Is Alabama Land a Good Investment?

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Is Alabama Land a Good Investment?

Bart Waldon

With over 50,000 acres of land for sale in Alabama, investing in raw undeveloped land may seem like an attractive opportunity for some. According to research from the Alabama Center for Real Estate, the average per-acre sales price for vacant residential land in Alabama has steadily climbed from $2,760 in 2018 to $3,280 in 2022. 

Additionally, a 2022 survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 61% of real estate agents expect vacant land prices in Alabama to continue rising over the next 3 years. However, simply purchasing land does not guarantee it will increase in value. Factors like location, property taxes, development costs, and market demand all impact the potential return on investment. While data suggests certain regions of Alabama have seen consistent vacant land price growth recently, careful analysis of specific parcels is required before determining if Alabama land is likely to be a lucrative investment or not.

Alabama Land Prices and Market Conditions

The first step is understanding Alabama land prices and real estate market conditions. As with any investment, prices and demand play a major role in projected performance.

  • Average price per acre of Alabama land is around $2,894 as of 2018 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prices can vary greatly though based on location and land attributes.
  • Alabama land prices remain relatively low compared to other states, especially more urban coastal areas. This leaves room for future appreciation.
  • The real estate market in Alabama has rebounded well from the housing crisis years, showing healthy growth recently. This indicates an opportune time to invest in land.

When analyzing a specific property or parcel, also research recent comparable sales in the immediate local area. Consider factors like distance to urban centers, road/water access, development potential etc., that impact value.

Working with a qualified real estate agent who is very familiar with Alabama land will help appraise parcels of interest appropriately before purchasing.

Returns from Timber, Farming, and Other Uses

Beyond just land price appreciation over time, Alabama offers prime opportunities to generate ongoing returns from timber harvesting, agricultural leasing arrangements, and other interim land uses while holding.

  • Alabama has a strong timber industry, especially across the rural Black Belt and Southern Coastal Plains regions. Income can be realized from selectively logging and selling timber from wooded acreage.
  • Row crop and cattle farming lease agreements are also common means to earn yearly cash rents without having to actively work the land yourself.
  • Recreational leasing to hunters, fishers, and outdoor enthusiasts is another rising supplemental income stream from rural land holdings.

Consult a local forestry expert for timber management advice. Get guidance from farming industry groups on typical lease rates and arrangements in the area.

Development Potential

Evaluating future development potential is key to maximizing investment upside from Alabama land purchases. Prime target locations exist near expanding urban and suburban regions across the state.

  • Carefully research proposed infrastructure improvements, commercial/residential developments, or other economic growth indicators that will enhance the land’s development viability and marketability to builders/developers down the road.
  • Land along major transportation corridors and infrastructure routes often garners strong interest from commercial developers.
  • Surging retirement destination cities along Alabama’s coastline and lakes are fueling a robust housing and mixed-use development market, driving up land prices.

A real estate attorney can also advise on entitlement, zoning and parcel subdivision factors that affect timeframe and costs to get land development ready.

Challenges and Risks

While Alabama land investing has its advantages, there are also inherent challenges and risks to consider:

  • Alabama is still a relatively rural state overall, with land development largely centered around major metro areas. Remote parcels can be difficult to sell without price concessions.
  • Seasonal natural disasters like Gulf Coast hurricanes, flooding, and severe storms pose damage risks to land - proper insurance is a must.
  • Land liquidity can be low at times, depending on market conditions and local demand drivers. Marketing and negotiations are often required to surface buyers, taking 1-2 years in some cases.
  • Government policy changes, rising taxes or interest rates could negatively impact returns over the long-run.

Performing thorough due diligence along with customized land management and marketing strategies help mitigate these downside concerns for Alabama land investments.

Where to Buy Alabama Land

Prime locations to target Alabama land purchases from an investment standpoint center around major population hubs with strong job/business growth forecasts:

Birmingham Metro – Alabama’s largest urban area, with sizable industrial, technology and banking sectors. Suburban sprawl supports a thriving housing market and ongoing development demand for well-located parcels.

Huntsville Metro - An aerospace, defense and technology hub with close ties to NASA and military operations at Redstone Arsenal. Rapid population growth makes it one of the hottest real estate investment markets statewide.

Montgomery Metro - The state capital and Montgomery County area features a blend of government, education and corporate employers. A robust I-85/I-65 logistics corridor also spurs associated warehousing/industrial development.

Baldwin County - Situated along Intercoastal Waterway and Gulf Shores coastline, Baldwin boasts top-ranked beaches, resorts, retirement communities and quaint towns. Soaring home prices demonstrate massive investor appetite.

Auburn/Opelika - Anchored by Auburn University, this East Alabama corridor along I-85 is a retail/sports hub. Continued mixed-use construction and housing demand makes land here a smart play.

Research commercial Realtor data on current business activity, economic growth metrics and planned developments before choosing specific sub-markets to target within these high-potential zones.

Working With a Land Company

For those seeking a more hands-off approach to Alabama land investment, working with a land company like Land Boss can relieve the hassles of direct ownership. Land companies provide complete turnkey services like:

  • Acquiring discounted land parcels at wholesale prices through seamless cash transactions
  • Paying all taxes/fees and handling ownership responsibilities
  • Managing land assets for interim timber and agricultural lease income
  • Marketing/selling land on your behalf when ready

Land Boss has closed over 100 successful land transactions across its 5 years in business. While we do seek discounted buys, Land Boss conducts fair market analysis and offers competitive prices respectful of sellers’ needs. Our expertise avoids the pitfalls vacant land owners often encounter trying to navigate this complex market independently.

Selling via Land Boss lets owners avoid the 1-2 year headache most endure attempting to market land on their own. We tap specialized investor networks with demand for timberland, farms and development acreage - surfacing buyers much faster.

Final Thoughts

Alabama land can deliver strong investment returns over time if selected and managed prudently based on location fundamentals and market conditions. While not without risks, Alabama real estate continues to possess long-term income and profit upside potential as the state economy expands. Conducting due diligence around market value, interim uses and development demand indicators is key to maximizing results. Partnering with a land company like Land Boss can provide added expertise and convenience for passive land investors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of land are best for investment in Alabama? 

The most common investment lands in Alabama suited for profit are timberland, farms with row crop/cattle leases, and vacant development land near major cities. Plots with water access, roadway frontage or resources like natural gas/minerals also hold great long-term potential.

How risky is land investment in Alabama? 

There are inherent risks of natural disasters, market volatility and long marketing times associated with land investing in Alabama. Performing due diligence around location, interim uses and ownership responsibilities helps mitigate risk over the long term. Diversifying across multiple parcels further reduces risk exposure for investors.

What returns can I expect from Alabama investment land? 

Target 10-15% average annual returns from a diversified portfolio of Alabama investment lands. This factors annual lease incomes in the 3-5% range and 6-12% average land price appreciation over 5-10 year hold periods under sound management. Individual market conditions and parcel attributes heavily influence results.

What about taxes on Alabama investment land? 

Alabama has relatively low property tax rates, averaging around 0.5% of assessed value statewide. Some rural counties offer preferential agricultural land rates. Capital gains taxes apply on profits when selling land, with deductions available for costs like improvements made while owning. Consult a tax pro about maximizing tax incentives around land.

How much does land in Alabama cost? 

Average land prices range widely from $1,500 per acre in rural areas to over $30,000 per acre for residential development land surrounding major metros. Regional differences, parcel size, road access and improvements like fencing or buildings impact pricing as well. Comparing values of recent sales for similar land is key.

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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