It was a good time to be in the real estate business in Florida in 2021. That was a common theme coming out of the annual Lay of the Land Conference held in Lakeland, Florida, in April. The conference is hosted by SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate.
Some real estate sectors have moved through the COVID-19 pandemic better than others. One in particular has been recreational land sales. After the pandemic lockdown, there was an increase in 100- to 500-acre sales because they were affordable for the average buyer looking to get out of the city and enjoy the outdoors. It also reflected people’s desire to own something tangible amid the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.
For agricultural landowners, this trend reflects a seller’s market and could be an opportunity to sell smaller tracts to raise capital while staying in farming. Looking at the data, the trend is clear. In 2020, there we 50 sales that qualified as ranch and recreational. In 2021, that number rose sharply to 170 sales. The average price for land in these transactions was just over $7,459 per acre compared to $5,991 per acre in 2020. That is a 240% increase in sales volume and a 20% increase in price.
According to Dean Saunders, founder and managing director of SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler, who discussed the recreational land market and other sectors during the conference, the trend continues in 2022.
Larger transactions also occurred in 2021. There were 41 sales of 500+ acres in the state with an average price of $4,951. That reflected a 19% increase in price per acre over 2020. Saunders noted 2021 was the first time in over a decade that both 100- to 500-acre sales and sales above 500 acres grew at roughly the same rate.
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