How Much is One Acre of Land Worth in Vermont?

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How Much is One Acre of Land Worth in Vermont?
By

Bart Waldon

Nestled in the picturesque New England region of the northeastern United States lies the scenic state of Vermont. Known for its rolling green mountains, quaint small towns, delicious maple syrup, and spectacular fall foliage, Vermont has long attracted visitors and new residents alike with its natural beauty and relaxed way of life.

With a total land area of 9,616 square miles, Vermont is one of the smallest states in the U.S. Yet within its borders lies a diverse landscape ranging from fertile agricultural lands to dense forests, winding rivers, sparkling lakes, and rugged mountain peaks like Mount Mansfield and Camel's Hump. Historically dependent on forestry and agriculture, present-day Vermont has developed a mix of traditional and modern industries including tourism, manufacturing, dairy farming, and specialty foods production.

Politically, Vermont stands out for its progressive values and environmental consciousness. Fiercely independent and leaning Democratic, it was the first state to ban slavery and introduce civil unions for same-sex couples. Many towns still convene for an annual town meeting where residents can vote directly on budgets and local matters. With a sparse population of just over 623,000 residents, Vermont has an intimate small-town feel where neighbors support each other through community initiatives.

Assessing Land Values Across the Green Mountains

For those looking to put down roots in Vermont, one of the first decisions is determining how much land to purchase. With housing costs rising and urban areas becoming more crowded, the prospect of owning green acreage in Vermont holds great appeal for city dwellers seeking more space and solitude. But how much is a peaceful acre in the Green Mountain State actually worth in today's market? Let's examine some of the factors impacting land values across Vermont.

Location, Location, Location

As with most real estate, the value of vacant land for sale in Vermont differs tremendously based on location. In the densely populated Champlain Valley region bordering Lake Champlain, an acre of vacant land can sell from anywhere between $10,000 to $100,000. As one ventures farther from population centers into the more remote and forested areas of the state, prices drop considerably into the range of $2,000 to $5,000 per acre.

Other popular scenic areas like the Connecticut River Valley, Central Vermont's Mad River Valley ski region, and the rural Northeast Kingdom also command higher premiums due to high demand. proximity to recreation, and development potential. Those set on buying cheap vacant land in Vermont may have better luck searching in the state's more isolated and mountainous corners. However, tradeoffs typically include lack of utilities, road access, cell service, and community amenities that come with more expensive acreage located closer to civilization.

Development Potential & Restrictions

The capability to construct houses, outbuildings, roads, and infrastructure can significantly influence valuations for vacant land tracts. Those containing meadows, ponds, streams, open fields or choice home sites allow for more flexible development possibilities and are hence valued higher in the marketplace. Many remote and wooded properties in Vermont conversely offer limited development potential beyond camp leases or seasonal recreation due to geophysical constraints and zoning restrictions.

In environmentally sensitive areas, buyers may also face extra regulatory hurdles when planning any future construction. Common land use regulations govern wetland disturbance, septic capacity, minimum lot sizes, setbacks, ridgeline protections, agriculture use restrictions and more based on factors like soil suitability, watersheds and local conservation priorities. Thus, those planning to build on vacant land need to thoroughly research a parcel’s development capacity and permitting requirements beforehand to avoid headaches later on. Any pre-approved building plans or permits already secured can greatly bolster a tract's asking price.

Access & Amenities

Vermont properties with key access to maintained roads and trails typically sell for higher valuations, as they receive more site visits from prospective buyers and allow for simpler construction logistics. Parcels situated along paved roads and town highways provide the most convenience, while those at the end of poorly maintained dirt roads or logging trails may deter some buyers despite lower asking prices.

Proximity to amenities like utilities, high-speed internet, cell service, recreational lands, views, and community centers also adds value in proportion to the benefits conferred. For example, acreage adjoined to power lines, telephone poles or municipal water sources sells quicker and for more money as hooking up to these services is less complicated. And land buffered by conserved forests, linking local trail networks or overlooking an alpine lake sells faster simply due to its enhanced desirability for both residential and recreational usage.

Local Market Conditions

Prevailing real estate trends within surrounding cities, towns and counties influence the ebb and flow of land valuations statewide. During flush economic times when confidence runs high, buyers hungry for land push up sales prices and reduce days on market at a brisk pace. However, perceptions reverse sharply when recessions hit and discretionary spending dries up.

The years following the 2008 housing crisis provide a cautionary example, as panicked sellers were forced to slash listing prices while watching properties languish due to tight credit markets and few qualified buyers. Only recently have sales recovered back to peak activity levels across most Vermont regions. Monitoring macro-economic indicators and sales data can help ascertain the balance of leverage between buyers and sellers when negotiating deals. Those purchasing land outright for cash tend to command better terms during downturns.

