New Richland offers free land

Published 9:57 am Thursday, December 9, 2010

NEW RICHLAND — The word “Richland” in this city’s name is a bit of a misnomer.

A national news report has once again stirred up interest in a New Richland program offering free land.

On Nov. 17, a web report on CNBC.com featured seven towns where land is free, including New Richland.

“We’ve always had a lot of interest, but in about the last week, we’ve had over 100 inquiries,” said New Richland Clerk-Treasurer Wayne Billing.

The Homestake Subdivision, a newer development near the northwest side of New Richland, offers qualified homebuyers free lots, measuring 86 feet by 133 feet each.

While the land is free to those who qualify, the assessments for services provided by the town such as streets, curb and gutter, water and sewer are at the expense of the purchaser. These expenses are estimated at $25,000.

Billing said that through tax-increment financing, these expenses can be reduced to about $14,000 for qualified candidates. These fees are paid over 15 years on a semi-annual basis, along with real estate taxes.

Those who claim lots must also build a house on the property within one year from the time the land is deeded to them. Additional building covenants specific to Homestake Subdivision also apply.

The New Richland Economic Development Authority originally began planning the Homestake Subdivision back in 2005, to promote affordable housing and growth in the community.

“There hadn’t been private development in New Richland in 20 years, and we just wanted to get things jump started,” Billing said. “In that respect, it’s done its job.”

He said that the subdivision began with 27 lots available. Seven new homes were built in 2006 and 2007 before the housing market stalled.

“The housing market plummeted everywhere in 2008 and 2009,” said Billing. “Overall, it’s been well received with a lot of local interest that’s legitimate.”

He said while his office has received calls from all over the country about the program, those with serious consideration are the locals.

Billing said there is no time frame for the program and it will continue to offer the free lots until all of the lots are deeded out.

“It’s first come, first serve. When they’re full, they’re full,” he said.

Other towns featured in the CNBC report, offering free land around the nation, include Marne, Iowa; Beatrice, Neb.; Muskegon, Mich.; Curtis, Neb.; Camden, Maine; and more than a dozen communities in Kansas.

How to qualify

To qualify for a free lot in the Homestake Subdivision, those interested must submit a letter from a qualified lending institution stating they are qualified to receive a mortgage home loan.

To qualify for reduced assessments, interested people must make less than the income guidelines below. Those who make more than the income guidelines you can still qualify for a lot, but will not qualify for the reduced assessment.

Family of:     Income (Line 34 of 1040 Tax Return)
2 or fewer   $66,950
3 or more    $76,993