Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Missouri

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Missouri
By

Bart Waldon

Missouri, the “Show Me State” located in the Midwestern United States, offers beautiful landscapes encompassing plains, hills, mountains and rivers. With a population of over 6 million, Missouri provides a low cost of living coupled with a variety of economic opportunities. For these reasons, buying land in Missouri can be an attractive investment for many. However, there are also drawbacks to consider. This article will provide a helpful guide weighing the key pros and cons of buying land in Missouri to help you make an informed decision.

Overview of Missouri

Missouri features a diverse landscape, with the Ozark Mountains and lush forests in the southern half of the state, and plains and hills in the central and northern regions. The Missouri River forms the northern border, while the Mississippi River shapes part of the eastern side. There is an abundance of streams, natural springs and reservoirs as well.

Major cities and population hubs in Missouri include Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia, Independence and Lee's Summit. Other sizable communities continue to see expansion, especially in the southwestern corner nearing Arkansas. With a total population of over 6.1 million residents as per 2020 census data, Missouri ranked 18th among U.S. states in total population.

Compared to national averages, Missouri offers a very economical cost of living index score of 86.9. This makes factors like taxes, goods & services as well as housing very affordable for residents and prospective land buyers. And with interstate highways, commercial railways, barge accessibility, airports and even port terminals, Missouri serves as a prime transportation hub in America's heartland.

Economically, there is diversity across industries like aerospace, automotive manufacturing, food processing, health sciences, financial services and commercial crops production. Tourism is also huge, with major attractions like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Lake of the Ozarks, and entertainment hubs in Branson and Kansas City bringing in substantial visitor revenues each year. From sports teams to award-winning barbecue, Missouri offers plenty to experience culturally as well.

Pros of Buying Land in Missouri

Affordable Pricing

Compared to land prices nationally, Missouri provides relatively affordable vacant plots and acreages. Both undeveloped recreational/hunting land and farmland can be purchased at reasonable rates. For example, average crop and pasture land prices recently sit around $4,500/acre in Missouri compared to over $9,000+/acre in states like Illinois and Iowa. This makes buying acreages very attractive from a value perspective.

In 2020, the statewide average selling price for vacant rural residential/hobby farms in Missouri was approximately $2,700 per acre according to the state's Farmland Value Survey. But prices range widely based on location, terrain, road access and other factors. For instance, southeastern counties like Scott and New Madrid recently reported average per acre sales prices below $2,000. Yet fertile cropland to the north in more populated areas near Kansas City can demand $10,000+ per acre.

With forests and mountainous regions in the southern half of Missouri, significant acreages of timberland and recreational properties sell for even lower prices per acre compared to crop ground. Recent sales data shows average prices varying from $800/acre in the western Ozarks to $1,400/acre in the southeast. So buyers looking for hunting land, to build cabins or lease out to outdoor enthusiasts can find good value on these types of parcels.

Recreation and Tourism Potential

In addition to hunting/fishing recreational lands, Missouri offers enormously popular tourist destinations as well. Major lakes like Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Truman and the Lake of the Ozarks draw millions of visitors annually. The beautiful Ozark Mountains hold appeal for outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, camping and more. Trendy entertainment and cultural hubs also thrive in spots like Branson, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Within driving distance for millions across nearby Midwest states, Missouri tourism and hospitality supports substantial economic impacts. Tourism brought nearly $17 billion in visitor spending according to the state’s 2021 statistics, making it Missouri’s 2nd largest industry.

So buyers looking at land plots in high demand recreational zones or along key travel corridors could potentially develop successful rental cabin properties or other commercial hospitality businesses. With tourism remaining vibrant and Missouri's affordability attracting more visitors, savvy land investors or entrepreneurs may unlock lucrative income streams this route.

Business Incentive Programs

Missouri offers attractive incentives for businesses investing in the state, supporting economic development across industries like manufacturing, tech services, biosciences and transportation/logistics. These include tax credits, training/workforce grants, infrastructure assistance programs and more. Companies investing to build new facilities can receive statutory tax exemptions on inventories, machinery and equipment.

So land buyers interested in eventually building commercial facilities on purchased plots can tap into these programs down the road. Industrial projects are increasing with lots of demand shown for new warehouse space and business parks in metro areas like Kansas City and Columbia lately.

The state also focuses special attention towards rural regional development, with custom incentive packages to foster growth in agriculture, small manufacturing and other sectors in outlying areas. So those planning agricultural or niche industrial activities could benefit as well from Missouri's business assistance.

Cons of Buying Land in Missouri

Volatile Agricultural Market Trends

While Missouri farmland prices seem reasonable compared to states further west or in the Great Lakes regions, agricultural land markets have demonstrated considerable volatility over the past decade. Following the commodity price boom years in the early 2010s, both crop and livestock sector market values retreated.

