As someone who has always been drawn to the rugged beauty of Alaska, I know firsthand how tempting it can be to consider buying land in the Last Frontier.
Unlike other states, most land in Alaska is owned by either the federal government or the state government. This can make the purchasing process more complicated, as buyers will often need to work with government agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources to secure land.
As experienced Alaskan real estate developers, we pride ourselves on delivering accurate information to our readers about the property market in our vast and beautiful state. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about purchasing land in Alaska to help you make an informed decision on your next real estate acquisition.
- Understanding the unique real estate market in Alaska is key before buying land.
- Buyers will often need to work with government agencies to secure land in Alaska.
- Alaska's remote location and extreme climate present unique challenges for residents.
Table of Contents
Understanding Alaskan Real Estate
Before buying land in Alaska, it is essential to understand the unique aspects of Alaskan real estate. As someone who has researched Alaskan real estate extensively, I can tell you that it is not the same as buying property in the lower 48 states.
Geography and Topography
One of the most important things to consider is the state of Alaska itself. Alaska is the largest state in the US, with a diverse landscape that ranges from mountains to tundra to forests.
The state is known for its harsh weather patterns, including long, dark winters and short, intense summers. It is essential to research the weather patterns in the area you are interested in buying land to ensure that you are prepared for the conditions.
Another consideration is the wildlife. Alaska is home to a wide variety of animals, including bears, moose, and wolves. While this can be exciting for nature lovers, it is important to understand how to coexist with these animals safely.
Terrain is another important factor to consider when buying land in Alaska. The state is known for its rugged and diverse terrain, which can impact the cost of building and maintaining a property.
It is essential to research the terrain in the area you are interested in to determine the best type of property to build.
The Alaskan lifestyle is unique and may not be for everyone. Living in Alaska requires a certain level of self-sufficiency, as many areas are remote and only accessible by boat or plane. It is important to consider the lifestyle changes that may come with living in Alaska before making a purchase.
Cost of Living
Finally, the cost of living in Alaska can be higher than in other parts of the country. This is due to the remote nature of many areas and the high cost of transporting goods. It is important to factor in the cost of living when determining your budget for buying land in Alaska.
State Land Vs Private Land
When it comes to buying land in Alaska, it's important to understand the differences between state land and private land.
State land is owned by the government and managed by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
This land can be used for a variety of purposes, including residential and commercial development, agriculture, and recreation.
However, it's important to note that not all state land is available for purchase. In fact, only a small percentage of state land is available for sale to private individuals.
On the other hand, private land and vacant land is owned by individuals or companies and is available for purchase through a real estate transaction.
This land can be used for residential or commercial purposes, depending on the zoning laws in the area.
How to Choose
When deciding between state land and private land, it's important to consider your specific needs and goals. If you're looking for a larger piece of land for recreational purposes, state land may be a good option.
However, if you're looking to build a residential or commercial property, private land may be a better choice.
It's also important to consider the location of the land. State land is often located in more remote areas, while private land may be closer to urban centers.
Purchasing Process for Alaska Land
If you're looking to buy a plot of land in Alaska, there are a few things you should know about the purchasing process.
Step 1: Department of Natural Resources
First, most land in Alaska must be purchased through the Department of Natural Resources. Private sales are still offered, but they are less common.
Step 2: Land Purchase Application
To buy land in Alaska, you'll need to identify a piece of land you're interested in and then submit an application to the Department of Natural Resources. The application will include information about the land, such as its legal description, and your intended use for the land.
Step 3: Process Payment
Once your application has been approved, you'll need to pay for the land. If you're not paying in cash, you may need to obtain financing.
Keep in mind that financing for land can be more difficult to secure than financing for a home. You may need to provide a larger down payment and pay a higher interest rate.
Step 4: Consider Services & Utilities Access
It's also important to consider how you will access basic services and utilities on your Alaska land.
Many areas in Alaska are remote and may not have access to traditional utilities like electricity and water. You may need to install a well or septic system, or use alternative power sources like solar or wind.
