As we discussed in an earlier post looking at the value of an acre of land in different parts of the country, land prices vary based on many different factors, ranging from soil and terrain types to land improvements, access and location. Mark Twain’s popular quote—”Buy land, they’re not making it anymore”—may be apt, but cheap land is usually cheap for a reason. An undeveloped ten-acre parcel in Texas Hill Country versus the same ten acres in the New Mexico desert are, obviously, two very different propositions.
Land buyers should arm themselves with all the tools available to understand the true value of an acre of land, including comparable sales information about similar property that has sold in the area in order to ascertain what the market is currently paying for specific kinds of acreage and land uses. Working with an accredited realtor to evaluate the fair-market value of a piece of land is also recommended.
Clearly, there are some distinct attributes that will determine whether a particular piece of land is cheaper or more expensive. Most specifically, land that is already developed with an existing home and/or residential infrastructure for water, sewage and power will clearly command a higher price-per-acre value than an undeveloped parcel of land for sale in the same area. Likewise, land with revenue-generating potential from such uses as farming, logging or hunting leases will reflect that in its cost-per-acre sticker price.
Based on average price-per-acre data for all listings currently for sale throughout the Land.com Network, we can see that land for sale in the southern states of Mississippi, Alabama and Missouri is currently cheapest based on the aggregate value of all land listed for sale in these states. Given the more rural nature of these states, and prevalence of undeveloped land and acreage for farming and hunting, overall land value is generally cheaper than more urbanized areas in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, for example.
When adjusting for specific land uses such as residential property (including ranches and other recreational uses), we see that the cheapest land for sale is in Sun Belt states like Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. Of course, the cheapest land for sale in these states is not to be found around booming cities like Albuquerque or Phoenix, but in the more remote counties and townships of the Desert Southwest where land may be plentiful and cheap but also further from jobs, amenities and essentials like water and sewage access!
Likewise, the cheapest hunting land in the country sits in rugged and remote West Texas counties like Brewster and Terrell, where the opportunity to stalk big game and big bucks is tempered by the fact that you really are in some of the country’s wildest hinterlands. As befits the age-old supply-and-demand equation, the country’s most expensive hunting land based on average price-per-acre values is to be found in and around sought-after Texas Hill Country zipcodes like Medina and Boerne, plus among the Rocky Mountains slopes overlooking southern Colorado’s Pagosa Springs.
Larger, contiguous tracts of land will also typically list at a lower price-per-acre value (again, qualified by proposed land use and value of land for farming, for example). Land on a ranch in Wyoming selling at $500 per acre might sound cheap in the abstract, but not when that ranch is offered at $28 million for its 69,550 contiguous acres.
As we see with the cheapest available residential land for sale, farmland in the American Southwest is cheaper relative to other parts of the country, but comes with the caveat that the arid landscape in states like Nevada and Arizona is better suited to cattle and livestock farming—if, of course, water sources are even available! As you’d expect, farms for sale in Wisconsin’s dairy-farming heartland or central California’s sun-kissed agricultural belt come at a premium.
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