The Best Counties to Buy Land in Arizona

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The Best Counties to Buy Land in Arizona

Bart Waldon

With over 113,000 square miles of diverse terrain spanning everything from mountain ranges and forests to canyons and desert, Arizona offers prime opportunities for investing in raw land. Determining the best counties to buy land in comes down to key factors like demand drivers, infrastructure access, zoning regulations and more. This guide explores the top Arizona counties for land buyers based on localized market conditions and growth potential.

Why Buying Arizona Land May Serve Investors Well

Arizona saw its population explode in recent decades, with over 7 million residents now calling the state home as people flock there for opportunities as well as the warm climate. Metro areas like Phoenix and Tucson rank among the fastest growing in the U.S.

This population boom means Arizona real estate often appreciates rapidly. Those able to get in early before land values spike stand to see strong returns on vacant property over time.

Beyond housing expansion, Arizona’s construction industry thrives off infrastructure investment and commercial projects as business relocate operations here. These developments consume open land - making raw land ownership lucrative in the right regions based on proposed projects.

For these reasons, acting sooner than later may reward land buyers and investors in Arizona markets positioned for new construction and population influxes.

Factors Impacting Arizona Land Value

While market conditions vary county-by-county, core factors influence land prices and demand across Arizona:

  • Water Access - Given large swaths of desert, property near aquifers, wells, utilities or with water rights commands higher valuations.
  • Transportation Infrastructure - Interstate access, railway transit and airports greatly lift land prospectus around key goods shipment channels.
  • Zoning Designations - Property viable for commercial, residential or industrial builds sees greater demand than restrictive recreational/conservation lands.
  • Job Creation - Corporate relocations and business park developments that bring employment to regions makes adjacent property more desirable.
  • Tourism Draws - Land around recreational attractions like National Parks or ski resorts see seasonal and investment interest for hospitality projects.

Considering these value impacting criteria, below are 3 top counties for securing promising land in Arizona from market conditions to long range growth outlook.

1. Maricopa County

As home to booming Phoenix and its nearly 5 million residents, Maricopa County ranks as the ideal locale to buy land in Arizona for several reasons:

  • Massive population growth over last decade, now 4th most populous county in USA
  • Hundreds of high tech firms relocating to Phoenix area
  • Ample interstate and rail access conveying goods/materials
  • Diverse economic drivers from aerospace to financial services
  • Wealth of tourism draws like golf courses, spas and MLB spring training
  • Plentiful subdivisions, master plans and commercial developments consuming land assets

Maricopa county also holds appeal owing to Arizona’s heavy investment in solar infrastructure across Phoenix and the surrounding region. This powers massive data centers taking root in the county while also transforming raw lands into income generating solar installations.

Metro Phoenix adds over 130 people daily on average. And the Greater Phoenix Economic Council projects area employment to expand another 13% by 2026. For both property development and solar land leasing, Maricopa County provides a robust growth environment to maximize land ownership.

2. Pima County

Centered around buzzing Tucson in southern Arizona, Pima County constitutes another smart land investment zone given rapid expansion and several key attributes:

  • Tucson is Arizona’s 2nd most populated city, seeing influxes from California and Midwest
  • The region added over 77,000 new residents since 2010
  • Major logistics infrastructure with rail lines and interstates 10, 19 and 8 connecting to ports
  • Home to University of Arizona (UA), Biosphere 2 and aerospace/defense industry giants
  • Diverse terrain from cactus filled deserts to evergreen national forests

Pima’s economic development group estimates countywide employment to swell by over 160,000 private sector jobs before 2025. This bodes well for both corporate site projects eating up inventory and additional housing demand from inbound job-seekers.

The county also leverages ample solar resources, ranking in the Top 10 nationally for solar installation candidates. This energy infrastructure creates promising land leasing or sale opportunities. Attractive solar incentives here make Pima’s vacant property uniquely positioned to deliver passive revenue.

