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Land Market Shows Slow But Steady Growth in 2018, According 2018 RLI-NAR Land Survey

With rising interest rates and commodity prices still depressed, land sales and land prices continued to increase, although at a modest pace, during October 2017 – September 2018, according to the 2018 Land Market Survey of the REALTORS® Land Institute and the National Association of REALTORS®, an annual survey of land practitioners.

Land sales in dollar volume rose two percent during the reference period of October 2017 – September 2018 compared to the level of sales during the prior 12 months, a smaller rate of increase compared to the four percent growth during the October 2016 – September 2017.

Among types of land, residential land sales posted the highest increase at 4 percent, followed by commercial and recreational land, each growing at 3 percent.   Residential and commercial land sales rose at a modest pace compared to the pace of growth during October 2016 – September 2017.  The slower growth in residential land transactions reflects the slowdown in home sales since the second quarter of 2018 and the slower pace of price appreciation. During the same period of October 2017- September 2018, existing home sales were down by about 1 percent compared to the level during the prior 12 months, while the median sales price of existing home sales were up at a modest 4.2 percent on a year-over-year basis compared to the 5.5 percent price gain in November 2017.

Commercial land sales also rose at a modest pace, as higher interest rates exerted a downward pressure on commercial land prices to keep returns in line with rising interest rates.

Agricultural land sales rose at a slow pace of one percent, with commodity prices still depressed, with prices of cattle, livestock, and grains still below 2015 levels.

Residential and commercial land also posted the highest price appreciation. On average, residential land rose five percent during the reference period, while commercial land rose four percent, the same pace in the 2017 survey.

In addition to market conditions (rising interest rates, low commodity prices), respondents noted several issues affecting land market transactions such as getting the right appraisal/valuation for land, especially in rural areas, the lack of lender financing, and changes in zoning and local regulations that slow land development.

Among land practitioners who participated in the survey, nearly half of land sales were for recreational land (28 percent of land sales) and residential land (27 percent). Timber, agricultural non-irrigated, and ranch land transactions accounted for 10 to 12 percent each.  Commercial land transactions accounted for four percent.

Regions 7, 8,9, and 10 accounted for 70 percent of land sales among the respondents.

About the 2018 Land Market Survey

The Land Market Survey is a collaboration of the REALTOR® Land Institute (RLI) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) that started in 2016.The objective of this survey is to gather information and insights about land transactions among land real estate professionals that can be used as a resource in conducting land business.

RLI sent out the survey to 1,323 RLI members and approximately 5,000 prospects who are engaged in land transactions, 809 of which responded to the survey.  NAR and RLI conducted the online survey from October 8–November 23, 2018. The 2018 survey gathers information on transactions during the reference period of October 2017–September 2018.

The annual Land Markets Survey is a tool for landowners and land real estate professionals in all sectors of the business to use for bench-marking and as an informational resource when conducting business. This year marks the sixth consecutive year that the survey has been conducted to reveal current trends and the ever-changing state of land markets within the industry; and this year’s survey had the highest participation rate ever. The Realtors® Land Institute has made the full survey results available for free to the public on their website.                                                                         

The Realtors® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land,” continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. The Realtors® Land Institute provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business. For more information, visit rliland.com or call 800.441.5263.

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