Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Nevada

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Nevada
By

Bart Waldon

Nestled in the western United States, Nevada is a state known for its arid deserts, vibrant cities like Las Vegas and Reno, and wide open rural spaces filled with rugged beauty. For these reasons and more, buying land in Nevada has emerged as an appealing investment or lifestyle choice for many over the years. However, there are also important pros and cons to weigh when considering Nevada land purchases.

Introducing the Silver State

Before diving into the specifics around land buying, it helps to understand more about Nevada itself. Known as the “Silver State” due to its mining heritage, Nevada has diverse landscapes ranging from barren deserts to pine-forested mountains. While much of the state is rural and sparsely populated outside of the Las Vegas and Reno metro regions, these open spaces provide ample land buying opportunities.

Nevada’s economy leans on tourism, gaming/casinos, and mining, but has grown in recent decades to include more manufacturing, logistics, data centers, and renewable energy production. With no state income tax and a business-friendly environment, the state continues expanding its economic horizons.

Meanwhile, Nevada’s population surpassed 3 million in 2016 and continues growing at nearly double the national rate. So, the market for buying and selling land is less stagnant here compared to other western states.

Below we’ll explore the promising upsides of buying land in Nevada along with the challenging downsides to account for.

Pros of Buying Land in Nevada

There are good reasons why buying land in a state like Nevada has spurred so much interest from investors, developers, and prospective residents alike.

Less Expensive Pricing

Compared to its neighboring western states, Nevada offers very reasonably priced land on average. Recent figures for vacant rural land put average prices around $1,500 per acre on the low end to $3,000 per acre on the high end based on county location and other factors. This advantage holds up when looking at the state overall.

Nevada also has lower property and land transfer taxes compared to states like California, Oregon, and Washington. Altogether this means reduced buying costs getting into raw land for those looking to purchase plots, parcels, and acreage.

Strong Population and Economic Growth

As mentioned already, Nevada is rapidly growing its population base and expanding economic output. The greater Las Vegas area was the fastest growing metropolitan region by percentage between 2000-2010. And Reno’s story is similar with feeding off Bay Area transplants.

Much of Nevada’s recent growth traces back to companies and residents seeking lower costs of living and conducting business compared to pricey California. This momentum bodes well for land investors and developers. And even small land plots see localized demand growth potential around Nevada’s urban centers.

Tourism Industry Strength

Besides the massive 40+ million visitors that Las Vegas draws annually prior to the pandemic, Nevada enjoys many other tourist destinations like Lake Tahoe, Death Valley National Park, the neon-lit towns of Reno and Laughlin, and outdoor recreation from hiking to ski resorts.

So, land holdings near any of these attractions offer income potential whether flipped to buyers wanting to move closer or converted into direct rental properties. Rural residential land also appeals to those wanting easy access to Nevada’s natural wonders.

Abundant Natural Resources

Nevada’s large mining industry pulls substantial natural resources from the earth here like gold, silver, copper, lithium, and iron ore among others. It ranks #1 in the U.S. for gold production. Renewable solar and geothermal energy production has also grown significantly to capitalize on the ample sun and underground heat.

Thus, Nevada land can provide royalty lease opportunities depending on mineral, water, or energy rights included with deeds. Or sizable land holdings set the stage for direct renewable energy farms. These natural assets add to the state’s land value strengths.

Cons of Buying Land in Nevada

At the same time, buyers need to carefully weigh a few disadvantages often found when purchasing Nevada land.

Water Access Challenges

The obvious reality about much of Nevada is the largely arid desert landscape and scarce water sources. While the mountainous regions certainly get ample snow and rainfall to feed lakes, streams, and vegetation, the lower basins see less reliable precipitation.

So, a land buyer should thoroughly research the water rights tied to any property under consideration. Understanding seasonal access to water for needs like irrigation farming, livestock, timber, or basic residential use is crucial. Without firm water rights, otherwise attractive land deals can fall apart.

