Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Kansas

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Kansas
By

Bart Waldon

Kansas is located in the Midwestern United States, known as the heartland of America. With its sprawling plains, fertile farmland and sunshine galore, Kansas seems like an ideal place to purchase land for farming, recreation or investment. Before committing to buy land in the Sunflower State, it’s wise to understand the key pros and cons to make an informed decision.

Overview of Kansas

Kansas is centrally located in the contiguous United States with interstate highways crisscrossing the state making transport convenient. The state has a population of about 2.9 million residents, with most living in two major metropolitan areas – Wichita and the Kansas City metro region. Kansas' economy relies heavily on agriculture and related industries like food processing. Wheat, corn, beef cattle, soybeans and sorghum are some of the leading products. Kansas also has an emerging aviation manufacturing sector centered in Wichita. The state is best known for its agriculture heritage and supporters of Kansas State University sports teams are dubbed “Farmers”.

Kansas has a low cost of living compared to national average along with affordable housing. The state has four distinct seasons with a diverse range of geography from the eastern forests to central plains to western prairie lands dotted with ranches and farms. There is plentiful of outdoor recreation with hiking trails, lakes, parks plus specialty attractions like botanical gardens and zoos. The culture has a mix of Western cowboy feel blended with Midwestern hospitality.

Pros of Buying Land in Kansas

Low-Cost Real Estate

Land prices in Kansas are economical, especially compared to coastal states. The availability of sizable parcels at reasonable rates makes the state appealing. According to recent statistics, the typical price per acre for Kansas farmland is around $2,100 which is below average nationally. Pasture and grazing land can be purchased for under $1,000 per acre in many rural counties. 

For recreational properties with timber and water resources, expect prices between $2,000 to $5,000 depending on amenity levels and location. Even near popular getaway areas like Hillsdale Lake, well-maintained building sites start around $10,000 for 0.5 acres up to $50,000 for 5+ wooded acres with lake views.

Ideal for Farming

The fertile soil, solid water access from Aquifer reservoirs plus low-cost land and taxes makes Kansas an ideal location for production agriculture. Major crops grown profitably include corn, soybeans, sorghum and wheat along with ranching operations for beef cattle. 

The central geography provides efficient transport logistics to connect farms across Kansas to processing facilities and markets. Support programs from Kansas State University and government agencies provide resources to promote successful family farming.

Outdoor Recreation

From rivers to rolling plains, there’s ample outdoor spaces across Kansas. Popular public lands include wildlife management areas for hunting, state fishing lakes plus federal reservoirs managed for recreation. The 22-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail near Council Grove is a world-class rails-to-trails conversion for hiking and biking. 

Lesser known is the 1,000+ mile route crossed by the Santa Fe, Oregon and California National Historic Trails tracing the paths of pioneers traveling westward that still exist to explore. ATVer’s frequent the nearly 1,800 mile dual sport motorcycle and off-road vehicle trail system funded by the state. Between public spaces and private working lands open for recreation via leases, there’s abundant natural areas to experience in Kansas.

Low Property Taxes

Kansas has relatively low property tax rates, especially for agricultural land uses which are assessed differently than residential single family homes. Productive farms and ranches have net tax rates under 1% of market value annually. For 2022, the average mill levy rate across Kansas counties was 1.5% equating to $15 in annual taxes per $1,000 in assessed valuation. 

Plus, Kansas has income tax deductions and agricultural exemptions that decrease total expense load for landowners. While taxes vary across jurisdictions, overall Kansas is considered tax friendly on property, income and other tax obligations.

Investment Opportunities

Both rural and urban Kansas offer investment opportunities related to land ownership beyond personal residential or recreational holdings. The state’s pro-business policies, developed infrastructure plus transportation advantages create demand for commercial and industrial property to support manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facilities. 

Multi-family housing projects are also desirable investments, especially in areas with major employment generators like military bases and college towns. Speculative investing for buy-and-hold vacant land in high-growth corridors can produce substantial long term returns too. Investing in Kansas land with development potential offers financial upsides.

Cons of Buying Land in Kansas

Seasonal Weather Extremes

While distinct seasons can be delightful, Kansas is notorious for weather variability from very hot summers to bitterly cold winters. Moisture patterns fluctuate also between droughts to torrential spring downpours. 

