Land Grab
Reporter: Rodney Lohse

Watch you don't get knocked over in the rush, because the great land grab is on. Free land or cheap land is the latest gimmick struggling country towns across the country are using, to boost their flagging populations and skill starved shires.

Richmond is the most recent town to offer a bargain -- 7 blocks of land for just a dollar each. But where is Richmond? Well it's not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there. It is in fact in the middle of Queensland, five hours west of Townsville, population 750.

Its far from an original idea, but it certainly grabs attention and many towns have tried a variation on the theme -- like Bruce Rock in Western Australia; Jandowe in South East Queensland; and Avoca in Victoria. Pyrenees Shire Mayor Lester Harris says its a win for the towns and for the people. "It's about getting people into the town, it's about getting people into the region, and providing some available housing", Lester said.

And Richmond too is hoping they'll attract a crowd. But before you pack up the family and head bush, thinking these blocks are a bargain, you might want to take a breath and get some independent financial advice -- because it might cost you more than you think. "In real estate terms you are not going to make a killing, even though you are getting a block of land for a dollar", said Terry Ryder, a real estate expert.

So it might not be a good idea for those wanting to break in to the property market. Terry runs the website, hotspotting.com.au, and says none of these places, including Richmond, are property hotspots, nor are they likely to become one.

He says even though you get the block of land free, building a house on one is likely to cost you money in the long term. "You do have to build a house on it -- that is part of the requirements of the council out there -- and you don't get any change out of $150,000 these days, even for the most modest of houses. And construction costs out in a remote location would be very high", Terry said.

And why then spend $150,000 plus on building a house when you can buy one for less than $100,000. "You are creating a piece of real estate that is worth twice as much as houses typically sell for in the town of Richmond, which is about $90,000", Terry added.

So, unless you are prepared to literally invest in a plot in the cemetery also, you might want to keep your dollar in your pocket. "The people who take up the offer need to be very clear about their motivations. They are going to have to be there for the long hall and they are going to have to be sure they are going to be earning a living out there", Terry said.