Evaluating the Nevada Land Market

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Evaluating the Nevada Land Market
By

Bart Waldon

Nevada is a western state known for its vast stretches of open land, spanning deserts, mountains, and rural farming communities. With over 70% of the state's land owned by the federal government, Nevada offers plenty of opportunities for buying and selling vacant plots for development or recreational use. As the state continues attracting new residents with its business-friendly tax structure and climate, understanding the Nevada land market is key whether you're a buyer or seller.

A Look at the Silver State

Nevada earned its nickname the “Silver State” from its 19th century silver mining boom. Though the days of prospectors flocking here are over, mining remains an important industry. Other key economic drivers range from tourism and gaming in Las Vegas, to warehousing, logistics and manufacturing around Reno.

With no state income tax and a low tax burden compared to other states, Nevada continues attracting new businesses and residents. The state’s population grew 15% between 2010-2020 to over 3 million residents statewide. Meanwhile Reno and Las Vegas remain popular destinations for relocations from pricier California cities.

Nevada offers buyers everything from remote desert acreage to suburban lots around its cities to rural ranches and properties with water rights. Understanding what’s available in its diverse landscape is step one.

Key Factors in Nevada's Land Market

Evaluating Nevada's land market requires recognizing several unique characteristics:

Availability of Federal Land

The fact that the federal government owns a majority of Nevada’s land (over 70% statewide) means less property in private hands. Much of this is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for various public uses like grazing, mining and recreation.

For buyers, this limits options to the remaining private plots mainly clustered around cities or in certain rural counties. Sellers may benefit from less direct competition, but also a smaller buyer pool.

Changes in Zoning Rules

Nevada has seen its share of changing county zoning ordinances and master plans over the years. Buyers should evaluate not just current property zoning, but also check on any upcoming votes or zoning changes being discussed. Projects approved years ago may still be delayed waiting for new infrastructure as the market shifts.

Sellers marketing land should highlight specifics on zoning and what’s permitted, as well as note any proposed developments that could raise property values.

Water Access Critical for Many Uses

In Nevada’s arid climate, access to water is necessary for irrigation, agriculture or certain types of development. Land with water rights or an allotment from resources like the Colorado River can sell for considerably more.

As a buyer evaluate not just is there is an existing water source, but details like:

  • The specifics of any water rights or allotments
  • Accessibility for getting water to/on the actual property
  • Ongoing costs and regulations around water access in that county

For sellers, documenting the water situation can directly impact price and buyer interest.

Current Nevada Land Market Conditions

The early 2020s have seen a surge of interest across Nevada real estate, including both raw land and developed properties.

The pandemic sparked rising demand as remote workers flocked to places like the Reno/Tahoe region and new residents relocated for Nevada’s affordability and tax incentives. Meanwhile fewer new construction projects through 2020-2021 meant low housing inventory, further intensifying demand.

Buzz around companies like Tesla, Google and Blockchains LLC investing in the state has also stoked interest from developers and speculators eyeing the market’s growth potential.

Nevada land prices jumped over 20% statewide in 2021 alone. While growth is expected to moderate somewhat, the market remains competitive with bidding wars common.

Understanding the current trajectory and just how “hot” the market is providing context around likely price ranges. Sellers can capitalize on surging values, while buyers should brace for higher asks and prepare to act decisively on a desired property.

Tips for Evaluating Land to Buy in Nevada

For potential buyers trying to assess if a property matches their plans and budget, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consult the county’s zoning map - Don’t assume you can build or develop land for your intended use without verifying zoning parameters. Also, research options if rezoning would be required.
  • Vet proposed developments - If nearby projects are factoring into your decision or offer price, ensure they have fully approved status before counting on those plans.
  • Compare overall cost - Look at not just purchase price, but longer-term costs related to taxes, utilities access, infrastructure installation and water access.
  • Get owner history - Ask about previous owners, intended land use and why it’s on the market. If it’s been listed previously without selling find out why.
  • Have fair market value assessed - Hire an assessor to identify comparables and estimate both market and development value based on allowable uses.
  • Make contingency offers - Include contingencies around confirming development potential or costs, rezoning timeline, etc to manage risk on speculating around future value.

