LAKELAND, FL March 21, 2017 – Attendees of the ninth annual Lay of the Land Florida Land Conference, hosted by Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate (CBCSRE), received the CBCSRE Lay of the Land Market Report. The Lay of the Land Market Report contains 2016 verified Florida land sales and other key facts important to buyers, sellers and developers. “We target 10 different property types in our report, and work diligently to capture all land sales for each category,” Saunders states in the report’s introduction. “We partner with a network of appraisers and land professionals to vet the data and bring you accurate information. The result is the most comprehensive view of Florida land values in the industry today.” Saunders said no buyers or sellers of the Florida land are listed to protect the privacy and anonymity of individual landowners.
The following is a summary of the voluminous material contained in the written report including 2016 sales and trends by land category.
Ranch and Recreational Land
Interest in ranchland tapered off slightly in 2016 after three straight years of annualized growth in land values of just over 10 percent. There is increased interest in recreational land as the overall economy has improved. Interest from overseas buyers and celebrities remains strong; several ranches were purchased by professional athletes in 2016.
Fifteen ranch/recreational sales of more than 500 acres were reported in 2016. Those sales totaled 29,533 acres, which is less than half the acres sold in 2015. The average value in 2016 was $3,287 per acre, a 3 percent reduction from 2015.
There will likely continue to be interest in ranches from wealthy international investors who are looking for a safe place to put money. More interest in small recreational tracts (100- to 500-acre) is expected as people are feeling more confident in the U.S. economy.
Six timberland sales were verified in 2016. They totaled more than 44,000 acres with gross sales prices ranging from $1,465 to $2,448 per acre, with an average sales price of $1,950 per acre. That average sales price is significantly higher than the 2015 average of $1,464 per acre, probably because of the limited number of sales, unique property characteristics and other factors. The
87,000-acre Claw Forestry sale in Florida and Georgia, with a gross sale price of $1,465 per acre, was deemed to be most indicative of current values in timberland.
Timberland values are expected to remain strong into 2017.
Citrus – Central Ridge, South Central and Southwest – (Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Sarasota and Seminole counties)
Fifty-five sales of groves ranged in size from 10 to 1,026 net tree acres, for a total of approximately 7,023 net citrus tree acres and 8,342 gross acres. The sale prices ranged from $3,909 to $13,500 per net tree acre, and from $2,815 to $13,500 per gross acre. (Gross acres include all non-citrus acres.) The average for all sales was $7,811 per net tree acre and $6,576 per gross acre, up from $5,832 and $5,488, respectively, the previous year.
Pricing increased slightly in 2016 for both productive and non-productive properties. Citrus greening disease continues to reduce production and debilitate trees.
East Coast Citrus – (Brevard, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and Saint Lucie counties)
Due to relatively low demand for citrus groves, groves are selling primarily in the $5,000 to $8,000 per acre range. These prices are close to raw land values, providing buyers with fairly little downside should the groves ultimately fail and substantial upside if there is significant improvement.
The citrus industry is experiencing “a glimmer of optimism” due to improved production techniques and antimicrobial products available to combat citrus greening in the past year. But young tree planting rates are low relative to rates of tree losses, so the likelihood of continued declines in production in the coming years remains fairly strong.
Treasure Coast Update – (Brevard, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and Saint Lucie counties)
There were increased transactions of unimproved but entitled residential lands with purchases in the $7,000 to $10,000 per unit range. Improved lots in manageable quantities are selling in the $40,000 to $50,000 per unit range, with values typically determined as a percentage of home values.
Former citrus groves that are pure agricultural plays for conversion to farmland are typically selling in the $4,000 to $5,500 per acre range.
Improved farmlands with permits, good drainage and irrigation are selling in the $6,000 to $8,000 per acre range.
Transitional lands have recovered nicely from a bottom in the $5,000 per acre range to more recent pricing in the $10,000 to $20,000 per acre range. Transitional lands are those in the path of development but with timing that might be five to 10 years out.
The overall economy throughout Florida and along the Treasure Coast market continues to improve. This is driving purchases from investors, developers, home buyers and other end users.
Central Florida Farmland/Cropland – (Southwest and Central Florida; row crops in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Okeechobee and Polk counties)
The one sale noted for the Immokalee growing region (Collier, Hendry and Lee counties) indicated a sale price of $13,753 per farmable acre. That is one of the higher prices observed over the past several years.
The Palmetto (Manatee County) and Ruskin (Hillsborough County) growing regions continue to have stable market values, both averaging $7,000 to $8,500 per farmable acre. Depending on the proximity to packinghouses and irrigation infrastructure, an existing strawberry operation can easily have values in excess of $30,000 to $35,000 per farmable acre in the Plant City area.
