Evaluating the Wisconsin Land Market

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Evaluating the Wisconsin Land Market

Bart Waldon

Wisconsin, located in the Great Lakes region of the Midwestern United States, is fondly referred to as “America’s Dairyland” due to its long history and prominence in the dairy industry. Over 10,000 lakes scattered across the state alongside rolling green hills create a scenic landscape. Wisconsin also contains vast forestlands and fertile agricultural areas. Major industries driving Wisconsin’s economy include manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, information technology, and tourism centered on outdoor recreational activities. Wisconsin’s central location, infrastructure connections to major metropolitan areas like Chicago and Minneapolis, educated workforce and research institutions have nurtured business growth and innovation.

Understanding the Wisconsin Land Market

For those looking to buy or sell vacant land in Wisconsin, understanding trends in the local real estate market is key. Evaluating factors like land values, demand drivers, inventory levels and sale timelines will lead to making informed decisions. This article serves as a helpful guide for people exploring the Wisconsin land market.

Determining Wisconsin Land Values

Pinpointing the value of a plot of Wisconsin land depends on examining sales of comparable vacant land parcels. While the Wisconsin land market has seen steady long term appreciation, land values can fluctuate significantly in the short term. Many factors impact prices like property location, terrain, road access, zoning regulations, land improvements and availability of utilities. Rural recreational and hunting land typically sells for $2,000 to $5,000 per acre. In comparison, land parcels located closer to urban centers with commercial development potential can sell for over $100,000 per acre.

Analyzing Market Demand

Several positive underlying drivers sustain ongoing demand for Wisconsin land:

  • Wisconsin’s growing population and business expansion increases commercial and residential development land needs.
  • The state continues attracting tourists and retirees drawn towards recreational land ownership.
  • Investor appetite remains strong for land as an inflation hedge hard asset.

However, tracking inventory numbers also provides perspective on demand trends. For example, surging inventory levels can indicate waning demand or signal buyers waiting for lower prices. Meanwhile, shrinking inventory generally points to robust demand.

Evaluating Sales Timelines

In a buyers market with excess land inventory, parcels often remain listed for over a year without attracting serious offers. Conversely, highly desirable land in active development zones might sell in weeks with multiple competing bids. Other vacant land falls somewhere in between, taking around 6 months to go from listing to closing.

Monitoring length of time on market provides clues on the balance between supply and demand. Dramatically faster sale timelines indicate tightening inventory and strengthening buyer competition. But if sales slow even with sellers dropping prices, then demand is likely decreasing.

Key Factors Impacting Sale Price

  • Accessibility – Land near main roads and highways or with existing driveways maximize convenience and expand buyer pool. Difficult to access land limits uses.
  • Improvements – Cleared sites with existing wells, septic tanks or utilities require less work so sell faster. Raw land takes longer to sell and at lower prices.
  • Surrounding Area – Buyers pay premiums if adjacent properties have attractive amenities like waterfronts and trails rather than factories.
  • Developer Activity – Land in the path of new housing subdivisions or commercial buildings often appreciates rapidly in anticipation of future transformations.
  • Zoning – Parcels already zoned for intended commercial or residential usage offer quicker turnaround times than those requiring zoning changes.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Land

  • Is the property accessible year-round via paved or gravel roads?
  • Does terrain allow for building structures without excessive land alteration expenses?
  • Do gas, electric, water and sewer connections exist or need installation?
  • Is land use compatible with zoning codes and regulations?
  • Are permissible usage intensifications possible, like rezoning from agricultural to residential?
  • Can further parcel subdivisions accommodate future sale of smaller lots?
  • Do conservation easements or other restrictions limit development capabilities?

Questions to Ask Before Selling Land

  • What nearby comparable land parcels have sold for recently?
  • Are promotional efforts maximizing exposure to qualified buyers?
  • Might price expectations exceed actual current fair market valuations?
  • Could including development rights easements raise sale price?
  • What sales commissions and closing expenses will reduce net proceeds?
  • Is an installment sale preferable for spreading tax liabilities over time?
  • How can disputes be averted for inherited co-owned family parcels?
  • Are there ways to minimize capital gains tax obligations on low cost-basis land?

