How Much is One Acre of Land Worth in Minnesota?

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How Much is One Acre of Land Worth in Minnesota?

Bart Waldon

Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota’s natural beauty and abundance of outdoor recreation translates into steady demand for both improved and undeveloped land across the state. But a complex interplay of location, zoning regulations, terrain and local market conditions makes precisely pegging down consistent per acre pricing for raw rural land difficult for prospective buyers. This guide examines key valuations considerations determining what one acre of land may sell for in different Minnesota counties and situations.

Minnesota Real Estate Market Conditions 

Like the country as a whole, Minnesota experienced sizable home price gains across 2021 as low inventory and bidding wars sent values skyrocketing nearly 20% year-over-year in many areas. Yet some regions saw much hotter demand than others last year. Rochester led major metros with nearly 30% annual appreciation while Duluth trailed at under 10% gains. Sellers wishing to capitalize on the uptrend must still price appropriately relative to comparative sales in their exact city or township.

While developed plots with infrastructure access understandably sell at premiums over undeveloped recreational acreage, wide variances exist. Current pricing spans anywhere from $2,000 per acre for remote forest or croplands to $100,000+ per acre for approved housing subdivision parcels in top school districts near the Twin Cities. Many factors drive those major differences.

Zoning Regulations Impact Land Valuations 

One major contributor to radical pricing gaps for raw Minnesota land plots stems from local zoning restrictions dictating what future usages get permitted. The savviest investors review county auditor data to understand designated land codings before purchase. Common classifications include:

  • Agricultural or Forested Rural Land - Limited development permitted beyond minor outbuildings like barns. Mostly wildlife or farming usage allowed.
  • Residential Rural Land - Housing construction potential but strict limits on maximum site usage percentages and dwellings per acre exist. Septic systems likely required.
  • Low-Density or Multi-Family Residential Land - Land legally convertible to standard housing with municipally provided utility infrastructure availability.

Since residential buildable lands offer homeowners site usage freedoms plus future flip or rental income potential, prices understandably run highest. Yet all classifications enjoy some base marketability to respective buyer groups like farmers, conservationists or developers if promoted effectively to niche audiences.

Major Valuation Factors Impacting Minnesota Land Pricing 

While no definitive universal dollar amount adequately answers “what is an acre of land worth” across Minnesota, informed sellers start the pricing process referencing recent comparable land sales then adjusting from there based on unique characteristics. Major considerations include:


Regional desirability and accessibility commands premiums. Lakeside plots fetch higher bids than remote woods. Being within commutable distances to Minneapolis or St. Paul metro job centers proves more valuable than distant rural towns.

Terrain & Soil Conditions 

Level cleared fields suitable for structure construction or installing septic drainage sell for more than low-lying swamplands. Buildable lands draw high bids backed by improvement cost savings.

Roadway Frontage 

Parcels flanking county roads, highways or other public easements garner elevated appraisals over deep-set landlocked acreages requiring extended driveway access buildouts by owners. Existing road frontages simplify development.

Availability of Utilities 

Lands annexed into municipal boundaries with existing electrical, gas, water and sewer access support their worth over sites needing wells, propane tanks or solar power. Homebuilders covet “shovel ready” properties.

Surrounding Land Usage Context 

Valuations track depending on proximity to other recent developments, industrial zones or desirable neighbors like golf courses. By contrast, operations producing noise or odors like factories and quarries hamper prices.

Alongside verifying economic growth trends, ongoing environmental due diligence ranks equally vital before land acquisitions in Minnesota. Check databases providing awareness on considerations like:

  • Flood zone maps assessing flood insurance requirements
  • Wetland inventory identifying protected marshlands
  • Impaired waterway reports signaling watershed pollution issues
  • County well advisories flagging groundwater contamination discoveries 
  • Legacy pollution disclosures like Superfund sites or old storage tanks leftover from previous land usages

Those advisories highlight unseen “red flags” impeding full utilization potentials for acreages until mitigated, thus dragging down net values. But mining historical usage also uncovers gems like old mineral or oil drilling surveys pointing to untapped underground revenue possibilities awaiting shrewd buyers noticing the opportunities early.

Determining Accurate Land Pricing by Minnesota County 

Researching recent actual land transactions across various Minnesota counties through public records provides the best compass for projecting potential worth ranges per acre in different regions. While impossible to summarize all pricing by individual county here, below reflects general prevailing acreage values sampling pressing from around the state currently:

Hennepin County 

$50,000 to $150,000+ per acre depending on municipality, zoning allowances and parcel improvements existing. Nearby Minneapolis influences the peak pricing across MN for approved residential development land parcels at over $200,000 per acre in select districts.

Carver County 

$15,000 to $60,000 per acre based on proximity to Twin Cities metro. Higher if annexed into Chaska or Victoria city boundaries enabling housing buildouts. Otherwise ag use lands average $7,500 per acre.

Blue Earth County 

$7,500 to $15,000 per acre. Highest residential development land prices found nearer Mankato city limits. Otherwise, predominately farmland averages $8,000 per acre.

St Louis County 

$5,000 to $30,000 per acre stickers reflecting recreational/mining potentials. Duluth-adjacent buildable parcels tally $30,000+. Remote towers or forests fetch closer to low-end $5,000 pricing.

