When people see dirt-cheap land for sale, the first question they usually ask is, “But can the land be used for anything?” Following are just two historical examples to consider.
The Imperial Valley Venture
In the years between 1901 and 1907, the California Development Corporation attempted to build a water canal from the Colorado River westward into California’s Imperial Valley. The goal was to provide a source of irrigation and turn this dry, desolate and uninhabitable area into a subdivision of lush farms. Initially started by private promoters, the project eventually was taken over by the Southern Pacific Railroad with federal support promised by President Teddy Roosevelt. The United States Government owned most of the region and was offering dirt cheap land for sale at $1.25 per acre. The project failed after thousands of acres were sold and millions of dollars lost, and in 1909, the California Development Corporation was liquidated.
So what has happened to these dirt-cheap land prices during the last 100 years in the Imperial Valley? Much of the land is still without water, still desolate and uninhabitable yet it is very difficult today to find land in the Imperial Valley for less than $1,000 per acre.
Interstate Highway 80 in Wyoming
For a more recent example of dirt-cheap land for sale, consider the area along Interstate Highway 80 in Wyoming between the towns of Rock Springs and Rawlins. Local residents refer to the region as “barren and worthless.” Most of the dirt-cheap land for sale in this part of the state is in the checkerboard area (ownership of alternate sections divided between the federal government and private owners), which eliminates development potential. Known as the Red Desert, this area has no power, water, utilities or maintained roads. In 1990, land could have been purchased for as little as $15 per acre.
Today, 20 years later, ownership is still divided between the federal government and private parties, the area still has no power, water, utilities or maintained roads, and the zoning is unchanged. Yet this same “barren and worthless” land now sells for as much as $500 per acre.
If a person is seeking land for a specific use — such as agriculture, hunting, immediate development, or a site for a retirement cabin with utilities, trees and a creek running through the middle – then dirt-cheap land for sale probably won’t fit these needs. However, dirt-cheap land for sale is an overlooked real estate niche, as a large number of people have an almost innate desire to own such properties. Dirt-cheap land for sale is inexpensive to acquire and very exciting to own, because who can predict, with absolute certainty, future usage or values?
A hundred years ago, there were many popular, prominent stocks that no longer exist. These companies went broke, went out of business or were made obsolete by technology. However every single acre of dirt-cheap land for sale 100 years ago is still here today and is valued at a higher price. The predictable thing about dirt-cheap land for sale in the United States is that it will eventually increase in value as the result of nothing but the passage of time.
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