Buying Land

More Land is Made Every Day, But Where Will the Buyers Come From?

More land is made every day; but where will the buyers come from?

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Invest in land, they’re not making any more of it.” Dave Milton, founder of AlaLandCo, once had a conversation with an older man who was knowledgeable about the land industry and this expression came up. The man said, “Sure it is, look right here.”, as he pointed to the obituaries in the daily paper.

I think we understand the concept of a fixed-amount of land, but in the past twenty-four months we are seeing an increasing supply of tracts of land that are being made available for the first time, or at least the first time in generations. I just closed on a property in Perry County, Alabama that had never even filed paperwork for the land patent from the state.

I am not naturally a person who is given to lots of speculation about the future, and I have been known to have the opposite of the “Midas touch” when it comes to new business start-ups. But as I was driving home from the Alabama Realtors’ Land Institute meeting today I was pondering the question, “Where is the next group of land buyers going to come from?”

With tough times still hanging around, many landowners are currently looking to turn rural tracts into stacks of cash. The recreational property buyer boom of the early part of the decade is over, and land prices are coming back down to more reasonable levels. Currently there is a glut of rural properties on the market, and if Congress does not act quickly to change the tax code, then I suspect there will be an even greater number of properties available in the next two or three years due to the estate tax being astronomical.

So who is going to buy all of this available land? Some of the analysts I read and listen to say that personal incomes have been relatively flat for the past five to seven years and that Americans are returning to a more austere mindset and becoming savers again. (Our grandparents would be proud.) So in the short run, I think it is possible we will see a continued slow-down in the number of rural land purchases due to all of the afore-mentioned factors plus high unemployment rates.

However, if Americans really do become savers again, then it seems very probable that eventually people will have more capital to invest in rural land. Many buyers I meet with now are people who have saved cash, and are looking to put that into a piece of land. It would be a very encouraging prospect for me to think about a nationwide reversal of habits and people becoming savers versus spenders. That reversal would make a more stable and sustainable land market because purchases would be made with cash and not credit.

I am not an economist, a forecaster, or even a decent prognosticator, but I am encouraged about the future of the land market. Most wise people see things from a long-view and do not concentrate on the quick fixes or patches that smooth things over. I would say the land market may be a little bumpy in the immediate future, but it could lead to a long and stable market in the future.

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About the author

Jonathan Goode

Jonathan is passionate about helping people buy and sell land. He is an associate broker with Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. Jonathan is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC), working with Southeastern Land Group (AlaLandCo) since 2008, serving Alabama and Mississippi. He is a member of the Alabama and Mississippi chapters of the Realtor’s Land Institute (RLI), and is currently serving as Vice President of the Alabama Chapter. Jonathan specializes in marketing rural properties online, and is a contributor for, writing articles focused on helping people buying and selling rural land.


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  • Hmmmm, seems that in my state (New Hampshire), more and more people are moving to an off-grid situation, which may bolster the sale of rural land going forward, especially as the associated costs reduce, as technology improves affordability. Kind of neat that certain hedge funds are offering a return on land to investors via timber management and conservation easement sales, which will keep land rural and give people the opportunity to fairly safely earn upwards of 10% on their capital.

    They ain’t makin’ any more of it, but we can make more of it through creative investment! 🙂

  • Please believe me when I say they are actually making more of it every day. You can make more if you have that much money.

  • Happy ThanksGiving…

    I heard from several people that you had a great meeting. Curtis Seltzer tells it like it is and I do too.

    Until the word “Land” is seen and discussed in the national and local media…it will be business as usual.

    It is up to us and other Land professionals and vendors to “Keep promoting Land”.

    I have encouraged all our RLI Land 101 students and others to write and speak about Land all the time, everyday and to everyone…

    Now that “Land” is listed as a “Specialty” in our Realtors(R) Code of Ethics, Article 11, we need to promote our credentials as “Land Professionals”. Get involved with the Realtors Land Institute
    Encourage Broker/Owners to evolve their agents that broker Land to get formal education. I am sure that the E&O Insurance providers would appreciate it.

    Encourage your state to adopt a “Land Disclosure” form. This opens the world up to over 93+ potential Land issues and Observations and shows the complexity of Land Brokerage and educates both buyers and sellers.

    Submit Land article in your local press. You are always welcome to copy mine and use your name…

    Attend civic club meetings and talk about Land.

    Advertise yourself and a “Land Specialists”.

    Write Blogs, Tweets, Squeaks and any and all forms to communicate about Land.

    That will create “Buyers”…I promise.

    Lou Jewell ALC

  • Lou, I appreciate your passion for land. You have influenced lots of people in our profession. Your name came up several times by members of the Alabama RLI chapter at the last meeting. Honestly your encouragement to join is a big part of why I am an RLI member.

    Land professionals or specialists need to do more to promote our industry, I agree. I think Landthink serves that end very well.

    Thanks for all you do. Hope you have a good Thanksgiving.

  • Jonathan-
    I think you are right with the new spin to the old saying. We will see recently sold land come back on the market due to speculators overindulging. In addition, the sad truth is that many families that intended to pass their land down to the next generation need the cash for retirement and the heirs don’t have the money to take over the land.

    While there appears to be a lack of buyers there are still many investors and “just plain buyers” looking to start their legacy. What is important to many buyers now is the legacy and safety of land as an investment. I spend a lot of time in the woods with the “new” buyer and its a great time to impart the careful, long-term stewardship goals needed for the land. Whether an investor or a family buyer land remains a great investment.

  • Jonathan, As always you have an insightful perspective. I am finding my deals are coming from new land buyers- among them are women. I have had conversations with these new buyers and they have said that they are less comfortable investing in the stock market and see land as the better option. The tracts tend to be smaller and the buyers have little or no interest in recreational use.
    Most seem to understand the buy and hold mindset and pay with cash. These buyers seem to have little real knowledge of land and are generally surprised when they find out that not all land is created equal.

  • We hear each week from buyers in city markets who are scared. One fellow in Cape May Courthouse NJ says he just bought an AR 15 rifle. Lots of his friends have. What’s up with that I asked. Not feeling safe, not thinking money will last forever to run the city with escalating cost. So grow you own food, hobby farmers, not all off grid and granola serious about farming. But supplying themselves and knowing what they are eating, where it comes from is critical now. Without food, the rest does not matter. Don’t talk about farmers in a negative way with your mouth full is my advice. Land is way under valued in Maine. $1000 for prime high production farm ground. Across border in New Brunswick Canada it is $5,000 for same type of acre.

Pulse Question

If you were buying land, how likely would you be to choose owner financing if it was offered?


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