Claim-free government land, meaning cheap or free land that the government offers to the public, no longer exists, and homesteading on unused federal land is no longer an option after implementation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, reports About.com. According to the law, the Bureau of Land Management must sell undeveloped federal land for fair market value after a government appraisal. Advertisements purporting to offer bargains on government land are bogus.
The Bureau of Land Management usually sells undeveloped land parcels without amenities, which are located in deserts, grasslands and woodlands, explains About.com. When appraising the land, the government considers factors such as ease of access, availability of water, possible uses of the property and comparable property prices in the area. The Department of the Interior Appraisal Services Directorate evaluates the appraisals, approves them, and sets minimum acceptable bids. The Bureau of Land Management may sell the land through modified bidding that gives preference to owners of adjoining properties, open public auction or direct sale to a single buyer.
The government lists land sales in the Federal Register, state Bureau of Land Management websites, and local newspapers, according to About.com. Only U.S. citizens at least 18 years old, legal corporations or state entities can purchase government land, points out the Bureau of Land Management. Land sales occur irregularly, but the Bureau of Land Management posts notices of sales at least 60 days in advance. Winning bidders must submit non-refundable deposits on the day of the auction, and all sales are final.