The interior counties of DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and Polk continue to have lower per acre values, ranging from $4,500 to $7,000 per farmable acre.
There continues to be interest in acquiring farmland by “institutional investors” who target properties that can be leased to area growers for a 5-6 percent capitalization rate back to the investor.
South Florida Farmland/Cropland – (Everglades Agricultural Area)
There were five notable transactions in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) in 2016. All were within Palm Beach County. Lands in the central region of the EAA within Palm Beach County are the most desirable, with the highest prices exceeding $11,000 per acre. Lands in the fringe of the EAA on sandy soils within Hendry and Glades counties generally sell for significantly less.
Demand for agricultural lands within the EAA has been increasing over the last few years, but available properties on the market remain tight. The best farmlands with the deepest muck soil have historically commanded the highest prices.
South Florida Farmland/Cropland – (Miami-Dade County/Homestead)
One large and several medium-sized land deals took place within the Homestead area in 2016. The most significant was the September transaction of 465 acres of improved farmland for a little more than $18 million; the property had been purchased in 2005 for $44.6 million.
Other sales of 40 acres and more of agricultural land were recorded, with prices of $21,000 to $38,000 per acre.
The Homestead area agricultural industry is faced with high costs of production and direct competition with Mexico. Urbanization is another real challenge for vegetable farmers, and farmers also deal with various serious agricultural pests.
Strawberry and Row Crop Farms – (Hillsborough County)
Ten farm sales in 2016 ranged from 10 to 291 acres. Eight of the farms, totaling 613 acres, were sold strictly for farming use. One farm sold for $8,677 per acre; the others went for $20,000 to $28,087 per acre. Seven of the properties were established strawberry farms; they sold for an average $26,102 per gross acre.
Two of the farms, totaling 195 gross acres, were sold for residential and commercial development uses at prices of $30,028 and $104,085 per acre.
Farmland is pressured by urbanization in Hillsborough County. Housing demand is on the rise in the southwestern area of the county and commercial warehousing developers continue to expand along the Interstate-4/County Line Road corridor.
Residential Lots and Land – (Central Florida: Brevard, Hillsborough, Lake, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota, Sumter and Volusia counties)
A recovery from the recession is being fueled by population growth, causing a high demand for residential land and developed lots. Competition is high for quality land for subdivisions. Values for residential land rose in 2016. This report covers mostly land for single-family homes and some low-density multi-family homes; it doesn’t cover property for high-density housing, such as apartments.
The average price per upland acre for the 11 counties was $47,667 and the median price was $55,865. Average per-acre prices by county were: Sarasota, $87,346; Orange, $83,501; Manatee, $80,290; Hillsborough, $71,339; Pasco, $63,761; Osceola, $51,096; Polk, $34,597; Lake, $34,512; Sumter, $29,599; Brevard, $26,189 and Volusia, $25,370.
Lot sales were reported for eight of the counties, with an average lot price of $56,520. Manatee had the highest average lot value at $92,704. Pasco and Sarasota had very little lot activity (but plenty of land sales). Average lot prices in the other counties were: Hillsborough, $64,896; Osceola, $60,725; Orange, $54,328; Lake, $34,782 and Polk, $32,132.
Home prices in Florida increased up to 10.5 percent in 2016. The housing market is experiencing stable, healthy growth. Predictions for 2017 are for home price increases of from 3 to 5 percent. The market for residential land to develop and for finished lots will remain strong into 2017 and investment in this land will continue to be very desirable.
Conservation Easements, Sales and Remainder Rights
Twenty-one conservation easements were purchased in 2016 by various state, federal and local agencies totaling 30,076 acres for a price of $61.8 million. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services led the way with nine transactions.
There were not many conservation land purchases in 2016, but several exchanges were negotiated.
Several remainder right sales (the sale of land encumbered with a conservation easement) were evaluated. The most notable transactions are three sales of farmland in Homestead with prices ranging from $23,500 to $27,000 per acre. In all three cases, Miami-Dade County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had purchased agricultural conservation easements on the land in 2016.
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About Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate: Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate is regarded as an authority on all types of Florida land and conservation easements, transacting over $2 billion in sales from 1996 through mid-2016. Offering land, forestry, and conservation easement real estate services through CBC Saunders Real Estate and the CBC Saunders Real Estate |Forestry Group, the Saunders team of land professionals and foresters offers advisory and transactional services through the home office in Lakeland, FL, the north Florida office in High Springs, FL, and its network of Coldwell Banker Commercial affiliate offices nationwide and worldwide. We provide services to land and commercial clients through both CBCSRE and our commercial real estate brokerage, Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Ralston Dantzler Realty. For more information, please visitSRELand.com