Average Missouri cropland prices peaked around $5,400/acre in 2014, then faced consecutive year-over-year declines into 2019 when they bottomed out around $3,500/acre. Pasture and grazing land faced similarly drastic 30%+ drops from 2013 peaks over $3,300 per acre to under $2,300 by the beginning of 2020.

Agricultural commodity and input prices now show signs of recovering once again, and land prices are ticking upwards as a result. But overall the agricultural real estate market has proven difficult to predict going forward. This contributes an element of risk for land buyers focused on buying farms or ranches within Missouri for crop or livestock production.

Variable Climate and Natural Disasters

Missouri's central location leaves it exposed to a variety of extreme weather events year-round. Summer heat waves can crest 100+ degrees at times. While winter cold snaps occasionally drive wind chill temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit, with average annual snowfalls approaching 20 inches in the northern half of the state.

Spring tornadoes pose a frequent threat, especially across central Missouri counties. The region falls squarely in “Tornado Alley” with some of the highest occurrences in the U.S. Flooding represents another concern near the major rivers and within the Ozark valleys. Even drought can develop periodically during hot summers in the more arid western plains.

Overall, Missouri experiences multiple billion-dollar disaster events in a typical decade. Floods, hail damage and tornadoes can wreak havoc on buildings, infrastructure and crops. So owners of rural acreages or agricultural properties face higher risks of expensive storm repairs or lost income potential.

Remote Parcel Drawbacks

While Missouri may offer some bargains on vacant land for sale in rural areas, financial drawbacks can arise when purchasing remote plots lacking accessibility or infrastructure. Without adequate road access or utility availability, costs to clear timber, grade land and install electricity, septic systems or wells to develop raw acreage can quickly become exorbitant.

Distance from population centers or connections to transportation corridors can also hamper usage for commercial facilities, residential subdivisions or productive cropland. Extensive improvements may ultimately outstrip any upfront savings from the land's purchase price and create headaches for owners. So fully investigating infrastructure needs on undeveloped parcels before buying is advisable.

Reselling Rural Land Difficulties

Alternatively, those buying land in Missouri's hinterlands solely as an investment with hopes of reselling it quickly could encounter problems. Attempting to wholesale vacant rural land typically requires deep discounts from full retail market prices most sellers expect. Listing bare farmland, timber or idle recreational acreage for retail sale often demands extensive lengths of time to attract interested buyers as well.

Industry statistics indicate parcels of vacant land with no revenue-generating improvements in place take quite a while to market successfully. Rural land listings can linger for months or even years before a sale transpires in many cases across Missouri. Owners must dedicate substantial money and effort towards advertising, promotion and showing land to eventual sell at top dollar.

These risks and carrying costs discourage those looking for a fast land flip. However, Missouri’s natural beauty, affordable prices and business incentives still hold appeal for both new residents as well as investors with longer-term development plans or commercial sale objectives over 1-2 years out.

Final Words

Missouri offers beautiful and often affordable recreational/agricultural land for buyers wanting to invest or pursue property ownership dreams. However, risks around agricultural and land value unpredictability, natural disasters and infrastructure costs on undeveloped plots warrant consideration. For commercial uses, Missouri's centralized location within America’s heartland and business incentives pose advantages. Yet challenges quickly reselling vacant rural land without intensive sales and marketing efforts dampen its attractiveness primarily as a short-term real estate investment vehicle. Weighing both pros and cons before purchasing land in Missouri can determine if the opportunity matches your needs and objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of land are available for purchase in Missouri?

Missouri has a range of land types for sale including cropland, pastureland, forest/timberland, recreational properties, and commercial development land. There is also vacant acreage both near cities and in rural regions across Missouri for various uses.

What factors most influence land prices when buying acreage in Missouri?

Key factors impacting land prices per acre include location, parcel size, road/highway access, terrain, improvements like fencing/buildings, availability of utilities, soil quality and whether there is income generated from activities allowed on the land. Nearby surrounding land use also affects valuation.

What is the process for buying land in Missouri?

The process involves identifying suitable parcels for sale from land listing sites, realtors or public notices, researching details like zoning regulations on the land’s allowable usage, arranging financing if required, and making an offer. After offer acceptance, the buyer conducts due diligence like title searches before closing.

What closing costs can a buyer expect when purchasing Missouri land?

Typical closing fees when buying land in Missouri include legal fees for document preparation, taxes and government recording charges prorated to cover the remainder of the year, title insurance, financing costs and inspections if applicable. Total closing costs often range 1-5% of the final negotiated sales price.

Can a buyer build structures like homes or outbuildings on vacant land purchased in Missouri?

Most vacant land parcels allow building homesteads or outbuildings like barns, equipment sheds etc., but buyers should research regulations on structures permitted based on factors like parcel agricultural or zoning designation with the county. Septic system requirements also impact development feasibility. Approvals may be required.

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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