.
  3. Consider including contingencies to protect yourself, like the ability to conduct soil tests. "Subject to the land not being quicksand" is a reasonable request.
  4. Don't be afraid to walk away if the deal doesn't feel right. There's always another piece of land over the next hill.

The Easy Button: Land Buying Companies

If all of this sounds like more work than you bargained for, there's another option. Companies like Land Boss specialize in buying and selling land. They've been in the business for five years and have completed over 100 land transactions. Working with a company like this can offer some advantages:

  • Quick, cash purchases without traditional financing headaches
  • Simplified buying process with less paperwork (cue angelic choir)
  • Ability to purchase properties that might not qualify for traditional loans

You might pay a bit more for their services, but for some buyers, the convenience is worth it. Sometimes, paying a pro to handle the heavy lifting is smarter than throwing out your back trying to do it all yourself.

Final Thoughts

Finding cheap land in Oregon is part science, part art, and a whole lot of patience. It requires research, a willingness to look beyond the obvious, and sometimes, the courage to take on a challenge. But with the strategies outlined in this guide and a healthy dose of due diligence, you can increase your chances of finding an affordable piece of Oregon to call your own.

Remember, the land market can be as unpredictable as Oregon weather. What seems like a great deal today might be less so tomorrow. Be prepared to invest time in marketing and negotiating if you're after those below-market prices. And don't rule out working with land buying companies – sometimes, their expertise can save you time and headaches in the long run.

Whether you choose to go it alone or work with professionals, the key to success lies in thorough research, careful evaluation, and a clear understanding of your goals and limits. With persistence and the right approach, your dream of owning a piece of the Beaver State can become a reality.

So lace up your hiking boots, charge up your laptop, and start your journey to finding your own slice of Oregon paradise. Just remember - no matter how cheap the land is, it's only a good deal if it's right for you. Happy hunting, future Oregon landowner!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you really find cheap land in Oregon these days?

Oregon's popularity has definitely driven up land prices in recent years. But don't lose hope just yet. If you're willing to look beyond the usual hotspots like Portland or Bend, there are still some affordable gems out there. Your best bet? Cast your net wider and explore the less touristy parts of Eastern and Southern Oregon. It might not be a stone's throw from hip breweries or world-class ski resorts, but you could end up with a nice chunk of land that won't break the bank. Just be prepared to put in some legwork and maybe adjust your expectations a bit.

What's the story with Oregon's urban growth boundaries?

Ah, the infamous UGBs. These are basically Oregon's way of saying "cities, stay in your lane." They're invisible lines drawn around urban areas to keep sprawl in check and preserve our gorgeous forests and farmland. Noble intention, right? The catch is, they can make land near cities pretty darn expensive. It's simple supply and demand - less land available for development means higher prices. If budget is your main concern, you'll want to look well beyond these boundaries. Just keep in mind that cheaper land often means being farther from urban amenities. It's a trade-off, but hey, that's the name of the game in real estate.

Are tax-delinquent properties a good way to score cheap land?

This is a tricky one. Tax-delinquent properties - where the owner has fallen behind on property taxes - can sometimes be snagged for a bargain at county auctions. Sounds great, right? Well, not so fast. These deals often come with baggage. We're talking potential liens, title issues, or other headaches that aren't obvious at first glance. If you're considering this route, do yourself a favor and really do your homework. Maybe even chat with a real estate attorney. It could pay off big time, or it could turn into a money pit. Proceed with caution, my friend.

How big of a deal are water rights when buying Oregon land?

In Oregon, water rights are a pretty big deal, especially if you're dreaming of starting a farm or any other water-hungry venture. Here's the kicker: owning land doesn't automatically give you the right to use water from nearby sources. Crazy, right? But that's how it works here. If water access is crucial for your plans, you'll need to roll up your sleeves and do some extra research. Get in touch with the Oregon Water Resources Department to understand the water rights situation for any property you're eyeing. It's not the most thrilling homework, but trust me, it's better than ending up high and dry after you've already bought the land.

Should I consider using a land buying company?

If the thought of navigating property searches, negotiations, and piles of paperwork makes you want to run for the hills, a land buying company might be worth considering. These folks, like Land Boss for example, know the Oregon land market inside and out. They can often streamline the whole process and might even have access to off-market properties. The downside? You'll probably pay a bit more for their expertise and convenience. It really boils down to how much you value your time and sanity. If you're the type who enjoys diving deep into research and doesn't mind a bit of a treasure hunt, going solo could save you some cash. But if you'd rather leave the heavy lifting to the pros, a land buying company could be a smart move. Just weigh your options and go with what feels right for your situation.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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