How much an acre of land costs varies a lot by location, economic influences, and aesthetic appeal. According to the USDA, the average cost of farmland in the U.S. is $3,160 per acre, but that number quickly rises once you start looking at land in popular metro areas. Knowing the value of an acre is important, especially if you’re planning to buy a home and need to take out a mortgage.
Whether you’re planning to buy land or are just curious how much your current land is worth, keep reading for some valuable insight into how much an acre of land costs and what factors affect that cost.
How much does an acre of land cost?
So, how much is an acre of land going to set you back? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer here as the cost varies greatly by location. If you have your heart set on a rural setting that is ideal for farming, the average cost is $3,160 per acre.
If you’re looking to put down roots in a popular metro area, whether in the heart of the city or in the suburbs, you’re going to need to pay a lot more. For example, in the New York, NY metro you should expect to pay around $5.2 million per acre. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA metro get ready to pay a cool $2.6 million. Connecticut isn’t much cheaper, with an acre of land costing an average of $1.5 million in the Stamford-Norwalk, CT metro area.
It’s easy to see how much these prices vary when location comes into play. While some residential land in Yell County, Arkansas only costs $5,500, an acre in Kings County, New York (better known as Brooklyn), costs $23 million. Generally, land that is closer to major city centers costs more than land in rural or suburban areas. Coastal land is also typically more expensive than interior land.
Location isn’t the only influencing factor that land buyers should take into consideration. Economic activity plays a large role in how much land costs. The more job and education opportunities there are, alongside amenities like parks and health care facilities, the more an area is likely to cost. If a certain area hits a rough patch and businesses close and the local job market dips, then so do land prices.
Aesthetics also comes into play. Land that offers stunning views of an ocean, mountains, or foliage adds value to land for homebuyers. On a less pleasing note, environmental factors such as probability of natural disasters in the area or proximity to a chemical or nuclear power plant typically causes land to lose value.
How big is an acre?
A standard acre of land is 43,560 square feet. When it comes to farmland, an acre more specifically refers to land that is 660 feet long and 66 feet wide. It is hard to visualize what an acre of land looks like, so a good rule of thumb is to picture an American football field. While a football field is a bit larger than an acre, it’s an easy point of reference.
Where is land the most affordable?
If you have some flexibility on where to buy land, you may want to keep some of these more affordable spots in mind. The following five states are where you’ll find the most affordable land in America.
Value per acre: $1,558
2. New Mexico
Value per acre: $1,931
Value per acre: $2,116
4. South Dakota
Value per acre: $2,135
Value per acre: $2,283
Where is land the most expensive?
On the flip side, you may have an expansive budget and want to invest in land in one of the most expensive states in the country.
1. New Jersey
Value per acre: $196,410
2. Rhode Island
Value per acre: $133,730
Value per acre: $128,824
Value per acre: $102,214
Value per acre: $75,429
How do you find land to buy?
Searching for land to buy, versus an already built home, in a residential area is a bit intimidating. Unfortunately, you’re less likely to come across a for-sale sign and an open house when searching for empty land. You can still use real estate listing websites to search for land, but you may find better deals by working with a real estate agent that specializes in land purchases in the area or spreading the word around the community you have your eye on that you’re looking to buy some land.
Oftentimes, community members are the ticket to finding a great deal, so feel free to spread the word around town that you’re looking to buy land. You’ll still want to work with a real estate agent, as they are the best way to learn more about the area and any unique zoning challenges you need to look out for. They’ll also get you squared away when it comes time to put in an offer and close on a piece of land.
If you do happen to come across a piece of land that you are interested in purchasing while exploring the neighborhood and it appears vacant, it’s worth finding the owner in local tax records and inquiring if they’re willing to sell.
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Important questions to ask when buying land
Before you make an offer on a piece of land, it’s important to ask the right questions that will save you a lot of money, stress, and unpleasant surprises down the road.
How is the land zoned?
Before you make any land purchases, confirm the zoning with your local planning authority and make sure you’re clear about how the land can be used. The last thing you want is to buy land you intend to use for residential purposes, only to find you can only use it agriculturally or industrially. If you plan to build on the land, you’ll want to confirm where on the land you’re allowed to build structures. There may be restrictions on how far a home can be built from a property line or curb.
Are utility hookups available?
Does your land have access to vital utilities like water, sewer, and natural gas? If not, you’ll want a plan in place to overcome these challenges, such as building a septic tank. If you have to adjust, make sure the land can accommodate the changes you need to make. For example, if the land needs water access, you may need to haul water in if you aren’t allowed to drill a well because a private water company or a shared well agreement doesn’t allow it.
If you choose to go rural, you’ll want to confirm that there is strong enough cell and internet service to meet your needs.
How much will it cost to clear the land?
Clearing land is expensive, so you’ll want to get cost estimates from any contractors you may need to hire to ensure you budget appropriately. If there are structures on the land that need to be demolished, you should plan for both demolition work and debris removal.
How much time are you willing to commit?
Even before you buy a piece of land, you may have your work cut out for you. It may take years to get all of your ducks in a row when buying land and even more work is likely waiting for you post-purchase. Between permits, setting up utilities, doing surveys, securing financing, and building, you’ll likely have your hands full. Make sure you’re ready for that commitment.If you're not ready, working with Orchard to buy a new home may be the way to go.
How much it costs to buy an acre of land depends on your location of choice, amongst many other factors. Doing your research to make sure you’re getting enough bang for your buck is key!