The Best Counties to Buy Land in Delaware

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The Best Counties to Buy Land in Delaware

Bart Waldon

When purchasing raw, undeveloped land in Delaware, prospective buyers weigh options spanning the state's three counties – each with unique geographic and demographic traits influencing property values. As per the USDA's most recent Census of Agriculture data, roughly 600,000 total acres of farmland, forest and vacant space sit available across Delaware. Based on factors like development pressure, tax rates, zoning codes, land prices range widely from south to north. Sussex County contains 39 percent of Delaware farms yet boasts the highest acreage costs due to coastal resort demand. New Castle County posts similar pricier averages but offers proximity perks near Philadelphia. 

In terms of overall affordability, available inventory and future upside, Kent County ranks as the optimal locale for securing Delaware land. With median vacant acreage pricing around $4,500 per acre according to University of Delaware research, plus lower tax burdens, knowledgeable buyers obtain superior ROI buying land strategically in Kent County – if willing to bypass beaches and amenities further south. This analysis compares merits of buying land across all three Delaware counties using the latest market insights.

New Castle County

Situated in the northern part of the state, New Castle County is Delaware’s most populous county. It contains the state’s largest city, Wilmington. Other popular destinations include Newark, Middletown, and historic New Castle.

For land buyers interested in property near metropolitan conveniences, New Castle County provides attractive options while avoiding the extreme congestion of larger cities. Areas in proximity to Wilmington offer access and exposure that more remote locations cannot match. With nearly 60% of Delaware’s population, dynamic job markets and continuous development also make New Castle County a safer long-term real estate bet compared to more rural counties.

While not the most budget-friendly option, New Castle County development hotspots like Wilmington’s Riverfront showcase the area’s potential. Vacant land parcels here can appreciate exponentially in value over shorter time horizons than remote farmland or hunting acreages. For investors able to afford New Castle County’s real estate premiums, the county provides a blend of current livability perks and future financial upside that outmatches most other areas of Delaware.

Sussex County

As Delaware’s southernmost county, Sussex County has emerged as a popular retreat destination thanks to its abundance of parks, wildlife refuges, and stunning Atlantic coast beaches. Quaint shoreline towns like Rehoboth Beach and Lewes attract visitors while larger inland communities like Georgetown and Seaford offer more affordable living options. The county’s eastern half contains the majority of Delaware’s beach resort towns which see peak tourism in summer months.

For land buyers focused on leisure property or second homes, Sussex County provides prime options especially near coastal areas. Inland regions of the county also present opportunities but land here will likely take longer to appreciate without proximity to shoreline amenities. Hunters and outdoors enthusiasts can find great acreage value among the county’s central farmland and wooded tracts.

Investment potential varies greatly across Sussex County based on specific location. Coastal plots already come at a premium while inland areas have room for value increases over time. Ultimately Sussex County gives land buyers a breadth of options whether looking to build a beach getaway, establish a hobby farm, or simply hold raw land for long-term appreciation. The county’s recent growth trajectory confirms its popularity among residents and visitors alike.

Kent County

Situated between New Castle and Sussex Counties, Kent County occupies Delaware’s middle ground in more ways than one. Its central location and infrastructure make Kent County easily accessible from either of its neighboring counties via State Routes 1, 13 or 113. The county seat of Dover serves as Delaware’s state capital and second largest city. Other Kent County towns like Smyrna and Milford present affordable living paired with the area’s characteristic small town charm.

For land buyers, Kent County strikes an appealing balance of development potential and room for growth. While not quite as built-up as New Castle County, Kent County has seen steady new construction and housing demand that outpaces much of rural Delaware. At the same time, attractive land can still be purchased here for a fraction of the price commanded in northern areas.

State government, legal and healthcare hubs found in Dover help stabilize Kent County’s economy compared to tourism-driven Sussex County. Major roadways plus proximity to urban employment centers also give Kent County an edge for future development. Investors planning to buy and hold vacant acreage can find appealing deals here. With infrastructure superior to most rural locales yet room for plenty of expansion, Kent County offers savvy land buyers the chance to capitalize on inevitable future growth.

