Why We Love Buying Utah Land in Cash

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Why We Love Buying Utah Land in Cash

Bart Waldon

Utah is one awe-inspiring state. It packs so much diversity into its 84,000 miles - you've got iconic red rock formations down south and the rugged Wasatch peaks spanning across the north. Though most of its land is publicly owned, you better believe opportunities still abound for savvy land buyers looking to stake their claim here. Vacant plots, ranches, hunting grounds - you name it.

What makes Utah such a popular destination? For starters, people flock here to soak up the state's one-of-a-kind landscape and enjoy its five incredible national parks. Its prosperous economy fueled by booming tech and tourism doesn't hurt either. Newcomers also crave Utah's business-friendly tax structure. And as Salt Lake City emerges as a premier tech hub, its job market just keeps on growing. In fact, ever since 2010, Utah's population has ballooned over 18% - practically double the national rate.

The Allure of Buying Land with Cash

In Utah’s vibrant seller’s market, buying land with all-cash offers provides advantages whether you’re an individual homebuyer or investor.

Speed and Certainty

Cash transactions accelerate Utah’s historically lengthy land buying process. The average home sale in the state takes over 50 days to close. Meanwhile, undeveloped land sales often drag out even longer pending title searches, boundary surveys, and attorney involvement. Sellers favor the uncomplicated nature of cash purchases, which bypass financing contingencies, appraisals, and other red tape.

For buyers, this means closing deals faster with less risk of the deal falling through. Cash buyers can capitalize on targeted parcels that become available only briefly before vanishing once again. As any Utah land investor knows, when a desirable property hits the market, it goes under contract almost immediately in competitive metro areas.

Immediate Equity and Usage

Since cash buyers own property free and clear with no mortgage, they unlock instant equity and full usage without monthly payments. Investors can swiftly develop vacant plots or rent out existing properties without waiting years to slowly build equity through mortgage payments. Having no debt payments also provides financial flexibility to immediately construct capital improvements rather than waiting to borrow against equity accrued over time.

Negotiating Power

Cash conveys credibility and speaking volumes in negotiations. Sellers often agree to lower prices, knowing transactions close faster with fewer barriers when bank financing isn’t involved. Without appraisals and lending red tape holding up deals, cash buyers demonstrate their ability to close smoothly and quickly.

Buyers willing to pay asking price or above in cash tend to have bargaining power over those requiring traditional financing. Sellers may also offer price reductions to avoid paying hefty realtor commissions if buyers found the listing themselves online.

Cash buyers ultimately have more leverage negotiating favorable terms and closing dates that accommodate their needs rather than adhering to the 30-45 day closing expectations of the real estate industry.

Winning Deals in Competitive Markets

Utah’s population boom places immense pressure on available land, putting buyers in frenzied bidding wars. This remains especially true near growing tech centers like Salt Lake City - named a top emerging tech hub to watch nationwide.

All-cash bids edge out buyers saddled with contingencies and uncertain financing timelines common with mortgages. When vying for a coveted land plot among 10+ offers, cash buyers demonstrate financial credibility and closing certainty that makes their bid stand out. Sellers feel secure knowing the buyer has funds ready and waiting without financing hurdles to clear.

Tap Growing Equity

Certain Utah metro areas lead the nation in home price growth. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the St. George metro area witnessed property value appreciation of 33% from 2020-2021 - ranking second highest in the country.

Other regions like Provo-Orem and Salt Lake City also made the top 25 list for growth. When buyers purchase land for cash, they can leverage Utah’s rising property values. Equity can be borrowed against in the future via home equity loans/lines of credit if owners decide to hold land long term. Or they may cash out by selling the appreciated asset.

Utah holds distinction for having one of the top projected rates of property value growth over the next five years according to finance analytics firm Moody’s. Their data indicates Utah as a whole will see almost 18% home price appreciation through 2026. Buying land now allows owners to ride this mounting growth.

The People Who Love Buying Utah Land with Cash

From farmers securing additional acreage to developers seeking new projects, diverse buyers leverage the advantages of acquiring Utah land with cash. Here are some of the most common cash-land buyers found in the state:

Individual Home Buyers and Home Builders

Paying cash allows individual homebuyers and contractors building custom homes unique advantages. They avoid the complexities of acquiring financing twice - once for the vacant lot and again for constructing a house. Cash buyers unlock maximum flexibility to choose floor plans and building materials without lender approval. They also save significantly on interest costs by dodging construction loans.

Home builders may purchase multiple lots at once with cash rather than securing a construction loan for each new build. This allows them efficiency to build when their schedule permits rather than adhering to loan draw timelines. Contractors able to pay cash for entitled land hold “golden” land as demand for new homes reaches historic highs.

Out-of-State Investors

Investors not requiring bank financing can act nimbly to purchase discounted land for a variety of investment strategies - from short-term flips to long-term holds. They capitalize on increasing property values over time.

Utah draws heavy interest from out-of-state investors because its business-friendly, low-tax environment offers appealing efficiencies. Many west coast investors view Utah as the next up-and-coming state to invest in before land prices inflate closer to their hyper-expensive home states. Investors sense opportunity scooping up land while Utah values remain relatively affordable compared historically high prices found in California, Washington, and Oregon.

