The Best Counties to Buy Land in Michigan

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The Best Counties to Buy Land in Michigan

Bart Waldon

Spanning over 58 million acres of vibrant farmlands, dense forests, revitalized post-industrial cities and thousands of inland lakes/rivers, Michigan offers seemingly endless landscape diversity making for rewarding land investments. However, certain Great Lake State counties outperform based on development demand drivers, economic outlooks, infrastructure expansion and more.

Whether plots slated for residential communities or commercial developments, understanding key regions poised for near and long-term property appreciation ensures investment decisions proving financially sound for years while aligning ongoing lifestyle priorities.

Top Michigan Counties Currently for Vacant Land Ownership

Leelanau County 

Enviable shoreline parcels plus wine tourism fueling retail/hospitality buildout and small wineries produce consistent 7%+ annual land value gains according to Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and local assessor datasets.

Oakland County 

Considered the Greater Detroit Region’s business center, with corporate R&D and logistics campuses continuing along emerging AV mobility corridors joined by millennial workers seeking affordable homes reflecting city income levels makes Oakland a likely SoCal analog replicating climates enabling future ability increasing technology firm expansions and residential need demands.

Grand Traverse County 

Another iconic wine/tourism destination along scenic Lake Michigan enjoying grape planting and startup growth combined with increasing feed water pipeline investments enabling arid climate produce growth diversifying the agrarian and conventional energy economic base. Farmlands also see gradually increasing corporate consolidations gaining operational scale and crop specialization efficiencies.

Washtenaw County 

With The University of Michigan anchoring Ann Arbor's "Top 10 Most Educated" status nationally, technology spinouts continue commercializing globally-significant mobility research allowing the area to grow independently from Detroit - forcing competing projects bidding privately for land allowing forward-thinking developments. Nearby startups increasingly redevelop post-industrial buildings for mixed residential co-living and entrepreneurial incubator ecosystems attracting talent. The pattern mirrors early-stage Bay Area expansions into former Navy Shipyard offices during the mid 1990s web technologies ascension. Educational feeder and talent pipelines remain strong as investments continue developing high-return technology hubs steadying through economic cycles.

Kent County 

Centered around growing financial hub Grand Rapids where Founders Brewery, Steelcase and Amway reside, the strong manufacturing and healthcare underpinnings here are being supplemented by increasing Early/Growth Stage Venture Capital focusing on consumer products innovating leveraging the region’s craftsmanship skills. Medical device technologies commercializing sensor, imaging and nanotech applications join advanced materials startups focused on autos, aircraft and consumer products.

These momentum counties exhibit economic diversity with tourism, education, agriculture, technology and healthcare growth drivers fueling real estate development and transportation investments maintaining value trajectories despite cyclical manufacturing exposures challenging recovery optimism.

Factors Increasing Land Values in Target Michigan Counties

Beyond historical price performance outperforming state averages recently across targeted Michigan counties, several fundamental advantages enhance additional value runways, including:

Infrastructure Expansion 

Enhanced airport capacities servicing Oakland, Leelanau, Grand Traverse and Kent counties joined by widened interstates improve connectivity importing tourism and exporting goods while retaining accessible in-land qualities attracting permanent relocations as remote work continues increasing from pandemic required experiments succeeding.

Knowledge Worker Magnets 

World-class educational institutions and research hubs fueling innovation ecosystems incubating commercially relevant technologies in Oakland, Washtenaw and Kent counties attract graduates retaining regional ties and stewarded professors spinning out ventures channeling past project successes into launching customers and corporate developers alike - strengthening community economic foundations for sustained investments and growth manifestations.

Business Community Collaboration 

Convention bureaus, universities, incubators, workforce development councils, VC funds and chambers of commerce collectively enabling idea transformations into product enterprises through events, networking introductions, grants and ongoing operational infrastructure required launching then stabilizing companies which contribute catalytic job creations across target county technology sectors.

Legacy Industrial Redevelopments 

Revitalizing manufacturing buildings/districts into mixed residential lofts alongside technology and creative office spaces also encourages locally expanding consumer products firms to locate prototyping and small batch facilities adjoining both innovative worker habitats and inter-generational industrial artisans whose hand-crafting expertise hybrid technology startups creatively leverage building brand reputations for quality.

Collectively across educational, governmental, real estate and investment stakeholders committing coordinated efforts through public-private partnerships, target Michigan county economies exhibit fortified foundations securing differentiated thriving outlooks relative to outmoded manufacturing dependencies awaiting federal stimulations.

