DeLaney Becker-Baratta wrote:Hello fellow Michigan permies, I have been on the lookout for cheap land close to Grand Rapids. For anyone who has purchased land what were your experiences? How many acres did you purchase? Did you find it was better to browse the area by car or by the web? I've been looking at sites like craigslist and Zillow but their land availability is spotty at best. Also I am concerned with the trend towards fracking on public land and have heard of a new law passed recently allowing the oil & gas companies eminent domain on private property if there are prospects. Anyhow thanks in advance for the responses.
In December 2012, I bought a foreclosed house and five acres near Jackson, for a little under $45k.
The house, depending on your taste, was almost livable: all it needed was a heating appliance.
But I ended up replacing the flooring, painting the walls and ceilings, adding a woodstove, replacing the plumbing supplies, bathroom fixtures, water heater, and water softener, and replacing the front door and the roof. It still needs trim, a back door, and exterior paint before it's respectable. (Then I can finally get to the fun stuff like a conservatory, wine cellar, etc, etc. )
In the last 14 months, prices have gone up just a hair.
The way we found this place was, we talked to a realtor and had her set us up an automatic email search. Anything under a certain price, with some bedrooms, some acres, and in two counties, it sends us an email. So I drove over to see this one, liked it, made an offer in a day or two, and got it. I hear that lots of other offers came in right behind ours, so if we hadn't been quick on the draw, we might have missed our chance.
That's what worked for us, but there are certainly other way to skin this cat!
The fracking trend is very disconcerting, there seems to be more of it farther north in the state, but recently the Allegan State Game Area (the county north of me) has been considered for fracking, and that's pretty close for comfort. I know the closer you get to a bigger city the fewer options there are (thanks to sprawl), and more cost; so it's kind of a catch-22 where you'll probably have to live a good distance outside GR if you want to find a great deal, though if you're willing to live in a marginal/sketchy neighborhood in the city (sometimes on large lots; some friends of mine got a nice old Victorian in a so-so part of Kzoo with an acre of partially-wooded land for around 80k), I'm sure there are good older houses at decent prices.
One other option is tax-sale auctions; they only have these once or twice a year but you can get land cheaply if others aren't bidding it up. https://www.tax-sale.info/ A parcel near me of 15+ acres went for about $25k, though it's mostly forested land within the village limits of my town, so you can't hunt there, and the land is also a bit swampy (as much cheap land around here tends to be), so its usefulness is limited for many applications.
Best of luck!