With today’s focus on investing in and flipping homes, there is an investment that has become lost in the glamour of high profile home flipping. The purchase of land has always been one of the more secure forms of real estate investment, and if you are looking for a long-term asset land is perfect. There are numerous ways you can go about making a profit off your purchase of land, but most involve proper zoning and selling to the right person or company.

Be Sure To Do Your Research

Before you purchase any parcel of land, do some research into the zoning of the area. Find out if it is zoned for residential, commercial or both. Finding something that is zoned for both is a great find because it gives you the widest array of options when selling.

Also try to find out if there are any liens or easements on the property, this information will be critical when selling. Now consider the area that the land is in, is it an area that is likely to be developed? How does it match up in terms of location and proximity to amenities existing or proposed? 

Look At Other Properties Performance From The Past

Also try to find out how the surrounding land has appreciated in the past years. If the area you are looking at has seen a push on development there is a good chance that land will be selling for a premium price as the development continues. To make your land more attractive to buyers, try clearing it yourself (if possible). Having all scrub and stumps removed is an attractive aspect to developers as it will save them time and money in the long run. Prospecting on the value of land can really pay off in the end if done correctly. development companies will pay top dollar for land in the right place so do your homework and good luck!

Land is speculative


Here is the issue with land: It’s a 100 percent speculative investment. You are 100 percent hoping that the value will go up to provide you a fair rate of return. And it might. But will it go up enough to provide you a fair rate of return for the extreme risk that you are taking holding that land?

Here’s the risk


Let’s say you buy $100,000 worth of land, and you pay cash. It’s still going to cost you money each month to cover property taxes and insurance. And, here’s the kicker: It’s also costing you the opportunity cost of capital.

You probably took $100,000 out of your mutual fund account, or other financial asset, to buy the land. And when that money was in the financial account, it was probably earning interest — let’s say 5 percent — but now it’s not earning anything because you took it out of your account to buy some dirt. So you’re really effectively losing 5 percent in wealth each year because you’re not earning that return. Unless, of course, the land goes up that much in value plus compensating for property taxes, insurance and other annual costs.

As an example, if you have $100,000 and put it into a mutual fund, you’d earn 5 percent, or $5,000, per year. That’s cash in the bank that you can reinvest to earn even more money. After 10 years you’d have your original $100,000, plus $50,000 to $70,000 additional cash/financial asset earnings.

On the other hand, if you bought land, you’d earn no interest or dividends, and after 10 years you’d have a piece of dirt that you’ve been paying taxes on. Will your land have gone up enough in value to match the returns you would have earned on a financial asset?

In addition to those significant financial issues, land also can be contaminated, undevelopable or have significant development restrictions, among other issues.

Who might consider land?


Land may be a good investment for home building companies and long-term corporate land investors with extensive development and entitlement skills and experience, and significantly diversified portfolios of land to reduce their overall risk. But for small investors, it’s a high-risk gamble with little chance of earning a fair rate of return. There are much better investment opportunities, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, rental properties or, quite frankly, heading to Las Vegas for the weekend (where, by the way, many an investor has learned some tough land investment lessons in the past decade!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *