Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Oregon

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Oregon
By

Bart Waldon

Oregon is a scenic state located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Known for its vast forests, beaches, high deserts and mountains, Oregon offers great diversity and natural beauty that appeals to many looking to purchase land. With its moderate climate, lack of sales tax and abundance of outdoor recreational activities, Oregon has become an increasingly popular destination for those looking to buy property, retire or establish a second home.

Before deciding if Oregon is the right state for your land purchase, it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Oregon offers much to love, but also comes with some drawbacks to consider depending on your needs.

Overview of Oregon

Oregon spans 98,466 square miles, making it the ninth largest state in the U.S. Its terrain consists of lush temperate rain forests in the western portion of the state, the towering peaks of the Cascade Mountain Range running north-south through central Oregon, high desert plateaus to the east and 300 miles of scenic Pacific Ocean coastline.

The state enjoys mild temperatures, with average summer highs ranging from the 80s F on the coast to the 90s F inland. Winters are cool and wet, with plentiful rain west of the Cascades and snow common in the mountains.

Oregon’s economy relies heavily on agriculture and lumber, though the tech sector has been growing in cities like Portland and Bend. No sales tax coupled with the lack of inventory taxes and estate taxes make it an attractive state for property owners and retirees alike.

Let’s explore some of the key advantages and potential drawbacks of purchasing land in this Pacific Northwest gem.

Pros of Buying Land in Oregon

Scenic Beauty and Year-Round Recreational Offerings

For those looking to buy raw land to build a private residence, establish a vacation getaway spot or even live off the grid, Oregon offers diverse landscapes that span ocean vistas to high desert plains and snow-capped mountain peaks. The state is renowned for its wealth of state/national parks, rivers, lakes and forests that provide exceptional sightseeing, hiking, camping, fishing, boating, skiing and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love having immediate access to these world-class recreational offerings right out their backyard by owning a piece of Oregon property.

Moderate Climate

While the phrase “mild and wet” is often used to describe Oregon’s climate west of the Cascades, many appreciate the relatively warm, dry summers and lack of extreme weather that makes outdoor living enjoyable much of the year. Eastern and central Oregon see even less precipitation, with more sunshine and high desert climates.

The moderate climate allows construction projects to continue through much of fall, winter and early spring as well - an advantage over states prone to more severe winters.

No Sales Tax

Oregon is currently one of only five U.S. states with no state sales tax, so consumers keep more money in their pockets. Property owners also save on tax when making large purchases for their land like construction materials, landscaping tools/plants and farming equipment.

While the state can still collect taxes in other ways, the lack of sales tax remains a perk for Oregon land buyers and long-term owners alike.

Plentiful Groundwater

Water access is a major consideration for any land purchase. Fortunately, most areas of Oregon sit atop abundant groundwater supplies, with plentiful annual rainfall (75+ inches in parts of western Oregon) feeding watersheds, rivers and aquifers.

While some monitoring and permitting are still required before drilling a well, Oregon land often comes with readily available fresh water as compared to arid states. Just be sure to research water rights for any properties that interest you.

Affordable Acreage

While price varies greatly based on factors like location, zoning and services/utilities available, Oregon offers very affordable acreage compared to other western states. Raw land can start around $1,000/acre in rural areas or smaller parcels between $20k-$60k. Even with development costs added in, establishing property remains cheaper than neighboring California or Washington.

For those wishing to live off-grid and keep costs down, affordable acreage makes Oregon especially attractive. The potential exists to buy larger, lower-priced parcels farther from big cities to customize your own private Oregon retreat.

Cons of Buying Land in Oregon

While reasons abound to purchase property in Oregon, several factors also deserve careful evaluation, including:

Rainy Seasons

If you prefer sunny bluebird days, Oregon winters often come with persistent overcast skies, chilly temperatures and periods of drizzly rain west of the Cascades. While precipitation provides the backdrop for Oregon’s lush landscapes, some may find the winter/early spring grayness depressing.

Snow in the mountains does make for excellent skiing if you don’t mind bundling up. And eastern Oregon sees far more sunshine during winter than western valleys. But the rainy season can still damper enjoyment of the outdoors for stretches at a time.

