“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore” – Mark Twain

By Annette Velarde

The value of land sustains every form of real estate investment. Weathering all economic storms, this limited resource has retained its value through the test of time. The U.S. Census Bureau figures demonstrate that between 1992 and 2012 the financial return on raw land is nearly three times that of a single-family home. With little or no effort for maintenance, land can bring profits that are many times the original investment cost. More attractive than potential financial profit is the nature-connected lifestyle acreage can offer the fortunate family who lives on it. Even the most high-powered executive can find solace and relaxation at home when it is surrounded by Utah’s magnificent landscapes and vistas.

Just outside Park City, tracts of land fill the countryside. Large swaths ranging from five to over a thousand acres come on the market from time to time and are always a real estate gem. Undertaken judiciously, investment in land can offer tangible tax advantages and estate planning options that other forms of real estate cannot. Betty Brown, broker-owner of Brown & Company of Park City, Inc., who specializes in large acreages, points out that, “The buyer of land purchases something unique that is filled with possibility. Even a ski-slope home, a treasure to love and use, will always be a house. Land usage can change dramatically. A 524-acre ranch I recently sold has just received approval to be developed into a luxury heli-skiing retreat with six homes on it. Another 660 acre land sale will probably become the second 18 holes of a private golf course.” These examples demonstrate the potential land purchases hold.

page167There is something inherently satisfying about owning acreage. The American sense of adventure and hunger for a rural way of life seems deeply embedded in our spirits. The ranch lifestyle taps into our desire for space, self-determination, and a connection with nature. Patrick Bates, President of Bates Land Consortium, said, “In 43 years of handling large ranch, farm and open land holdings in Utah and five other states, I have learned that larger holdings satisfy four basic needs and desires: agricultural production; personal happiness from owning a large, beautiful ‘original’; investment safety and appreciation; and the satisfaction of conserving ever-diminishing natural panoramas from the pressure of development. Many of the significant properties we have handled possess several, if not all, of these elements. It is particularly gratifying to facilitate ownership changes from one fine set of good hands to another deserving set of good hands.”
Investment in land can bring greater peace of mind than many other forms of investing. We have all experienced that the stock market or economy can be volatile and concern any sense of security we may have. The owner of land can find consolation in knowing that when everything else in the economy seems to be loosing its footing, land cannot be created or destroyed. Unlike stocks, its inherent value cannot be lost forever.

Will Lange, owner of The Lange Group, brought to market in the late 1990s a 14,000-acre ranch that was then subdivided into eighty 160-acre parcels. All eighty parcels have sold and approximately 15 have resold— some for triple their original price. “While living on a large parcel of land is not for everyone, there are those who love the privacy and lifestyle that living within a ranch setting provides,” said Lange.

Betty Brown makes the point that land can also be used to establish a legacy for a family name. “By placing part of a large parcel in a Nature Conservancy, an owner can benefit from the considerable tax break, use the remaining acreage as a family estate, and become a local legend for giving back to their community.”

Whether it is the investment value, agricultural business potential, personal or commercial sporting pursuits, or a family’s community legacy, buying land is a smart move. The incredible potential large acreage real estate represents makes owning it an exciting adventure. If you are a nature lover, a rancher, or just look good in boots, land may be one of the most rewarding purchases you ever make.

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