Zoning & Taxes

At the more micro-economic level, localized zoning codes and property tax schemes also sway land valuations noticeably from one township to the next across Vermont. Municipalities determine both the usage designations and mill rates applied towards vacant land, thereby shaping its inherent profitability.

For example, acreage zoned for residential housing or agricultural use would be assessed at lower property tax rates than those designated commercial/industrial. Such commercial lands would conversely be valued higher due to more intensive development potential. And within similar zoning categories, individual towns can still choose to implement widely varying property tax multipliers that diminish or enhance net investment returns. So prudent land shoppers must evaluate both purchase pricing and carrying costs when identifying the best acreage deals.

Estimating One Acre Land Values in Vermont

Given the enumerated variables above impacting property valuations, accurately appraising vacant land on a per acre basis remains as much art as science. Fortunately, when performing due diligence, informed buyers can ballpark fair acreage values by examining recent sales data for comparable parcels across different Vermont regions.

Both seasoned real estate agents and local government assessment offices track and publish details on property transactions useful for benchmarking prices. One can filter these market comps by criteria like location, slopes/views, road access, zoning, land composition and utilities availability to find the most relevant pricing samples based on preferences. Common ranges gleaned from such custom shortlists better reflect current going rates for similar offerings.

And while structured appraisals almost always overestimate actual market values, the adjustment ratios between qualitative factors prove informative nonetheless. As a general rule of thumb after compiling comps, the following per acre price ranges for vacant land in Vermont shake out as follows:

  • Prime Development Land: $20,000 - $100,000+ per acre
  • Secondary Home Sites: $5,000 - $20,000 per acre
  • Recreational/Hunting Lands: $1,000 - $5,000 per acre
  • Remote Forests/Mountain Lands: $500 - $2,000 per acre

Of course, individual deal prices ultimately depend on the buyer's budget and seller's motivations in negotiating each specific transaction. During housing booms demand for land spikes, while recessions force some distressed owners to sell cheaply to meet pressing needs. Value investing strategies taking advantage of short-term mispricing to secure land below intrinsic worth generally pay off handsomely for patient buyers taking a long position.

Vermont remains alluring for both permanent residents and second homeowners given its splendid natural beauty and relaxed way of living. While acreage values run the gamut, viable parcels exist to accommodate almost any budget for those willing to search. Whether as a family compound, income property, wilderness retreat or legacy woodlot, the right piece of Vermont land awaits new stewards. Those prioritizing privacy, self-sufficiency and communion with nature will find their corner of paradise across the Green Mountains.

Final Thoughts

Determining the value of land on a per acre basis in Vermont requires deep analysis into an array of factors impacting real estate across cities, towns and counties statewide. From development potential to location desirability and market conditions influencing local demand, variable pricing prevails based on property specifics that prudent buyers must research beforehand. Yet despite complexities estimating fair market values, useful price ranges can be extrapolated from recent sales of comparable parcels. While premiums exist for scenic and accessible lands in populous regions, budget-minded buyers can also acquire cheaper acreage in Vermont's remotest corners. Regardless of budget, the Green Mountain State offers something for everyone seeking their own little piece of paradise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most expensive type of land per acre in Vermont?

Prime development land in highly desirable locations generally sells for the highest premiums in Vermont, ranging from $20,000 - $100,000+ per acre. Properties suitable for housing, recreation, or retail/commercial projects with prime road access, scenic qualities, and existing utilities and approvals command top dollar.

What properties would be considered the least expensive acreage in the state?

The cheapest vacant land is typically found in Vermont's most remote and isolated regions with limited road access, untapped utility connections, challenging geography impeding development, and longer distances from services and amenities. Comprising mostly dense woods and mountainous terrain, these minimally accessible properties can sell for $500 - $2,000 per acre.

Do zoning laws impact what my acreage can be used for and in turn its value?

Yes, local zoning dictates designated usage such as residential, agricultural, commercial or some hybrid variation, directly shaping a property's development possibilities and thereby its fair market value assessment. Generally, commercially zoned lands allowing for more intensive uses receive higher valuations on a per acre basis.

If I'm looking for cheap land under $5k/acre suitable for camping and hunting, where should I look?

For lower priced acreage fitting a more rustic recreational lifestyle geared around camping, hunting, ATV riding and snowmobiling, target Vermont's densely wooded and hilly remote areas especially in the Northeast Kingdom and central mountain county regions. Parcel prices here often range from $1k-$5k/acre.

How can I estimate what an acre of land should sell for before making an offer?

Researching sales data for recent comparable vacant land transactions nearby helps ballpark fair per acre values based on property specifics like slopes, acreage size, road access etc. An experienced local real estate broker can also assist with accurately pricing and positioning your offer by providing custom regional market comps.

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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