Why Buy Land in Alaska (Pros vs Cons)
As someone who has lived in Alaska for years, I can tell you that owning land in this state is a unique experience that is not for everyone. However, if you are someone who loves the great outdoors and values independence, then buying land in Alaska might just be the perfect fit for you.
Pro: Land Availability
One of the main reasons to buy land in Alaska is that it is abundant and relatively inexpensive compared to other states.
The state is vast, and there is plenty of land available for purchase through the Department of Natural Resources. This means that you can find a piece of land that suits your needs and budget without having to break the bank.
Another advantage of owning land in Alaska is the low cost of living. While some areas of the state can be expensive, overall, the cost of living is lower than in many other parts of the country.
This is especially true if you are willing to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, as many Alaskans do.
Pro: Natural Beauty
Of course, one of the biggest draws of Alaska is the incredible natural beauty and stunning land features that surround you no matter where you go.
Whether you are an avid hiker, fisherman, or just enjoy taking in the stunning scenery, owning land in Alaska puts you right in the heart of it all.
The lifestyle in Alaska can be very isolating, especially if you live in a remote area. While some people do not mind being on their own, others may find it to be a bit loney.
Cons: Difficult to Travel
Additionally, traveling around the country and back home can be challenging, as Alaska is not connected to the rest of the US by road.
Over-The-Counter Land Sales
If you're looking to buy land in Alaska, you may want to consider over-the-counter land sales. These sales are available to the general public and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.
As of March 2020, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources had 90 parcels available for purchase through over-the-counter land sales.
When purchasing land through over-the-counter sales, it's important to do your research and make sure the land is suitable for your needs. You'll want to consider factors such as zoning, access, and utilities before making a purchase.
Overall, over-the-counter land sales can be a great option for those looking to buy land in Alaska. With a little research and patience, you may be able to find the perfect parcel for your needs.
Buying Land in Alaska as a Non-Resident
As a non-resident, there are a handful of things to know before buying land in alaska. The land purchase process can become more complicated with more hurdles and obstacles.
However, it is still possible to purchase land in Alaska. In fact, the state of Alaska offers non-residents the ability to buy land directly from the state through the over-the-counter land purchase program.
Government vs Private Land
One thing to keep in mind is that only one percent of the land in Alaska is available for purchase from private landowners.
Nearly 60% of the land area of Alaska is owned by the federal government, and the rest is managed by the state government. As a result, the state of Alaska is one of the few states that still has a significant amount of public land available for purchase.
Land Purchase Procedure
If you are a non-resident interested in buying land in Alaska, you will need to follow the same process as Alaska residents.
This means that you will need to do your research, find a piece of land that you are interested in purchasing, and then contact the state of Alaska to begin the purchase process.
Rules & Regulations
One thing to keep in mind is that the state of Alaska has different rules and regulations for non-residents who wish to purchase land.
For example, non-residents are required to pay a higher price for land than Alaska residents. Additionally, non-residents are not eligible for certain state programs that are available to Alaska residents.
Alaskan Zoning Considerations
As someone who is interested in buying land in Alaska, I was curious to know more about the zoning laws and regulations that govern land use in the state.
After conducting some research, I discovered that Alaska has a unique system of land use planning that is designed to balance economic development with environmental protection. The state is divided into 11 planning regions, each of which has its own set of land use regulations that are tailored to local needs and priorities.
Effect on Land Prices
One interesting finding from my research is that the zoning laws and regulations in Alaska can have a significant impact on the value and desirability of land.
For example, land that is zoned for residential use may be more expensive than land that is zoned for industrial or agricultural use, since residential land is in higher demand.
Similarly, land that is zoned for conservation or protected areas may be more difficult to develop, which can limit its value.
Understanding the zoning laws and regulations in Alaska is therefore essential for anyone who is considering buying land in the state. If you are unsure about the zoning laws of a parcel you are reviewing, consider working with a real estate agent who specializes in Alaskan land.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling