Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Wisconsin

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Wisconsin

Bart Waldon

Wisconsin is located in the Great Lakes region of the United States, bordered by Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and the Mississippi River. Known for its lakes, forests and farmlands, Wisconsin offers beautiful scenery and outdoor recreational activities. When considering buying land in Wisconsin, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Pros of Buying Land in Wisconsin

Lower Cost Compared to Other States 

Land prices in Wisconsin tend to be more affordable than many other states. The average price per acre for vacant recreational land is around $2,500, compared to over $8,000 per acre in states like Colorado. This makes Wisconsin appealing for those looking to buy larger parcels of rural land or hunting/farmland on a budget. With over 15 million acres of forested land covering nearly half the state, there are ample woodland parcels available.

Recreational Opportunities

With over 15,000 lakes, 33,000 miles of rivers and streams and 5.3 million acres of public hunting land, Wisconsin is a recreational paradise. From fishing and hunting to hiking and wildlife viewing, there are ample opportunities for outdoor activities on private land. The lakefront properties provide boating, swimming and breathtaking views that make land ownership desirable for recreation and tourism uses.

Long Growing Season 

Wisconsin benefits from a long growing season, with moderate temperatures and fertile soil. This makes land suitable for farming and agricultural use, from dairy and livestock to fruit orchards and specialty crops. The rich glacial soils in the southern part of the state are excellent for large and small-scale crop cultivation. Those looking for ranch land, timber land or farm land will find Wisconsin’s climate conducive to agricultural production.

Peaceful Country Lifestyle

In many parts of rural Wisconsin, land buyers can find seclusion and open spaces away from congested cities. The natural beauty and slower pace offers an appealing draw for those desiring a peaceful countryside lifestyle change on their own property. Cabins tucked along forested acreage provide private getaway destinations.

Cons of Buying Land in Wisconsin

Harsher Winter Climate 

While offering plenty of warm weather recreation, Wisconsin winters can be bitterly cold and snowy. Rural lands see regular snow accumulation over long periods that can impact accessibility and require heavy-duty equipment for clearing and management. Those planning to live on the land year-round should be prepared for harsh winter weather conditions. Building roadway access and even basic travel across acreage can be extremely difficult in the winter months in northern and western regions.

Soil Drainage Issues

The flat plains and high water table cause drainage problems in some regions of Wisconsin. This can make developing buildings, septic systems or infrastructure tricky in soggy areas. Careful assessment of the soil composition and drainage patterns is necessary when evaluating land parcels to understand limitations. Installing drainage tile systems may be necessary to redirect excess water before any construction projects.

Property Taxes 

Wisconsin has one of the highest property tax burdens in the U.S., with land owners paying an average 1.89% of assessed value. Taxes on vacant land can still amount to several hundred dollars annually even unimproved, which prospective buyers should account for in budgets. These costs can add up quickly for those owning larger acreages or multiple land parcels.

Long Listing Times 

Listings for land parcels often stay on the market for over 400 days in Wisconsin according to statistics. With fewer active buyers than available land for sale, sellers need patience finding a buyer who values their property. Working with specialized land buying companies can help facilitate faster transactions so property owners don’t have to wait as long hoping for a sale.

Strict Zoning Laws 

Wisconsin has complex zoning regulations that govern land use in municipalities and counties statewide. Before purchasing any lot or acreage, it’s essential to verify the zoning designation and compliant usage options such as outbuildings, residential structures or agricultural activities. Non-compliant properties may require lengthy variance applications before development moves forward as planned.

Differing Easements & Right-of-Ways

It's common for land parcels in Wisconsin to be subject to public or private easements and right-of-ways that can restrict usage or access. For example, utility companies often have power line easements crossing acreage. Legal records should be carefully reviewed for any defined public access, shared use or neglected rights that may complicate ownership.

Key Considerations When Buying Land in Wisconsin

After weighing the pros and cons, those looking to purchase land in Wisconsin should keep the following key factors in mind:

Get clear zoning information from the county or township before making an offer, including density allowances, setback minimums and use regulations. Make sure your intended purpose aligns with designated zoning.

Inspect not only the property itself but also accessibility, roads leading to the parcel and conditions that may impact transport like waterway crossings. Land may be beautiful but difficult to reach year-round.

Evaluate cell signal coverage if you plan to live on the land for consistent communications and internet capability. Much of rural Wisconsin lacks reliable connectivity which impacts daily living.

Research permits needed for development like well drilling, septic installation and dredging/filling wetland areas before budgeting build costs. Some projects may not be approved.

Account for regular ongoing ownership costs like taxes, land maintenance, snow removal, agriculture infrastructure upkeep and travel. Expenses add up for remote properties.

Consider working with specialized real estate brokers or land companies familiar with buying and selling vacant land if needing to sell property quickly or maximize return. They offer expertise to facilitate transactions.

Overall the natural beauty and more affordable prices make Wisconsin appealing for land buyers seeking large rural acreage. But like any major purchase, those looking for land in Wisconsin need to do their due diligence weighing the rewards and drawbacks for their intended needs to make the most informed investment possible. Taking time to analyze all variables will ensure your real estate purchase meets goals now and for future enjoyment. With careful evaluation of zoning limitations, soil conditions, accessibility and utility connections, vacant land can be secured at good values to create your countryside retreat destinations.

Final Words

In summary, Wisconsin appeals to land buyers seeking affordable yet scenic rural acreage to enjoy outdoor recreational pursuits and peaceful country living. The abundance of forests, waterways and open spaces provide the perfect landscape for idyllic private ownership at appealing prices per acre compared to other regions nationwide. However the cold snowy winters, potential soil drainage challenges, property taxes and remote locations make preparing for ownership obligations crucial. Completing thorough due diligence takes time but yields the greatest reward for future enjoyment of Wisconsin’s pastoral settings whether hunting, farming, or simply relaxing in nature’s embrace. Protecting an investment through careful analysis, bringing in professional expertise plus planning development or recreational activities in harmony with land capabilities will lead to rewarding property ownership meeting your aspirations today and for years ahead. The variables weigh differently depending on the intended uses but Wisconsin certainly delivers options worth considering for your next major vacant land purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of land are most available for purchase in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has a diverse landscape, so the state offers a good mixture of farmland, hunting land, forested acreage, waterfront property, and land for rural residences. With nearly half the state covered in woodlands, there is especially abundant forest acreage in the Northwoods region and rural central Wisconsin up for sale at reasonable prices.

Does Wisconsin have programs to help first-time land buyers?

Yes, Wisconsin offers beginning farmer loan programs to support those buying agricultural land for the first time. These include both direct farm ownership loans as well as loan guarantees working with local lenders. Terms allow lower down payments, lower interest rates, and longer repayment periods tailored to those just starting out buying farm real estate.

What annual taxes or fees apply to owning vacant land?

All Wisconsin land parcels are subject to annual property taxes which are paid to the county. The taxes are calculated based on the assessed or market value of the vacant land. Additionally, some municipalities may charge land management or enforcement program fees on rural acreage to fund services like weed control, zoning inspection or fire protection."

Can I build any type of home or outbuildings on land zoned as recreational?

Usually not. The zoning designation determines what you may build or develop on a land parcel. Recreationally zoned properties in Wisconsin limit construction to small ancillary structures like hunting cabins or storage sheds rather than full-time residences in most cases. Check with the county zoning authority before purchasing to know development rights.

Is financing available for buying vacant land in Wisconsin?

Yes, there are loan programs specifically tailored for purchasing undeveloped land. Wisconsin real estate agents connected with lenders skilled in rural land loans can help buyers explore financing options requiring lower down payments with extended repayment periods to purchase property based on its potential development value.

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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