Evaluating the Oregon Land Market

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Evaluating the Oregon Land Market
By

Bart Waldon

Oregon is a scenic state located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Known for its evergreen forests, rugged coastline, and the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon's natural beauty makes it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. However, there is more to this state than its good looks. Oregon also boasts a strong economy and an affordable cost of living compared to other West Coast states. These factors, combined with its natural assets, make Oregon an attractive place for people looking to buy land.

With over 98,000 square miles of land and a population of just 4.2 million, Oregon has plenty of wide open spaces. Most of the land here is privately owned. The state's land market includes everything from residential lots in Portland to large timber farms and cattle ranches in rural areas. There are also many unused parcels just waiting for new owners with big plans. The diversity of land for sale provides opportunities, but also makes Oregon’s land market complex to evaluate.

Assessing True Land Value in Oregon

Putting an accurate price on land in Oregon can be tricky. Since most parcels do not have any structures or improvements on them, traditional appraisal methods focused on buildings don’t necessarily apply. And with over 170 micro real estate markets within Oregon, values can shift dramatically from one town or county to the next.

Land values in Oregon are influenced by:

  • Location – Property near Portland and other metro areas demands higher prices than rural land. Coastal property also comes at a premium.
  • Terrain and trees – Gentler slopes that are easier to build on and parcels with mature timber ready for harvesting tend to have higher values.
  • Access and utilities – Land with road frontage, especially if electricity, gas, water and sewer lines are available, provides convenience that boosts value.
  • Zoning laws – Parcels already zoned for specific uses like residential, commercial or agricultural have higher market values.

With so many variables, averages and statewide trends don’t provide enough insight for an individual property. Accurately pricing land requires analyzing recent comparable sales in the immediate local area. Doing so allows properly accounting for localized supply and demand.

Gathering quality comparable sales data requires significant effort. In addition to researching public records, it also means building relationships with knowledgable local brokers tracking area activity. Keeping close tabs on properties brought to market, those garnering interest, and actual selling prices provides real time understanding of true current value.

Navigating Oregon’s Complex Land Market

The complexity of Oregon’s land market creates challenges for both buyers and sellers. With hundreds of small markets, myriad regulations, and land types ranging from barren lots to income-producing farms, it takes expertise to capitalize on opportunities or avoid overpaying.

For sellers, accurately pricing land means deeply understanding terminology brokers use like “price per acre” and how factors like trees, terrain and location impact value. It also requires legwork to investigate zoning restrictions and recent comparable sales. And even perfectly priced land can stay on the market for up to two years in Oregon’s slower-paced market. That timeline requires patience and budgeting for taxes, insurance and other carrying costs.

Buyers also need to put in serious effort. Finding good land deals requires being able to analyze property details and act quickly when value appears. Working with an established local broker well networked in a specific area provides advantage. Buyers who make all-cash offers also tend to have more success acquiring prime properties below market value from motivated sellers.

The Skills and Value Cash Buyers Provide

Certain land buyers possess the expertise not only to properly value parcels, but also improve them for profitability. Instead of seeking miniscule “lowball” margins through acquisition price alone, these specialists boost value using development skills. Their model involves expertise to enhance land itself rather than seek mammoth markdowns from uninformed owners.

Cash buyer companies with localized knowledge solve many pricing and selling challenges for owners. By handling so many Oregon transactions, they cultivate broker networks providing insight on fair market prices county by county. Instead of pushing properties to the wrong buyers through misguided marketing, they appreciate accurate carrying values.

These niche firms also smooth the sales process with owners through cash purchases completing in days or weeks instead of months. Cash deals avoid buyer financing issues that can delay closure. Quick closes allow owners to move on instead of waiting indefinitely for buyers that may never actually finalize.

Skillful land buyers also utilize expertise to improve properties before reselling at much higher retail prices. With intricate knowledge of Oregon real estate regulations plus networks of planners, attorneys and developers, they rezone usage, annex lands, add subdivision potential and extend utilities to formerly remote parcels. Providing these value elevating enhancements distinguish specialized cash buyers from the perception of simple price slashing wholesalers seeking undeserved profits.