As demonstrated above, properly evaluating the intricacies of the Wisconsin land market requires researching recent sales activity, buyer demand factors, property details and legal considerations. While selling or acquiring vacant land can get complicated, taking the time upfront to thoroughly understand market conditions better positions both investors and landowners to make sound decisions.

Best Practices to Evaluate Wisconsin Land Market

Understand Value Influencing Factors

Several key attributes impact what a Wisconsin land parcel is worth. Carefully examining features like location, terrain, zoning designation, utilities access, and allowable usage helps benchmark value against comparable listings and sales. Rural recreational land may sell for around $2,000 per acre. In contrast, commercially zoned parcels near cities with development potential can command over $100,000 per acre.

Inspect Property Thoroughly

Visiting the land allows assessing positives like pastoral views and negatives like wetlands. Verify the owner’s claims against realities by noting boundaries, topography changes, flood zones, easement restrictions, and invasive species. Soil tests indicating construction suitability provide insights on development expenses. Report issues not evident from listings that could enable negotiating the price lower.

Research Sales History

Studying a particular parcel’s sales record highlights trends. Data points like past purchase prices, how long held before resale attempts, number of days on market and any offer price decreases hint at actual demand. High turnover frequency or plunging values may reflect troublesome hidden problems. Comparing against area wide metrics indicates if challenges are isolated cases or market wide phenomena.

Analyze Local Market Conditions

Combining land valuation models with regional market statistics paints an accurate picture. Growth indicators like new housing permits and commercial construction alongside business investments point to rising land values. Meanwhile, elevated inventory levels, weakened occupancy rates and building delays reflect faltering demand. Determine if forces boosting prices like urban encroachment outweigh falling rates stemming from inhabitants seeking cheaper rural locales.

Consult Experts

While research provides baseline insights, local real estate professionals, appraisers and land development experts possess valuable boots on the ground intelligence. Seek qualified opinions on zoning changer likelihoods, infringement disputes, easements removals, extension cost estimates and commercial viability. Experts also facilitate assessing various usage scenarios, selection of ideal buyers and creating connections.

Properly evaluating the Wisconsin land market requires exploring micro and macro influences on value, thoroughly investigating properties, researching sales histories, analyzing regional economies and leveraging expert guidance. Following structured best practices reduces risk and amplifies success for both buyers and sellers.

Final Thoughts

Effectively appraising both the short and long-term potential of Wisconsin land parcels requires rigorous examination from multiple angles. Following structured best practices when assessing value drivers, market conditions and property specifics establishes a firm foundation for decisions. Conducting detailed inspections, researching sales histories, studying macroeconomic trends, and securing input from local real estate professionals provides a comprehensive 360-degree perspective. Taking a meticulous approach reduces surprises, disputes, and regrets for both buyers and sellers. Whether acquiring property for commercial usages or as a personal investment, properly evaluating the intricacies of the Wisconsin land market sets the stage for favorable outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What's a typical price per acre for recreational land in Wisconsin?

Great question! The ballpark price range goes from about $2,000 to $5,000 per acre on average. But costs vary a ton based on exactly where in the state the land is located and specifics like road access, tree coverage, views, and proximity to lakes or rivers. Plan to investigate recent area sales for the best sense of current value.

Do I need to hire an appraiser before selling my vacant parcel?

It couldn't hurt to consult a professional appraiser, but not always necessary if you thoroughly research recent comparable sales yourself. Key is identifying properties with similar acreage, location, zoning, terrain and utility access that sold lately. Use those as a guide for setting an asking price to test the market.

How fast should my Wisconsin land sell in this market?

In rural counties plan for around 6 months give or take. But properties near expanding cities with development potential might sell in weeks when demand outweighs supply. And remote hunting acreage could sit for over a year with limited prospective buyers. List price appropriately from the start by inspecting the latest sales timelines in that county.

What factors most impact the value of Wisconsin land?

Location, location, location - along with zoning codes, easements or restrictions, utilities availability, road access, parcel size, surrounding properties, environmental elements like water frontage, and economic health of the region all sway value. Do loads of research to benchmark against the most comparable parcels sold recently.

Should I subdivide my large acreage into smaller lots before selling?

If the land is suitable for residential usage then subdividing first into buildable home sites of 1-5 acres can certainly unlock more value than selling the entire parcel at once. But also consider costs of surveys, access road building, utility extensions, land clearing, marketing expenses and legal fees. Do the math to see if returns justify the extra work.

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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