Maintaining agriculture crops, livestock and rural property infrastructure requires resilience planning to handle seasonal shifts. Urban homebuyers also must consider energy efficient housing plus indoor “weather readiness” for extreme temperature swings and thunderstorms during the year.

Rural Decline

Like other Midwest states, many rural Kansas counties are experiencing declines as family farm economics shift plus the emerging generation migrates to cities chasing careers. This leads to “hollowing out” of small towns challenged to retain businesses, school enrollment and adequate housing. 

For land buyers seeking acreages or recreational retreats, be prepared for ongoing decreases in local services, cultural amenities plus community vitality the further away from metropolitan zones. Evaluate area trends before assuming a sleepy small town will thrive long term.

Limited Public Lands

Under 5% of Kansas lands are public which ranks in the bottom five states for access managed explicitly for conservation and recreation. This pressures the limited state-controlled fishing lakes, federal reservoirs and wildlife refuges to provide the majority of public outdoor recreation. Otherwise accessing open spaces requires navigating the patchwork of private lands with various lease fees, trespass policies and ownership confusion. For area-sensitive nature lovers, the restricted public access can be quite frustrating.

Inconsistent Resale Market

While scarcity of listed properties keeps sale numbers stable year to year, Kansas has highly variable land values between regions and ever-changing commodity economics. Prime irrigated croplands will sell much differently than marginal grazing pastures. 

And recreational lands with water frontage or woodlands generate consumer bidding wars compared to remote building sites. Even adjacent parcels may appraise and sell for hugely different prices per acre due to access, terrain and improvements. Sellers cannot rely on comparables plus appraisals struggle to value rural Kansas lands accurately.

Key Takeaways on Kansas Land Investments

For outdoorsy types who value open spaces or farmers desiring affordable productive acreages, Kansas offers prime opportunities on the land investment front. The central location provides logistics advantages for transporting commodities produced plus accessibility for traveling to/from urban zones. Having four legitimate seasons gives residents and visitors a chance to enjoy a range of natural habitats across the plains and prairies.

Both urban centers with universities and regional hubs focused on agriculture, aviation and manufacturing provide employment and cultural amenities beyond sleepy small towns steadily declining. Property taxes are reasonable but buyers should still evaluate any special assessments before purchasing vacant land or improved farms with infrastructure requiring maintenance funds.

While limited public land access does funnel recreational users to fishing lakes and state parks, Kansas has ample flowing rivers, hiking/biking trails plus leased private lands for enjoying the outdoors with a bit of navigation. For hunters and anglers willing to secure access rights, there is productive habitat supporting deer, turkeys, waterfowl and bass/catfish sought after by sportsmen and women.

The hybrid mix of Midwest sensibilities, Western frontier spirit blended with downhome hospitality makes Kansas appealing for both full-time residents and visitors. Investing in land for agriculture, recreation, development or speculative appreciation all have potential upsides with careful research on localized market conditions and trends before committing capital.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of land are most commonly for sale in Kansas? 

The most common types of land for sale in Kansas are agricultural land such as farms, ranches, and pastureland. There are also some recreational properties, rural homes on acreage, and development land available.

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

An acre of land in Kansas costs around $2,100 on average for agricultural land according to recent statewide statistics. Prices can range from below $1,000 per acre for basic pasture up to over $10,000 per acre for irrigated cropland in prime areas.

Are there any incentives for farmers and ranchers buying agricultural land in Kansas? 

Yes, Kansas offers tax deductions, exemptions, and other incentives for bonafide agriculture producers buying farmland and ranchland across the state to support production. There are also USDA programs and Kansas State University resources available.

Does Kansas have property disclosure or other special real estate laws? 

Kansas requires sellers to complete a property condition disclosure form detailing defects they are aware exist on the property. There are also specific state laws involving legal descriptions, mineral rights transfers, deed filing procedures and other real estate matters.

What due diligence is recommended before buying vacant land in Kansas? 

It's important to research property access easements, confirm legal descriptions, survey boundaries if uncertain, plus evaluate surrounding land uses, water rights and development restrictions when buying vacant rural land in Kansas. Environmental testing for contamination may also be prudent.

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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