Considering Alternatives for Maximizing Returns

Oregon’s numerous micro markets blended with state and county regulations make accurately pricing land exceptionally difficult for the typical individual owner. Significant comparable sale analysis across broader geographic areas than just immediate neighborhoods provides some improvement. But even perfectly priced land at strong value estimates gleaned from regional broker networks can still linger for months or years before attracting qualified buyers able to navigate the convoluted sales process to completion.

Rather than riding an unpredictable and lengthy rollercoaster, owners should carefully consider their needs before setting rigid sale expectations. Those with flexibility may opt to list land with a strong broker well plugged into sales data and buyer connections throughout the larger locality. Owners in a hurry to sell or without the patience for extended timelines may find direct cash sales companies ideal for securing fair funds quickly. In some cases, these cash buyers may even pay strong value thanks to their unique appreciation of a property’s potential. Regardless of approach, researching options beyond simple listing opens possibilities owners may not realize are available in Oregon’s complex land market.

Final Thoughts

Navigating Oregon’s hundreds of hyper-localized land markets presents challenges. Accurately pricing property requires significant analysis of recent comparable sales and understanding of changing values. Even well-priced land can stay listed for up to two years before the right buyer completes a contract. For frustrated sellers, alternative options exist beyond the conventional listing process. Companies specializing in quick, fair-valued cash purchases help owners exit unwanted parcels smoothly. While cash sales come at some discount, the transparency and certainty these buyers provide delivers compelling benefits for many owners. Carefully examining all avenues for sale ensures maximizing returns when selling Oregon land.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I determine an accurate price for my vacant land in Oregon?

Determining land value requires researching recent sales of comparable properties very close to your parcel. Location is hyper-local when pricing land, so review sales from the past 6 months within a 1-2 mile radius. Analyze property details like lot sizes, zoning, terrain and any other improvements in relation to your land. If available, work with a local broker familiar with area activity rather than solely relying on county assessment data which is usually 6+ months delayed from true market shifts. Pay attention to current supply and buyer demand by tracking newly listed parcels and how quickly they go under contract in nearby neighborhoods. Weigh all factors together to set a competitive yet realistic asking price.

Does it matter if my Oregon land has utilities/services available when selling?

Yes, access to electricity, natural gas, internet, water and especially sewer substantially improves property value and marketability. Land already connected to utilities and roads demands premium pricing compared to parcels needing infrastructure development. Remote properties without utilities often require long timelines for sale because buyers must budget considerable costs to clear land, install roads, dig wells/septic and trench lines. Be sure to highlight available services in marketing materials with confirmation from utility companies to attract buyers who can build quicker with less upfront infrastructure creation.

What selling costs should I budget for when listing my Oregon land?

Typical transaction costs for land sellers range 8-12% of the final sales price, including: licensed broker commissions around 4-6%; closing fees averaging $1500-$2000; plus legal fees drafting sale documents. If land is mortgaged, pay off loan principal, interest and associated lender title fees. Budget for property taxes and insurance during months or years land awaits buyer. Income taxes apply on profits unless a 1031 exchange. And in some cases, costs to survey boundaries, bring utilities, improve access roads or clear timber must be funded to boost marketability. Realistically project all potential expenses when pricing and selling land.

Should I consider a direct cash offer from an investment group instead of listing through an agent?

Cash buyer firms specializing in land transactions often pay fair prices and close quickly with fewer hassles compared to financing contingent deals. But their mission involves reselling for profit, so they build in margin negotiating discounts off peak value. Weigh benefits of a simplified, expedited sale against maximum returns from holding out for top dollar. If needing to sell quickly or tired of waiting on unreliable buyers, reputable cash companies provide liquidity despite taking some loss off appraised rates.

How long should I expect marketing Oregon land to take before selling with a broker?

Plan for anywhere from 6 months to over 2 years average marketing time in Oregon’s slower-paced land market. Attracting viable buyers involves aligning listing agent expertise with locality and land type. Budget for carrying costs as land awaits the right investors able and willing to take action. Price drops averaging 10% become increasingly common past the 9-12 month mark if land stays listed, so set expectations accordingly around length of time and price flexibility needed for success.

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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