Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to buy an average piece of land in your state 40 years ago? Have a look at our new animated map to find out.
Using data from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, we put together a series of maps showing the changes in average land values from 1975-2015 in each state. Overall, the trend is toward increasing land value, but there are exceptions.
*Land value = Total Home Value - Structure Cost
In 1975, all of the 48 contiguous states and DC had average land values below $15,000. But in 1976, starting with California and followed by other western states and some of the northeastern states, average land values began to rise above $15,000. Connecticut and California were the first states with average land values exceeding $140,000 – in 1988 and 1989, respectively. By 1999, most states had average land values in excess of $15,000, with only the central states and Alaska remaining below the $15,000 mark.
From 2000-2007, land values rapidly appreciated. Many states had average land prices greater than $140,000 in 2007. However, from 2008-2011, corresponding with the financial crisis, a drastic drop in land values across the US occurred. The sharpest price cuts were in Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. Only five states retained average land values greater than $140,000.
Since 2012, land values have recovered, but not quite to the same levels as in 2007. Land values in a handful of states (Oklahoma, Mississippi, West Virginia, and New Hampshire) remain below $15,000, despite 40 years of inflation.
The average land value is distinct from home value and structure cost: land value is determined by subtracting the structure cost from the total home value. The data behind the interactive map are estimates for 50 US states and DC of the prices and quantities of residential housing in nominal dollars (not adjusted for inflation). Average land values range from $0-$15,000 (colored green) to $140,000-$700,000 (colored red).
While average land prices in the US have increased over the last 40 years, there have been fluctuations along the way. Most of the price growth has occurred in western and eastern states, with the central states experiencing less appreciation in land value. For some states that continue to have average land values below $15,000, it is safe to assume that land values (in real terms) have actually decreased since 1975.
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