How Much is One Acre of Land Worth in Alabama?

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How Much is One Acre of Land Worth in Alabama?

Bart Waldon

Alabama may conjure images of sweet tea, college football and Southern hospitality, but the Yellowhammer State is also home to abundant natural beauty and opportunities for land ownership. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Alabama has over 134,200 farms spanning 8.9 million acres of farmland as of 2021, valued at an average of $3,280 per acre across farm real estate. The market for vacant plots and even entire farms in the state remains strong with agricultural and developable land prices seeing 5% annual appreciation over the last 5 years. But how much does an acre of land cost in Alabama and what factors determine the value?

Alabama Land and Real Estate at a Glance

Before diving into details on land prices, it helps to understand the broader real estate market in Alabama. As of 2023, the median home value in Alabama was $175,200 - significantly lower than the national median of $356,199. Apart from relatively affordable housing, Alabama also boasts a low cost of living compared to other states.

Several positive economic factors contribute to a healthy environment for buying and selling real estate in Alabama:

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.7% as of December 2022
  • GDP Growth: Alabama's GDP grew by an estimated 3.2% in 2022
  • Population Growth: Alabama ranked 27th among US states for population growth between 2021-2022 at 0.18%
  • Active Farms and Land in Agriculture: Over 134,200 farms span 8.9 million acres across Alabama as of 2021

With a solid economy and continued growth in agriculture plus development, Alabama provides a stable market for land and real estate investment.

What Drives Land Value in Alabama

Land prices vary greatly depending on the location, terrain, existing structures and utilities available on the property. In Alabama, some of the main factors that influence raw land value per acre include:

  • Development Potential: Land that can be used for commercial or residential development tends to demand higher prices. Properties near expanding urban areas like Huntsville often cost more due to increased demand.
  • Access and Improvements: Parcels with good road access, utility hookups, mineral/water rights and other improvements provide convenience and earning potential for buyers which translates to higher prices per acre.
  • Soil Quality and Farming Capability: For agricultural land, rich fertile soil translates to higher crop yields and profit over time. Prime farmland in Alabama's Black Belt region demands strong prices.
  • Recreational Value: Picturesque plots near lakes, rivers, mountains and wildlife habitat cater towards hunting retreats, RV parks or recreation land bringing increased value.

Beyond the on-site attributes, broader trends around land supply and buyer competition also greatly influence what an acre of land sells for. With higher demand plus lower inventory, prices tend to rise. Real estate investors will often pay well above the market rate to acquire properties in rapidly expanding areas anticipating future development. This further drives up land prices.

Average Land Prices Per Acre in Alabama

According to the 2022 Alabama Farm Real Estate Survey from Auburn University, acreage prices for crop and pasture land across different regions of Alabama range significantly based on quality grades from poor to excellent. Statewide, the average land prices are:

  • Crop Land:some text
    • Ranges from $2,196 per acre for poor land to $4,429 per acre for excellent land
    • Statewide average grade crop land sells for $3,423 per acre
  • Pasture Land:some text
    • Varies from $2,518 per acre for poor quality up to $4,307 per acre for excellent pasture plots
    • Statewide average pasture land sells for $3,127 per acre
  • Forest Land:some text
    • Averages between $1,420 per acre for poor timber land and up to $2,967 per acre for excellent forested real estate
    • Statewide average timber land value comes out to $2,024 per acre

These agricultural land prices provide a baseline for understanding rural land values, but areas intended for development, recreation or other purposes may sell for significantly more per acre.

Some examples of current listing prices per acre based on intended land use include:

  • Residential Development Land: $15,000 per acre
  • See-Front Lots: $60,000 per acre
  • Hunting Land: $3,500 per acre
  • ATV Park Land: $7,500 per acre

As you can see, pricing varies dramatically based on where the land is located, what condition it's in and the utilities or resources available on the property. Determining an average value per acre for land in Alabama depends greatly on its intended purpose.

Additionally, localized market factors even within the same county can dramatically impact prices. For example, an acre of partially wooded land without utilities in unincorporated Coosa County might sell for $2,000 - $5,000 depending on road access and buildability. However, just 10 miles away in the more developed areas around Sylacauga, an acre with mountain views and utilities could easily fetch $30,000 per acre or more due to increased demand from buyers looking for residential lots.