Following these best practices allows fully assessing a specific property against your Nevada land buying needs and goals.

Tips for Sellers Marketing Land in Nevada

For sellers, positioning your Nevada land appropriately on the market comes down to understanding desirability factors and demand drivers:

  • Lead with best attributes - Emphasize priorities like highway access, views, zoning potential, water rights or adjacent public lands that increase interest.
  • Note development news - If major construction or infrastructure projects are coming to the area that raise land values, feature these prominently.
  • Price competitively - Research recent sales of comparable land plots to set asking price, while recognizing competition among buyers in popular growth areas.
  • Consider owner financing - Offering your own financing terms can expand the buyer pool interested in your Nevada land.
  • Market online and locally - Utilize digital listing sites like Lands of America, but also post flyers and signs in the region to attract builders and developers.
  • Mention incentives - Nevada tax benefits, affordability compared to other states and the business-friendly environment all position properties favorably with out-of-state buyers.

Taking these steps allows best leveraging current Nevada land market fever into a successful sale.

Nevada Land Market Forecast

Looking ahead, Nevada is expected to continue seeing above average land value increases through 2025 according to projections from the Cromford Report and other analysts. Ongoing population growth, affordable housing shortages near Reno/Tahoe and Las Vegas and robust job creation should further strain available inventory.

However, as market conditions start to rebalance, value gains may moderate or a buyer’s market could reemerge. This emphasizes the importance of following market indicators as both a buyer and a seller of Nevada land.

Though predicting any market’s fluctuations involves uncertainty, tailoring sales timeline to capitalize on current heat while demand outpaces supply remains a sound strategy.

For hopeful buyers, staying abreast of inventory listed by county makes jumping on the right property when it hits the market essential in competitive areas.

Federal Land Use and Private Development

With the federal government controlling over 70% of Nevada’s total land area, buyers and sellers of private land naturally wonder about impacts from adjacent public lands.

In many counties, private parcels mix with BLM acreage or U.S. National Forests. This proximity can enhance value for buyers looking for recreational access or beautiful scenery. Zoning rules may also allow certain tourism related businesses capitalizing on that natural setting.

However, some public lands use like grazing or mining can deter buyers hoping for residential development, so researching neighboring activities is important. Sellers with property bordering federally-controlled land should highlight any features that boost appeal while disclosing potential drawbacks.

Evaluating not only the property itself but context of what surrounds it allows properly setting expectations.

Wrapping Up

Nevada may offer fewer total land options due to large federal holdings, but remains an attractive market for real estate buyers and investors. As the state's population and economy expand, land values follow suit in both metro and rural areas.

Current conditions overwhelmingly favor sellers able to capitalize on supply/demand imbalance and Nevada's overall appeal. However, the market could shift towards a buyer's market longer-term as inventory catches up.

No matter what side you're on, evaluating the land market here requires factoring this state's unique nature and trends around zoning changes, water access priorities and market volatility. Understanding these dynamics allows both buyers and sellers to pursue deals strategically.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much of Nevada is federally owned land?

Over 70% of the land in Nevada is federally owned, mostly by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other government agencies. This is a key consideration for the Nevada land market as it limits the private land available for purchase.

Why is land with water rights more valuable?

Due to Nevada's arid desert climate, access to water is critical for agriculture, development, and other land uses. Properties that come with water rights or access to sources like the Colorado River see significantly higher sales prices and demand.

Is the Nevada land market currently hot or cold?

As of 2023 the Nevada land market is very hot, with property values rising over 20% statewide in 2021 alone. Demand outweighs inventory thanks to population and job growth plus pandemic-driven migration. Sellers can capitalize now while experts warn the market could shift in coming years.

What types of land sell fastest in Nevada?

Land parcels around growing areas like Reno/Tahoe and Las Vegas typically sell fastest thanks to demand for housing and commercial development. Recreational properties also see quick sales aided by tourism interest and buyers looking for second homes.

How are zoning laws impacting the Nevada land market?

Frequent changes to local zoning ordinances make carefully checking what's permitted on a property before buying essential. Even approved development plans can take years fully build out infrastructure. Buyers and sellers must vet zoning specifics when assessing land value.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.

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