Local Real Estate Investors and Developers

Experienced Utah property investors often create holding companies or form partnerships that allow them to purchase land en masse with speed and negotiating power. They buy large land parcels for a discounted rate in cash. Then investors develop or subdivide the land into smaller lots for resale as high-demand building sites.

Savvy investors may also negotiate favorable terms with tentative sales contracts allowing them to resell portions of the land before having to officially close on the entire purchase. This frees up capital to swiftly buy more land holdings.

There’s urgent demand for contractors buying entitled properties to develop much-needed new housing inventory and subdivisions. Utah currently faces a housing shortage of over 43,000 homes. Developers able to pay cash to amass land now will capitalize on this prolonged shortage in coming years as demand continues climbing.

Ranchers and Farmers

Ranching forms an integral component of rural Utah’s culture and economy. Spanning almost 23 million acres, 35% of Utah’s total land area consists of grazing lands according to USDA data. For cattle ranchers and farmers priced out of other states, Utah fortunately offers affordable grazing land and farms with access to valuable water rights enabling irrigation.

Ranchers and farmers buying additional acreage with cash may be able to secure adjacent properties to geographically expand their operations before competitors can make rival offers. Agricultural operations need to expand to achieve profitability necessary to survive fluctuations in commodity prices. Buying more land when finances allow enables lasting viability and getting ahead of encroaching development.

Hunting Enthusiasts

While abundant elk hunting options exist on public lands, dwindling private land inventory also makes Utah hunting parcels highly desirable. Sports enthusiasts with cash to deploy quickly snap up any isolated hunting acreage bordering public recreation land before it disappears from market for years at a time.

Buying allows enthusiasts to strictly manage wildlife and vegetation through improvement programs that increase game availability. Groups invest substantial money into habitat enrichments like water access, food plots to attract game, tree clearing to improve mobility, and hunting blinds/stands that make hunting possible year after year on private lands.

Off-Grid Living Groups

In recent years, Utah witnessed growing clusters of off-grid, sustainable living communities banding together to buy rural land tracts. Groups seeking independence from public utilities are drawn to Utah for its abundance of solar and geothermal resources supporting renewable, fully off-grid lifestyles.

These intentional communities thrive in Utah’s remote wilderness areas rich in vital water access. Groups crowdfund cash to buy land where they establish alternative eco-villages or developments serving as vibrant social hubs. Interest accelerated during the pandemic among families desiring remote survivalist compounds or recreational properties supporting self-sustaining lifestyles.

Tips for Evaluating Land for Cash Purchase

Utah offers diverse land investment opportunities, but the hyper-competitive market moves swiftly. Follow these tips when assessing prospective land parcels to purchase with cash:

Verify Legal Access

Research whether the property has legal access through deeded easements, roads, or existing frontage through title work and county records. Otherwise, the property risks becoming landlocked with no route for legal ingress/egress.

Check Development Parameters

Evaluate zoning, lot sizes, setbacks, and allowable land uses specified by the county to gauge what can be built. Confirm no open code violations exist on the land. Seek out contractor cost opinions if significant grading/fill work might be required to develop.

Assess Water Rights

In Utah’s arid climate, property value hinges greatly on included water rights. Determine if the land has existing rights through the state’s complex appropriation system. Look into feasibility and associated costs of drilling a well if no rights available.

Review Surrounding Uses

Drive by the land and surrounding neighborhood if possible. Look into recent and upcoming developments nearby that signal future local growth or other uses that could impact land value - like recent commercial permits issued adjacent to a vacant residential lot.

By following these best practices and acting quickly when attractive land parcels become available, Utah land buyers can maximize the advantages of purchasing property with cash.

Final Thoughts

Utah's one-of-a-kind landscape and thriving economic opportunities beckon outsiders to put down roots. Yet limited private land coupled with extreme demand makes buying property an urgent and highly competitive pursuit. Paying with cash distinguishes serious buyers with the means to purchase land swiftly and strategically. When attractive parcels become available, cash buyers act rapidly to secure ideal acreage before the rare opportunity disappears without hesitation. They negotiate optimal terms to access Utah's wealth of outdoor recreation, investment potential, and enduring natural grandeur. For the prepared investor, developer, or individual landowner ready to stake their claim, paying cash unlocks the door to Utah's bountiful land ownership benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What percentage of land in Utah is privately owned? 

Approximately 35% of Utah’s land area falls under private ownership. The majority of remaining lands are public.

What types of land tend to sell fastest in Utah? 

Residential lots and entitled properties in developing areas sell fastest, facing bidding wars with multiple offers. Out-of-state investors also quickly buy up remote hunting acreage and rural off-grid parcels.

How can buying land with cash prevent buyers from overpaying? 

Cash buyers have more negotiating leverage compared to financed offers, allowing them to walk away freely from overpriced properties without losing contingencies. All cash offers also incentivize sellers to reduce prices to expedite closing.

Can foreign investors purchase Utah land? 

Yes, foreign buyers may legally purchase Utah land as long as they submit proper forms declaring U.S. residences and obtain taxpayer IDs to handle closing paperwork. Purchasing through US LLCs also works.

How much under list price should my initial offer be? 

Due to extreme competition, most Utah lands sell for over asking price when priced correctly relative to market value. In hot areas, offering 101-105% of list price in cash often becomes necessary to win bids.

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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