3. Coconino County

While not as populated as Maricopa or Pima counties, Coconino County makes for an astute land investment location thanks to outdoors appeal and tourism expansion in iconic Flagstaff.

  • Home to Grand Canyon National Park, seeing 6 million+ visitors yearly
  • Surrounded by national forests, peaks and trails attracting outdoor enthusiasts
  • Flagstaff mountain town drawing remote workers and retirees
  • Saw over $1 billion in recent resort and attractions investment
  • Major rail line carries lumber and materials to feed construction

Coconino also gained over 12,000 new residents since 2010 - the largest influx along I-40 outside Maricopa and Pima. Look for Flagstaff's trajectory to mirror boomtowns like Boise and Bend, fueled by the area's unmatched four-season outdoor recreation options.

This natural appeal should sustain development demand for retail, hospitality and residential projects that utilize open land plots - whether around the mountain town of Flagstaff itself or parks/forests delivering superb seasonal tourism traffic.

Navigating Arizona’s Complex Land Regulations

Before buying vacant land in Arizona, buyers need to research zoning constraints, deed contingencies and usage statutes that dictate what can actually be done with a property beyond basic activities like hiking or camping on it.

Permitted land usage spans residential, commercial, agricultural and sometimes industrial activities. The below resources help verify regulations:

  • County Assessor Site - Parcel details like zoning codes and property ID numbers
  • County Recorder Site - Deed records outlining easements or other limiting conditions
  • State Land Department - Statutory frameworks impacting development

Without confirming these specifications in advance, an owner may be blocked from relevant construction plans or land launches. Consulting local real estate professionals also provides key insights on zoning provisions across Arizona's counties.

Final Take - Act Quickly in Arizona's Emerging Land Markets

Fueled by surging migration and expanding business footprints, Arizona's growth trajectory should yield years of ongoing development activity that fuels demand for entitled property in commemorable places like Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. Checking county records to validate usage designations allows buyers to capitalize on prospective zoning districts in these emerging zones ahead of wider attention.

Those able to move quickly stand the best chances of not just capital gains off rising Arizona land valuations, but also tapping into passive leasing income from entities looking to erect solar installations, leverage roadway frontage or meet construction project needs.

While county selection marks an important first step when identifying promising Arizona land deals, the seasoned negotiation experts at Land Boss also suggest pricing as low as 60-70% under market value when buying land. This accounts for the typical 1-2 year timeline required for owners to actively market and sell prime parcels at full market rates. We buy land across Arizona counties and can provide quick cash offers to property owners given our extensive buyer network. Learn more about our ethical and mutually beneficial land sale process here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average cost per acre of land in Arizona?

According to the Arizona State University Real Estate Center, the average cost per acre of land in Arizona as of 2022 is approximately $4,400. However, prices range greatly based on county location and other value impacting factors like zoning allowances.

Which Arizona counties have seen the fastest land value appreciation recently?

Over the past 5 years, the highest county land value increases came in Pinal County (+44%) and Mohave County (+32%) - largely owing to spillover demand from red hot Maricopa County. Flagstaff area Coconino County also saw 19% upticks.

What infrastructure developments could influence Arizona land prospects going forward?

Major transportation projects like Interstate 11 construction to connect Phoenix and Las Vegas alongside ongoing solar build outs around Tucson and across Pinal County will likely lift land valuations in those zones. Chip manufacturing plants just secured via the CHIPS Act should also consume industrial space.

Should I consider buying land in Arizona’s retiree community zones?

For buying land that caters to Arizona’s massive snowbird retiree community, counties like La Paz and Mohave around favorite places like Quartzsite, Yuma and Lake Havasu City offer value. These regions continue seeing homes and services development for seasonal residents.

How soon should I look to sell land after buying in Arizona?

While market conditions vary, the experienced land professionals at Land Boss generally suggest pricing land buys approximately 20% below market rate. This allows for 6-12 months worth of marketing and negotiations required to find buyers willing to pay the true asset valuation. List prices well above market rarely attract qualified buyers even in booming counties.

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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