Who Sets Land Values in Alabama?

Land and property values stem from a balance of supply and demand. As buyers compete over limited land resources in desirable areas, they drive prices up through bidding wars. Various public, private and market forces influence both the inventory of land available and the pool of interested buyers.

Some of the key players that impact land prices across Alabama include:

  • Landowners - Owners choose listing prices based on property potential and records of comparable land sales. Many sellers start high, expecting to go down.
  • County Assessors - Assess land value for tax purposes based on market sales data, zoning, property details and other variables. Their appraisals influence market value.
  • Realtors - Help sellers price land appropriately using expertise of the local market. Also facilitate deals between buyers and landowners.
  • Appraisers - Create professional valuations lenders reference to approve mortgages. An appraisal confirms property value supports the loan amount.
  • Buyers - Ultimately willing buyers wanting land for various uses drive demand that raises prices. Investors, developers, farmers and individuals compete for properties.

Like any asset, Alabama land prices find an equilibrium between how much buyers are willing/able to pay and the lowest price sellers will accept. This balance determines what an acre of land sells for.

During particularly high demand periods such as Alabama's rapid recent growth, bidding wars may lead buyers to overpay above appraised values just to secure a deal. This inflation further increases property assessments and listings down the road. Likewise, during recessions or periods of uncertainty, buyers pull back and land prices stagnate or even decline before recovering again.

Should I Get an Appraisal Before Buying Land?

Especially for vacant plots listed at higher prices per acre, getting an independent land appraisal before purchasing can provide critical information to inform negotiations or walking away from a poor deal. Reasons to get an appraisal include:

  • Gain insider info to negotiate a better price
  • Ensure you don't overpay for the property
  • Discover issues that might be deal breakers like easements
  • Confirm the actual property value supports financing terms

Reputable land professionals rely on appraisals rather than listing prices or county tax assessments to judge appropriate purchase offers. If the owner refuses access for an appraisal before closing, this can signal overpricing issues.

Land prices span a vast range based on many variables, but dependable appraisals consider all the particular attributes of the property and offer a much better gauge of true market value than the metrics and listing details alone. Spending a few hundred dollars upfront can spell the difference between landing your dream acres at a steal or overspending by tens of thousands of dollars.

Key Takeaways on Alabama Land Values

While localized details around property features and market factors lead to varying prices per acre in Alabama, you can count on these general rules of thumb when evaluating land parcels:

  • Development potential, access/improvements and soil quality command higher values
  • Listing prices often leave room for negotiation below actual property value
  • Verify land value to avoid overpaying without an independent appraisal
  • Intended land use greatly sways pricing - compare similar functioning properties
  • Both demand from buyers and limited inventory place upward pressure on prices

Whether you want to invest in Alabama hunting land, establish a new farm, park an RV long term or build a residential development, clarity on land values provides a strategic edge for negotiations. Do your homework before dealmaking to maximize your investment in the land down the road. With savvy navigation of the market and due diligence on listings, buying acres in Alabama can deliver lasting financial returns.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How fast are land prices rising in Alabama? 

According to surveys, land values across Alabama have appreciated around 5% annually over the last 5 years as demand rises faster than inventory. High quality parcels in developing areas see even faster growth.

What location factors maximize land value in Alabama? 

Land with good access to utilities, water, roads and expanding economic centers generally commands the highest values. Parcels suitable for building in areas like Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Baldwin County sell for prime rates.

Does land have to be surveyed before selling in Alabama? 

While not legally required, having an official survey done provides vital information on precise acreage and property boundaries that protects against disputes. Many buyers request surveys to ensure what they pay for matches reality.

Can I negotiate with sellers on the list price for vacant land? 

Absolutely - list prices often start high to leave room for offers below asking. Appraisals, comps research and inspection findings give leverage to negotiate, sometimes 10-25% lower than what sellers initially request.

How much does an appraisal cost for vacant land in Alabama? 

Appraisal fees vary by region and appraiser, but often fall around $350-$500 for more basic vacant land valuations. Complex development parcels may cost $1000 or more to appraise. Either way, it informs negotiations.

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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