Interesting news from the US property market. In order to attract homeowners to move to their towns, many US states have now introduced what’s become known as the Mini Homesteading Act – which gives building land, for free, to self-builders willing to commit to the place for five years.

The reasoning behind this is that it’s better for the land to be productive in being turned into homes which not only generate property taxes but also people to spend money, create jobs and generally contribute to the local economy.

Homesteading is really the art of being self-sufficient on the land – creating a home, crops and a whole lifestyle from a (mainly rural) building plot. For those of us who are students of American history, the whole settlement of the west was largely based on this principle. I’m delighted that our January issue cover stars, Rob and Alithea Dawson, have provided a 21st century, British, update of this.

Could it happen here? Could British councils (in a fit of progressive, radical generosity) give building land away for free in order to revitalise the local economy? Of course not. The obvious difference is that land here is pretty scarce (well, land near existing communities, anyway – only 9% of our land mass is developed). But it’s an interesting thought.

More interesting thoughts on the US market on the writer Graham Norwood’s blog here

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