The stock market is up and everyone wants to know where the next good investment will be. I may have a vested interest in being bullish on land, but the optimism of an upside on land investment is founded on hard data.
Since the market crash eight years ago, land prices in Columbia County have remained flat, and for the past fifteen years or more land has been loosely valued at $10K per acre. That compares very favorably with land only 30-45 minutes south in Dutchess County, where land trades routinely at $12-20K per acre. Recent land sales in Columbia County have ranged from a low of $3K per acre to a high of $20K+ per acre, with both ends of the spectrum thinly populated. While land is possible to obtain at the low end, it is typically wooded or wet, not easily developed, and has other location deficiencies either from road noise, less valuable neighboring properties, or ease of access. Also the further north you go in the county, the lower the price point tends to be, with an extreme drop off in value north of I-90. On the other end of the price range, spectacular privacy and view of the Catskills, particularly on smaller (under 50 acre) parcels, has driven sale prices into the $20K range.
How long can such pricing last? History tells us that flat line raw land prices typically lead to rapid appreciation, as was seen in Dutchess County in the decade from 1996-2006. An under appreciated asset is suddenly identified by buyers as being such and then the run is on. I believe that period is here in Columbia County.
An added component to this valuation is that urban populations are increasingly aware of the value of fresh produce and organically raised meats close to home, and the resulting parallel growth of the farm-to-table restaurant movement. Everything from beef to mushrooms is being raised in the Hudson Valley, and Columbia County has more open land and better soils than any other county in the valley. Where else can you find several hundred contiguous acres with the ability to plant an orchard, raise bees for honey, tap your maples to produce syrup, raise grass feed beef and pork, free range chickens for organic eggs, and still retain the best twenty acres for vegetables?
The added values in this investment metric are the long term tax advantages of farm land ownership. Tax deductions and reductions abound, from putting land in conservancy, agricultural assessments for land in production which provide annual tax reductions, to the long term benefits of the NYS Forestry program 480A , which gives exemptions for forested land more than 50 acres.
Of course, the final benefit to adding land to your investment portfolio is in the day to day enjoyment. No one ever rolled down a hill with their children on their Alphabet stock, or watched new life emerge with a Fed bond. Enjoy your portfolio while you can, and know that this is one investment that truly lasts beyond a lifetime.
If you have questions about land acquisitions in the Hudson Valley, please call or email at 914-391-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Licensed Associate Broker