Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Arkansas

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Arkansas

Bart Waldon

Acquiring raw vacant land as stable long-term holdings appeals to investors and families across Arkansas seeking enduring alternatives to equities amid market uncertainties or as legacy assets benefiting future generations. The state's average per acre value for cropland currently sits at $4,070 according to 2022 USDA data, with pasture/rangeland averaging $2,500. Yet prices run higher around cities like Rogers primed for outskirt McMansion development as demand outpaces inventory. 

Despite lower returns than flip properties, advantages of strategic buys meeting lifestyle goals include inherent qualities land provides including privacy, food/resource production in retirement and portfolio diversification. Downsides hinge on often lengthy sell waits when location or resource factors fail to appreciate as hoped, carrying budgeting, legal contest risks and due diligence vetting items like access rights misdocumented in past estate transfers.

Key Geographic Regions of Arkansas

Arkansas features four primary geographical land regions, each with distinct characteristics:

  • The Ozark Mountains stretch across northwest and northcentral Arkansas with forested, rugged terrain perfect for fishing, hunting, hiking, and limestone cavern tours. Major cities like Fayetteville, Harrison, and Mountain Home help provide amenities nearby.
  • The Ouachita Mountains of west central Arkansas also provide mountains scenery, quartz crystal mining opportunities, and attractions like Hot Springs National Park for visitors.
  • Crowley's Ridge runs through the eastern side of the state near the Missouri border, made up of rolling hills, diverse wildlife, and fertile farmland. Jonesboro and Helena offer urban centers.
  • The flat, lush Arkansas Delta covers much of eastern and southeastern Arkansas with rich alluvial soil ideal for large-scale agriculture. The Mississippi River borders it with crops like cotton, rice and soybeans thriving in the hot, humid climate.

Consider how your lifestyle and goals align with these different areas when searching for land. Acreage needs and pricing can shift significantly moving between mountain terrain, crowded cities, remote countryside or riverside parcels.

The Potential Benefits of Buying Land in Arkansas

There are many compelling reasons why buying land in Arkansas could be advantageous for the right buyers. Possible upsides include:

Attractive Pricing on Rural Land Parcels

Raw, unimproved land can be purchased for $500 an acre or less depending on the exact location and other value factors. More desirable parcels with utilities, timber, water access or improvements may run higher but pricing often remains below regional averages, especially in the Ozarks and Delta. Carefully crunch numbers to identify good deals.

Long Growing Seasons and Fertile Land for Agriculture

Quality topsoil and moderate temperatures enabling growing seasons lasting up to eight months make much of Arkansas well-suited for row crop farms and cattle operations. Fruit orchards, produce farms, and forestry for wood product manufacturers also thrive across several regions. Where you buy influences production.

Combining a Home and Land Investment 

Rather than merely serving as a financial asset, land purchases in Arkansas frequently involve building a full-time residence or vacation getaway cabin. The state allows land buyers to both live on and enjoy their property as they choose while still benefiting from long-term appreciation. With strategic lot selection, owning wooded mountain acreage or a small hobby farm on Crowley’s Ridge or the Delta can become an idyllic homestead lifestyle for motivated buyers.

Strong Recreational Land Options 

Do you enjoy hunting whitetail deer and wild turkey, fishing for bass or trout, hiking the Ozark Highlands Trail, viewing migratory songbirds, or off-roading? Arkansas has outstanding recreational land opportunities across state forests, wildlife management areas, rivers, reservoirs, parks, and private lands. Even small, affordable acreage buys can access fantastic leisure if natural resources and public lands are nearby.

Investing in Fast Growing Cities and Regions 

Major population centers like Bentonville, Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Conway have experienced rapid expansion in recent years thanks to thriving universities, manufacturing hubs, tourism, affordable living, and outdoor attractions. Investing in raw land near these opportune cities can enable future development, construction, cashed-in sale profits, or simply long-term equity gains as valuation rises. But act quick before available inventory shrinks.

Potential Drawbacks of Buying Land in Arkansas

Of course, acquiring property in Arkansas also comes with downsides and risks to weigh before moving forward with a purchase. Be aware of the following potential disadvantages:

Severe Weather Events 

While moderate overall, Arkansas' weather brings occasional extremes. Thunderstorms, flash flooding, ice storms, and tornadoes disrupt communities during volatile seasons. Research a prospective property’s historical storm and flood vulnerability to avoid repeatedly repairing damages. Home insurance rates and buildability can shift drastically across a single county.