Additionally, Nevada has experienced drought conditions frequently over the last couple decades. So even land holdings with water rights can face usage limits when nature provides less. Creative water harvesting solutions help, but may add costs.

Off-grid Rural Areas

Over 85% of Nevada qualifies as rural open space. And the vast segments located far from urban centers generally lack much infrastructure for electricity, sewer/septic access, gas lines, internet connectivity, etc.

Bringing these utilities to remote land plots carries high costs in trenching, equipment, permits, labor and more. Mobile or temporary solutions exist in solar panels, generators, tanks, satellite internet, etc, but entail more maintenance.

So, land buyers need to account for potentially big development expenses when acquiring acreage in the more off-grid regions of Nevada.

Vulnerability to Market Swings

During strong economic periods like from 2004-2006, Nevada land values climbed precipitously amidst speculative investing and rapid growth. However, once the Great Recession hit nationally, Nevada saw especially sharp declines in land prices as its housing and job markets plunged. The pandemic triggered similar initially volatility recently as well.

Though the land market has stabilized again, prospective buyers still face some added risk of value changes tied to Nevada’s openness to external market factors. The upside brings those fast-rising values, while the downside means preparing for big dropoffs when economic winds shift.

Planning Your Nevada Land Purchase

If the rewards of buying land in Nevada now appeal more than the risks and challenges after weighing everything, some helpful tips can guide you towards smart purchases:

  • Define clear goals for how you want to use and profit from the land whether constructing rentals, flipping, farming, etc. This focuses viable property searching.
  • Engage licensed professionals for tasks like title searching, surveys, environmental assessments, zoning confirmations, etc to avoid overlooking costly issues.
  • Thoroughly vet all access considerations like roads, easements, rights of way to avoid headaches reaching the land after purchase.
  • Hire legal help to carefully review all water rights, mineral rights, etc tied to prospective lands before closing.
  • If developing raw land, plan timing/budgets for bringing basic utilities if lacking near purchase sites.
  • Research locations poised for population growth and infrastructure investment when evaluating sales or holds.

Closing Thoughts

While buying land in Nevada brings attractive upside like affordability and growth potential, assessing the water access, development costs, and market volatility concerns remains crucial as well. Those willing to strategize around the challenges can tap into a promising market for land ownership in the Silver State. Just partner with savvy real estate and legal experts along the way.

Nevada offers luring promise under the wide western skies for those chasing land investment returns or peaceful residential refuge. But tread carefully over the rugged terrain by first understanding the lay of the land through and through.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does vacant land typically cost per acre in Nevada?

On average, vacant rural land sells for $1,500 - $3,000 per acre depending on the county location and other factors like access and utilities. More remote or rugged parcels sell for less while those nearer cities or amenities sell for more.

What parts of Nevada are seeing the most growth currently?

Las Vegas and Reno metro regions have expanded most rapidly in recent decades. But favorable growth is also happening along the I-80 corridor connecting Reno to Lake Tahoe. And parts of central Nevada offer affordable land access near tourism destinations like Death Valley.

What percentage of Nevada's economy involves mining natural resources?

About 15% of the state's total economic output comes from mining sectors like precious metals, lithium, iron, copper, and geothermal energy production. This natural resource industry and related land rights remain key aspects of overall land value here.

Is it expensive to install basic utilities on my land purchase in rural Nevada? 

Yes, introducing electricity, internet, sewer/septic access, gas, etc. to more remote Nevada land typically carries substantial development costs. Creative off-grid solutions can help manage these infrastructure expenses long-term if on a budget.

How long does vacant land take to sell on average in Nevada? 

In a normal growing market, desirable land parcels priced appropriately can sell within 12 months on average. But less accessible plots or regions impacted by temporary declines may take 1-2 years to find buyers. Proactive promotion and reasonable asking prices keep land selling more quickly.

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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