Otter Tail County 

$4,000 to $12,000 per rural acre. Shoreline parcels near Detroit Lakes with housing prospects command towards upper-end pricing while thick woodlands and croplands holding only farmers’ appeal struggle selling for over $6,000 per acre very often.

Evaluating land investment risks goes beyond simply scoping categorized sales listings advertising best-case valuations. Savvy buyers apply boots on the ground due diligence uncovering downsides impacting true net values like:

  • Steep topography hindering construction feasibility
  • Altered flood plain mapping since last FEMA updates 
  • Revised endangered species habitat protections
  • New state conservation land buffer mandates
  • County easement concessions for forthcoming infrastructure upgrades

Only through holistic analysis weighing upside income potential against worse-case carrying costs or compliance expenditures does compelling deal finding occur. The market often misprices risks that prepared investors capitalize on first while others remain blindsided by outdated assumptions.

How Land Investors Source Discounted Acreage Deals

Beyond depending solely on chance property listings marketed publicly, seasoned rural land investors network amongst public agencies managing non-producing government lands to uncover buy/sell agreements years before reaching mass market exposure. Examples include:

  • Overtaxed counties liquidating surplus vacant plots for quick capital
  • Municipal utility districts divesting unused easements
  • State tax deed sales after foreclosures change unused property hands

Investors prioritize forging connections with figures like county assessors, title officers or redevelopment agency decision-makers steering early discussions on public lands being declared as excess surplus capacity prior to public auctions. Competition stays sparse with reduced bidder awareness. Decision-makers welcome serious buyers able to accelerate sales processes progress through counties juggling budget deficits. Those mutually beneficial sale outcomes explain why the most successful land dealmakers remain informed on public lands holdings months or years ahead of typical real estate investors fixated only on yesterday’s for-sale listings.

Key Takeaways for Selling Minnesota Land

While developers focus solely on lands suitable for quick subdivision infrastructure buildouts and subsequent attached housing construction, finding buyers for raw rural acreages lacking near term improvement potential takes greater creativity and targeted outreach to niche audiences. Considerations include:

  • Research heavy equipment auction companies to possibly resell former industrial sites being environmentally remediated that future developers may find unappealing until clean bills of health get established years down the road.
  • Advertise availability of mid-sized agricultural parcels in Farmers Weekly publications during seasons when crop prices trend favorably, as land ownership appeals more to farm families looking to scale up operations via rental or purchase of neighboring plots.
  • Install visible signage alerting drivers along lightly trafficked county highway stretches which bisect larger acreages because site visibility often sparks initial interest leading to inquiries.
  • ● Contact power companies to inquire if they offer programs acquiring rights to open land for renewable solar or wind farm developments which lease at strong rates otherwise unusable terrain lacking viable mining commodities or housing development prospects.

While valuations vary tremendously statewide based on unique plot variables aforementioned, taking proactive measures like these facilitates lucrative deals benefiting both motivated sellers and opportunistic land investors who still recognize worthwhile potential awaiting discovery across Minnesota’s abundance of yet-to-be-improved vacant acreage.

Final Thoughts

Determining accurate per acre pricing for Minnesota lands remains tricky given the wide spectrum of property types, development capabilities and market conditions differentiating parcels across the state's 87 counties. While remote rural recreational lands may linger years eliciting only periodic buyer interest down towards $5,000 per acre, housing approved properties in desirable Twin Cities districts continue commanding up to $150,000 per acre as demand for construction-ready inventory sustains momentum. Savvy land investors weigh location influences, zoning codes, terroir and multiple other valuation factors when evaluating deal potentials or setting asking prices for land holdings on the market. Paying mind to recent sale comps certainly helps set baseline expectations. But no substitute exists for rigorous due diligence uncovering downside risks also shaping net values before cementing transactions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average cost per acre of land in Minnesota? 

Depending on the region and land classification, prices range dramatically from $5,000 per acre on the low end for remote rural parcels to over $100,000 per acre for residential development approved lands in premium metro districts. Overall statewide median comes around $15,000 per acre.

Why do land prices vary so much between Minnesota counties? 

Proximity to Twin Cities metro job centers that fuel housing demand paired with zoning codes enabling development plays a key role in valuation gaps county-to-county. Land flanking lakes or rivers also fetches premium recreational pricing compared to deep woods acreages.

What factors most influence Minnesota land valuations? 

Legal usage classifications dictating construction potential, roadway frontage access, proximity to existing utility infrastructure availability and surrounding context including any undesirable neighboring properties shape property appraisals.

How fast are Minnesota land prices appreciating currently? 

Strong housing market tailwinds translated into 20%+ valuation growth throughout 2021 for developable lands in Minnesota. More remote rural acreages saw modest single digit gains by comparison during the past year. Looking ahead, tight inventory suggests continued pricing momentum statewide.

What is the process for researching land values by specific Minnesota county? 

While some generalizations help set expectations, thoroughly comparing actual recent land sale transaction documentation through public records databases, county GIS property tools and accompany viewing of the parcels offers the most reliable value benchmarking. Adjustments get made from there accounting for property differences on a case-by-case basis.

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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