Questionable Mineral Rights 

Does the land parcel come with both surface property rights and sub-surface mineral rights? This important distinction affects owners in key ways. If a buyer only holds surface rights, it leaves the door open for others to access and extract valuable underground deposits or resources through easements. Deficient mineral rights lower property valuation and uses.

Limited Broadband Infrastructure 

Need reliable high-speed internet for work, streaming entertainment, video calls, education, telehealth, or a security system? Many rural areas of Arkansas currently lack adequate broadband infrastructure and wireless connectivity. Confirm a location’s communications capabilities or expect headaches from digital isolation.

Distance From Essential Amenities 

Occasional visits to remote wilderness acreage can be rejuvenating. But actually living long-term far from grocery stores, doctors, social hubs, quality schools, and conveniences grows old. How far is the land from emergency services, hospitals, power grids, and supplies? What future development plans exist nearby? Review proximity to amenities when evaluating raw land parcels.

What to Look for When Selecting Suitable Property

If aiming to purchase acreage in Arkansas suitable for your goals, let’s explore specifics to evaluate while performing due diligence:

  • Confirm mineral rights are included to avoid split ownership issues enabling others’ extractions from the land.
  • Walk property boundary lines and markers to validate total acreage, shape, easements encroachments limiting usage.
  • Verify parcel zoning, land usage regulations and tax rates with county planning department authorities before purchasing.
  • Hire surveys, percolation tests, flood zone assessments and inspections to identify risks, valuations, and improvement costs.
  • Traverse the actual access road and property interior across seasons to assess true maintainability expectations.
  • Research area weather history, FEMA flood maps, storm paths to avoid repetitive loss claims if developing.
  • Confirm viable utility access for future needs - electricity, well water, sewer, natural gas line proximity.

By taking a strategic approach and leveraging expert guidance, buyers can capitalize on Arkansas’ affordable land opportunities while navigating the major purchase safely and smartly.

Final Thoughts

Deciding whether to buy land in Arkansas warrants strategic reflection based on your intentions, budget, lifestyle needs, goals and risk appetite. While pricing can seem highly appealing, look beyond surface-level savings to correctly assess total ownership costs, development expenses, practicality for intended usage, and other obligations across the property’s lifespan. Perform in-depth due diligence tailored to nuances of the specific parcel and location under close consideration. Seek qualified legal and tax guidance to structure the purchase optimally as well. Address concerns upfront rather than down the road.

When aligned with your objectives and completed with eyes wide open, owning natural acreage in The Natural State can bear tremendous life enrichment, financial growth from appreciation, and generational legacy passing something tangible onto future heirs. Like any land investment, approach the opportunity using intellect plus intuition to determine fit. Arkansas continues opening its arms with affordability and abundance. But don’t take the inherent beauty at mere face value without contemplating everything the commitment entails if electing to buy-in yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of land are most available to buy in Arkansas?

There is a range available, including plots for residential use, agricultural use, recreational and hunting use, and forested mountain land. Much of the affordable land lies in rural areas best suited for agricultural, recreation, or building a secluded residence.

What does an acre of land cost in Arkansas on average?

Land prices vary drastically based on location and parcel amenities, but roughly between $2,000-$4,000 per acre on average. More remote, unimproved rural land can sell for $500 an acre or less, while small plots nearer cities with utilities may cost up to $15,000 per acre.

Can someone from out-of-state buy land in Arkansas?

Yes, there are no restrictions on out-of-state buyers purchasing Arkansas land. You do not need to establish residency or incorporate locally. The title and deed process for non-residents works similarly as for Arkansas residents.

What taxes and fees come with Arkansas land ownership?

You’ll be responsible for annual property taxes set by your county assessor, based on factors like property values, acreage, land use, and municipal tax rates. Additionally, insuring the land and addressing any liabilities or maintenance costs contributes to carrying costs.

Is financing available for buying raw land in Arkansas?

Financing land purchases through banks or lenders can be difficult compared to loans for developed properties. Many buyers choose to pay cash or leverage private financing terms with the seller. That said, some credit unions and community banks will lend for vacant land purposes after substantial down payments.

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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