Home prices have declined to their lowest levels in years. But in an effort to lure moving families, some rural towns in the Midwest have turned to literally giving away land to anyone moving into the area.
One of those towns is Marquette, Kansas, which started the program in 2007 when the town's population dipped to 475, CBS MoneyWatch
reports. But after offering up a number of parcels, 36 families had moved into the town, bumping the population back up to 650. Officials say that they're still getting relocation interest from many families, but the current state of the housing market has made moving very difficult for many.
"We get calls all the time from people saying that they still want to come,"Allan Lindfors, Marquette's mayor, told the site. "But they need to sell their homes, or they want to wait until their property value comes back."
Also holding back many consumers may be that they then need to build a home on the land, which could cost $80,000 to $100,000. A number of other towns have also latched onto the idea, and are making similar offers.
The concept of giving away free land isn't necessarily new, says WalletPop
contributor Ann Brenoff. The idea has its roots in federal incentives that encouraged settlers to move west in the 1800s.