Evaluating the Tennessee Land Market

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Evaluating the Tennessee Land Market
By

Bart Waldon

With its rolling green hills, forests, lakes, and music-filled cities, Tennessee captures the charm of the American South. This scenic state also offers an affordable cost of living and plenty of wide open spaces. For these reasons, the Tennessee land market has been heating up over the past decade. More out-of-state buyers are swooping in to grab slices of Tennessee heaven. At the same time, locally grown folks still dream of carving out their own little homestead or farm in the countryside where they can sit back and relax.

Navigating the Volunteer State's land market takes insider knowledge and persistence. You can’t just pick a pretty spot off a map and expect to score a deal. By understanding the unique factors that drive Tennessee land valuations and utilizing smart buying and selling tactics, you can find success as a land investor in this blossoming market. Let’s explore some keys to evaluating the lay of the land in Tennessee.

A State of Diverse Land and People

The state of Tennessee contains striking diversity in its land and people, which creates markedly different market conditions across the state. Getting to know the distinct regions will help you drill down to find advantageous local opportunities.

In terms of geography, Tennessee contains three Grand Divisions – West, Middle, and East. Each area has its own climate, topography, and culture. The rolling fertile farmland and wooded hills of Middle Tennessee contain the capital city Nashville and other vibrant Growth centers. This central part of the state has seen a development boom that steadily lifts property valuations.

West Tennessee borders the Mississippi River and contains flatter floodplains punctuated by low rolling hills. The soil makes ideal cotton and soybean country. Sleepy small towns and cities like Memphis dot this region.

Finally, East Tennessee consists of the rugged Appalachian Mountains and foothills. The Great Smoky Mountains draw tourists, retirees, and wilderness-lovers. Areas like Knoxville and Chattanooga feature revitalized urban centers. Tiny mountain towns still embody the hillbilly spirit.

Tennessee also falls into three climate zones – mountain, basin, and plateau. The differences impact agriculture and development potential. Elevation ranges from 200 feet above sea level along the Mississippi River up to 6,643 feet at the summit of Clingmans Dome in the Smokies.

Beyond the physical landscape, Tennessee maintains a cultural blend of Southern hospitality and Appalachian spirit mixed with Midwestern sensibilities. Rural areas still embrace a traditional way of life. Of course, the larger cities have become hotspots for transplants and tourists seeking music, entertainment, and business opportunities. Understanding Tennessee’s diverse identities will help you identify the buyers and sellers active in any particular area.

Key Factors that Drive Tennessee Land Valuations

Pinpointing the fair market value of a Tennessee land parcel relies on analyzing several key factors:

Location, Location, Location

As with most real estate, the value of Tennessee land hinges greatly on location. Proximity to growing urban centers and suburban sprawl increases property values as more buyers compete for convenient access. Parcels located within an hour’s drive from cities like Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis typically sell for higher prices and faster than rural properties.

Land near major highways, interstates, and infrastructure also fetches higher valuations, especially tracts near I-40, I-75, I-24, and I-65. The old adage in real estate rings true - convenience costs more.

Access to recreational amenities like lakes, rivers, hiking trails, golf courses, and winter skiing also pumps up land prices. Proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park creates a halo effect on neighboring property values.

In contrast, isolated rural parcels far from any centers of commerce or recreation often struggle to attract buyers even at lower price points. The lack of convenience and infrastructure depresses values for remote land.

Improvements Add Instant Value

Raw land sells for a lower price per acre compared to improved parcels with infrastructure and buildings. Cleared fields, gravel or paved roadways, fencing, barns, and other enhancements demonstrate functionality and future profit potential.

Recreational improvements like ponds, trails, and duck blinds on hunting land also boost value significantly. If selling, make minor upgrades to get your land ready for its ideal uses, such as clearing brush or adding signage.

Easy Access Sells Faster

Landlocked parcels with poor access negatively impact valuations and salability. Look for tracts with good road frontage, multiple access points, gentle slopes, and room for driveways and trails to be installed.

Remote properties accessible only by rough gravel or dirt roads hold less appeal for buyers unless they want isolation. Ensure legal deeded access is included if purchasing any backcountry land.

Soil & Resources Impact Productivity

Land that can support productive uses like farming, ranching, and forestry brings higher prices per acre. The quality of soil, timber, minerals, water resources, and other natural attributes influence value if the land can generate income.

Rich bottomland soil near rivers prized for row crops will be valued based on agricultural production capability. Likewise, timberland is valued on harvestable wood resources, and ranchland on the grazing capacity. Know your land’s potential.

Surrounding Uses Matter

Properties situated adjacent to protected parks, woodlands or farmland generally appreciate faster thanks to privacy and scenic views. Land bordering residential subdivisions may get snapped up for additional homesites. Proximity to industrial parks or commercial zones also boosts potential value.

What if a large factory, toxic dump, or eyesore sits next door? That will repel buyers in a heartbeat. Always investigate neighboring uses when evaluating a parcel.

Local Economy Shapes the Market

A strong local economy translates directly into robust real estate demand. Areas with growing companies, more jobs than workers and low unemployment see hot property markets. High out-migration and lack of economic opportunity reduces prices.

Evaluate the health of the county economy – is it booming or stagnant? Growing middle Tennessee cities like Nashville, Murfreesboro and Franklin have enjoyed a strong real estate run thanks to a red-hot economy. Know where the jobs are.

Comparable Sales Reveal Market Value

At the end of the day, the fair market value of any parcel equals what a willing buyer agrees to pay a willing seller under typical conditions. Comparable land sales in the county over the past 6-12 months give the best benchmark for value.