Smart Due Diligence Principles for Michigan Land Purchases

While positive demographic and commercial property demand trends make certain Michigan counties appear poised for ongoing land investment growth and agricultural output expansions long-term, conducting smart parcel-specific due diligence remains essential before acquisitions to prevent overpaying or encountering usage barriers diluting ROI potential. Savvy buyers should:

Verify Developmental Uses 

Confirm county zoning classifications permit intended commercial facility constructions for warehouse logistics sites, hospitality resorts or mixed residential builds without special approvals introducing delays or rejection possibilities nixing plans.

Inspect Properties Thoroughly 

Look for flooding risks, invasive species threatening farming utility like poison ivy or erosion limitations shaping safe building envelopes during initial walks rather than later engineering studies uncovering previously hidden expenses hampering projects after purchase contracts close and payment transfers complete absent contingencies.

Secure Access Rights 

Guarantee recorded easements for driveway usages, utility runway access and roadway frontage permits legally conveying ongoing transport pathway allowances benefiting lands which can shift over time against new owners if prior rights get granted informally without updated title reflections.

Price Raw Assets Separately From Improvements 

Carefully divide appraisal values between inherent vacant land itself based on comparables versus estimated costs clearing sites, grading access or adding amenities distinctly requiring capital budgeting.

Conducting tailored due diligence around prospective Michigan land parcels provides the greatest certainty of maximizing usage utility and aligning long-term increasing price trajectories with smart acquisitions at equitable levels. Investigate then invest insightfully.

Takeaways on Michigan's Strongest Land Investment Counties

When prioritizing regions poised for continued land valuation gains based on recent historical trends and forward fundamentals, focus factors include:

  • Technology incubation ecosystems yielding commercialize ventures and local job creation opportunities in diverse sectors stabilizing against singular industry vulnerabilities.
  • Improving infrastructure enhancements increasing investor access and regional interconnectivity both domestically and globally by leveraging the logistical benefits metros provide alongside sustaining aesthetically appealing characteristics distinguishing thriving communities manifesting growth upsides for the foreseeable future.

Sector diversification through innovation cultivations, livability sustaining and tactical mobility infrastructures collectively stack probability factors favoring certain Michigan counties exhibiting resilient economic foundations supporting real estate price stability with growth tailwinds persisting over market cycles - contrasting outmoded manufacturing hub dependencies lacking reinvention.

Final Thoughts

Certain Michigan counties like Oakland, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Washtenaw and Kent currently offer highly appealing environments to invest in vacant plots, farmlands and development sites based on expanding infrastructure, diversified economies, relative affordability and measured leadership. However, conducting rigorous due diligence around legally permitted use, impediments hampering improvements and access pathways remains essential to ensure specific land parcels deliver anticipated usage flexibility and value growth. Local real estate attorneys and investor-focused land specialists provide invaluable guidance matching promising properties with buyer objectives across Michigan's most thriving rural investment markets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which factors have the largest influence impacting vacant land valuations in Michigan?

Zoning codes enabling commercial development, residential community plans or agricultural activities fundamentally expand usage potentials expanding value from base acreage rates. Recent localized land sale comps, district absorption momentum and access improvements also positively shape pricing.

How much lead time should land buyers expect to complete due diligence?

Allocate at least 30 days for lawyers to research title histories, usage codes, ingress access and water rights plus environmental consultants and engineers to assess soils, erosion and infrastructure needs shaping site buildability. Permit processing adds further delays.

What are signs of ambiguous title histories needing attorney clarification before land purchases?

Any past deaths without probate records formally transferring properties, unfamiliar heir names holding fractional interests, and outdated/missing parcel surveys on file with counties warrant attorneys investigating ownership legality establishing chain of custody trails justifying purchase rights from sellers.

Could eminent domain takings ever impact land owners?

Federal agencies exercising eminent domain for park/forest expansions, infrastructure needs or state-level public projects present rare but plausible takings risks lawyers highlight when reviewing title records against jurisdictions having related bonds issued possibly funding future transportation routes crossing sites.

What might invalidate purchase contracts after initial agreements?

Zoning changes altering intended development allowances, title clouds from disputes/liens emerging during escrow, endangered species habitat designations limiting land modifications, and identification of environmental remediation cost requirements give buyers certain outs if discovered before closes.

How can buyers avoid overpaying for vacant Michigan land plots?

Verifying price alignment with both recent comparable acreage sales of similar zoning/land types and estimated costs improving sites for intended buyer usages gives multiple data point perspectives informing fair bid offers factoring true market demand supporting valuation affirmations.

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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