Key Buying Considerations

We’ve covered Delaware’s most promising counties for land buyers, but several factors should be weighed when searching for an ideal investment property. Consider the following criteria to select land parcels with the best return potential:

Accessibility – Look for properties near existing infrastructure or development. Land deep within wooded areas or wetlands will be costly to utilize.

Utilities – Does the property have water, electric and sewer access? If not, factor in substantial costs to establish these.

Surrounding Growth – Emerging neighborhoods nearby raise a property’s future value. Isolated parcels see slower appreciation without supporting development.

Improvements – Cleared land with grading and drainage control attributes demand higher selling prices. Most buyers prefer turnkey-ready sites.

Zoning Restrictions – Verify what structures or uses are permitted for the property before purchasing. Non-conforming parcels limit options.

Road Frontage – Parcels accessed via easements are less desirable than those directly fronting county or state roads.

Purchase Discounts – Companies like Land Boss purchase land at below retail prices using cash offers. This stretches investor buying power.

By targeting counties like New Castle, Kent and Sussex that present solid development opportunities, investors can realize strong appreciation on vacant land purchases with appropriate holding periods. Partnering with specialized land buying companies also helps individuals acquire more promising parcels at discounted rates. The counties and buying strategy used make all the difference in securing vacant land able to deliver attractive returns.

Final Thoughts

Deciding which Delaware county offers the premier land investment opportunities involves weighing several variables from pricing and amenities to accessibility and growth. While consensus clearly positions New Castle, Kent, and Sussex Counties as top prospects, the ideal site selection within these counties depends on an investor’s unique objectives, budget and timeline. Coastal Sussex and northern New Castle properties deliver unmatched lifestyle appeal but lag other areas for affordability. Meanwhile, central Kent County presents a middle-ground featuring infrastructure superior to most rural regions yet with ample room left to boom. Regardless of preferred county or property specifics, teaming up with specialized land buying companies creates possibilities for individuals to purchase promising parcels at favorable rates. With sound due diligence and partnerships, ripe investment potential abounds for land buyers across Delaware’s best counties.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main factors to consider when buying land in Delaware?

Some key factors to evaluate are accessibility and transportation infrastructure around the property, availability of utilities like water, sewer and electric service, zoning restrictions and permitted uses for the parcel, road frontage and easements, surrounding population growth and development potential, any improvements already completed on the land such as clearing or grading, and your intended future use like building a home or holding for investment appreciation. Considering all these elements helps determine an optimal property suited for your needs and budget.

Which Delaware county is the most expensive for real estate?

New Castle County in northern Delaware has the most elevated real estate values across the state. With the largest city Wilmington located here, accelerated development and higher incomes lead to substantial demand and elevated pricing for homes, commercial property and vacant land parcels compared to Delaware’s southern and central counties. Luxury homes along the Atlantic coastline and larger investment properties in and around Wilmington come at a premium cost versus other regions.

How can I buy land below market value in Delaware?

Specialized land buying companies like Land Boss purchase property directly from motivated sellers in Delaware and resell inventory at discounts compared to full retail pricing. By dealing in volume across wide geographic areas, these companies create extensive networks and have systems in place to buy land efficiently at below-market costs. Working with such an established organization levels the playing field for individual investors to acquire high quality parcels at reasonable prices.

Is Sussex or Kent County a better option for buying affordable land?

This depends somewhat on the type of property and intended use. In popular eastern beach communities, Sussex County coastal land already demands resort area pricing. However, inland regions of Sussex have more availability at smaller price points for investors planning to hold long term or utilize acreage for a future primary residence or hobby farm. While less scenic than Sussex, Kent County offers superior infrastructure at competitive rates before swelling northern county pricing takes effect. Kent’s central location also provides convenient access points to services, amenities and employment centers.

How much land appreciation have Delaware’s top counties seen in recent years?

Driven by broader development expanding from urban zones to outlying suburban areas, prime Delaware counties have charted meaningful vacant land appreciation in recent years. For example, average land values in the strongest growth corridors of central New Castle County have climbed around 7 to 8 percent annually. Southern Sussex County has also posted consistent value increases especially in eastern resort areas. And central Kent County represents an emerging opportunity for land buyers aiming to capitalize on an area positioned for future population expansion based on affordability and key transportation infrastructure.

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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