Search for recently sold parcels with similar acreage, location, improvements and usage to identify price per acre trends. Adjust up or down slightly based on variations in amenities and access to hone in on likely market value range.

Tennessee Land Market Conditions - Rising Prices but Regional Variations

Over the past decade, land values across most of Tennessee have been on an upward climb thanks to population and economic growth. Middle Tennessee in particular has enjoyed a real estate boom as Nashville continues expanding. As demand rises but supply dwindles, buyers bid up prices on prime parcels.

At the same time, low-quality tracts in isolated rural areas far from cities still struggle to attract buyers even when listed below market value. The old adage “location, location, location” rings true here.

Land prices vary drastically between different counties and towns. Do your homework researching local sale prices and trends rather than relying on statewide generalizations. Expect feverish competition and higher prices around growing cities like Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga and in tourist destinations like Gatlinburg.

For more remote rural land, condition your expectations to reality. Lacking convenience and infrastructure, these tracts typically sell for below average prices and generally require more time and creativity to market successfully.

Smart Tactics for Buying Land in Tennessee

When purchasing land in Tennessee, getting a good deal takes preparation and rapid action. Here are some tips for landing the ideal parcel:

  • Engage an experienced agent who specializes in rural land sales. They offer insider knowledge you can’t glean from websites and could alert you to pocket listings.
  • Get pre-approved financing to be able to act quickly once you find the perfect parcel. In hot areas, quality listings get snapped up fast.
  • Inspect carefully in-person and walk the boundaries. Ensure terrain and features match advertised details. Look for encumbrances or access issues.
  • Verify legal access via title search. Ensure no easements restrict intended use. Check for liens, back taxes and other red flags.
  • Calculate improvement costs like driveways, fencing, utilities, and outbuildings to determine total investment.
  • Conduct appraisal, surveys and inspections to confirm value and uncover any deal breakers. Don’t skip this due diligence step.
  • Make a fair offer but don’t overpay based on comps and condition. Be ready to negotiate terms and price.

Move quickly and intelligently when you find the right Tennessee land deal. Pairing with a savvy agent will give you a competitive advantage to win properties and pay the right price.

Tactics to Successfully Sell Land in Tennessee

Selling vacant land in Tennessee takes effort and savvy. For top dollar, private land owners should:

  • Hire an agent experienced in marketing rural land - don’t try to sell yourself and limit exposure. Their network and skills can drive up your price.
  • Make some improvements like clearing brush, installing gates or signs, grading roads, etc. to improve aesthetics and function.
  • Price sensibly based on appraisal and recent comparable sales then be willing to negotiate to motivate buyers. Price too high and it may linger.
  • Advertise online/print with eye-catching listing photos and emphasize all possible uses - farms, homesites, hunting, etc. Target marketing to likely buyers.
  • Consider owner financing to expand the buyer pool. Investors often pay cash but everyday folks need creative terms to buy land.
  • Be patient for the right deal. Prime parcels may sell in weeks but lower-quality tracts often take many months to go under contract.
  • Time it right if possible. The spring and early summer see peak demand from buyers.

Partnering with an experienced agent and investing sweat equity will move your slice of Tennessee paradise faster. Utilize professional input to price and position the listing for success.

Conclusion - Find Your Place in Tennessee

Thanks to breathtaking scenery and southern hospitality, Tennessee has emerged as a top destination for land seekers. The market holds opportunities for buyers and sellers but rewards preparation and decisiveness.

By studying the diverse regions and honing in on local conditions where you want to buy or sell, you can navigate this complex market successfully. Seek out the best parcels, improve them strategically, price intelligently, and move quickly to get deals done. Partnering with a savvy real estate agent provides an invaluable edge.

While competition is increasing, you can still find good land values if you act smarter and get Your boots on the ground. Do the legwork to understand the true condition and potential of the land. Whether looking for your own little homestead or a major development opportunity, the Volunteer State offers something for everyone. With some persistence and insight, you'll be relaxing on your own piece of Tennessee paradise in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main factors that influence land values in Tennessee?

The major factors are location, improvements/development, accessibility, resources, surrounding land uses, local economy and comparable sales. Proximity to cities and amenities along with infrastructure increases values. Improved and productive land is worth more. Strong local economies positively impact prices, while remote rural areas often have depressed pricing. Comparable sales of similar properties give the best gauge of value.

How much does raw land typically cost per acre in Tennessee?

Pricing varies drastically based on the location, amenities and condition of the land. In desirable areas near cities like Nashville or Knoxville, bare land can sell for $10,000 per acre or higher. In rural counties far from urban centers, per acre prices for undeveloped land average $2,000-$5,000. Mountainous wooded tracts tend to price on the lower end. Valley farmland with road access brings higher offers.

What tips should I follow for buying land in Tennessee?

Work with an experienced agent, get pre-approved for financing, act quickly on attractive listings, thoroughly inspect properties in person, verify legal access, calculate improvement costs, conduct surveys/appraisals, make fair offers based on recent comps, and negotiate price and terms. Doing your homework before buying allows you to move decisively when the right parcel comes along.

What’s the best way to sell my Tennessee land for top dollar?

Strategically improving the land, hiring an agent experienced in rural land sales, pricing intelligently based on appraisal and comps, advertising online and in print media, considering creative financing terms, timing the listing for peak season, and being patient but persistent usually results in the best outcome. Effective marketing to qualified buyers is key.

How hot is the Tennessee land market currently?

The market has been trending upward over the past decade, with Middle Tennessee seeing particular growth as Nashville expands. There is stiff competition for high-quality parcels near cities and recreational amenities. Isolated rural land often sells for below market value and requires longer marketing times. Local market conditions vary, so research sales and trends specifically in the county where you want to buy or sell.

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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