Remote Locations

More affordable land parcels tend to reside farther from major population centers like Portland or Bend. And eastern Oregon in particular has vast stretches of agricultural land, high desert and forests with very limited services for hundreds of miles.

While the remoteness enhances privacy, land buyers must factor in great distances to hospitals, shopping and social/cultural offerings that more suburban or urban locations provide. Isolation also makes construction, medical care, snow removal and other property maintenance more challenging.

Complex Zoning/Land Use Laws

Over the decades, Oregon enacted a series of stringent land use regulations that dictate development based on zoning classification. So while cheaper land parcels exist, buyers may discover density restrictions, limitations on construction square footage, or agriculture/forest designations that reduce property flexibility.

Navigating Oregon’s web of state/county land use and zoning laws poses challenges requiring research ahead of any purchase. Know exactly what the land can legally support before committing funds.

Restrictive Permitting

Related to zoning, Oregon mandates permitting processes for clearing trees, grading land, building structures, drilling wells, installing septic systems and more. Permit approval waits of 3-6 months are not uncommon as state/county offices work through application backlogs.

In addition, permits often come with expensive fees, mandated inspections, cost add-ons and other bureaucratic hurdles. The permitting regime demands patience and selectively targeting land parcels already prepped for development whenever possible.

State Tax/Fee Creep

While Oregon lacks a general sales tax, the state and counties continue searching for ways to increase revenues. New taxes proposed in recent years include everything from soda taxes to employee taxes to road usage fees. And existing fees for permits, licenses, gas, cigarettes, business taxes, transient occupancy taxes and property taxes manage to rise yearly.

Tax/fee hikes seem destined to continue as budgets expand, making this a consideration for land buyers evaluating Oregon’s ongoing tax friendliness.

Key Takeaways on Oregon Land Purchases

  • Oregon offers great climate, natural landscapes and recreation that appeal to land buyers and those looking to establish vacation getaway properties or future retirement havens.
  • However, wet winters, remote locations far from city conveniences, strict development laws and rising taxes deserve consideration depending on your needs.
  • Conduct extensive research ahead of any land purchase on zoning, parcel development costs, permitting wait times, utility/service proximity and tax implications before committing funds.

Oregon provides affordable acreage with plenty of pros certain buyers will appreciate. But its complex web of land use statutes and unpredictable climate call for an eyes-wide-open evaluation based on intended property use. Proper planning and setting realistic expectations will lead to better land investment outcomes.

Final Thoughts

Deciding whether to buy land in Oregon requires weighing several compelling pros against the potential drawbacks inherent to the area. While rich natural beauty, outdoor recreation and the lack of sales tax hold great appeal, remote locations, rain-soaked winters and complex development laws call for measured evaluation based on your needs and lifestyle. Conducting diligent research on zoning restrictions, construction costs, tax implications and more will allow buyers to pursue affordable acreage aligned with their visions. For expert guidance securing your own Oregon land haven, companies like Land Boss offer area knowledge and resources to help navigate the entire purchase or sale process. With proper planning and eyes-wide-open, buying property in this Pacific Northwest gem can deliver an idyllic retreat to enjoy for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average cost per acre to buy land in Oregon?

Land prices vary greatly based on location, parcel size and zoning, but as of 2022, the median sale price for vacant land is around $3,500 per acre in rural counties to over $10,000 per acre in high demand areas near Portland or Bend.

What types of land are available to purchase in Oregon?

Oregon land types include forested mountain acreage, high desert plateau parcels, farmland along valley floors, riverfront properties, ocean view coastal lots, ranchland and more based on geography and designated use.

What financing options exist for buying Oregon land?

Buyers can pay cash, take out a land-secured loan, leverage sweat equity partnerships, enter rent-to-own contracts, use owner financing from sellers or tap home equity lines of credit. Companies like Land Boss also purchase properties directly with cash offers.

What utility/service-related factors should I research before buying land?

Evaluate cell reception, high-speed internet availability, proximity to electricity lines, phone line access, distance to central sewer/septic suitability, soil composition, depth to groundwater and easements/rights of way on any parcels.

How restrictive are zoning laws and permitting processes in Oregon?

County land use and state environmental protection codes dictate development density, tree removal limitations, grading allowances and building size/footprints. Expect 3-6 month waits for the permitting required before site improvements. Hire experts to navigate.

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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