Vacant Lot Sales Overview
Fewer transactions but activity remained solid
While significantly lower than 2021 figures, 2022 vacant land sales enjoyed a very solid year compared to historical figures. Through December 31, 2022, vacant land sales measured 79 transactions totaling $202 million, a respective decrease of 41 percent and 11 percent from 2021 but in line with the five-year transaction average. On the other hand, dollar volume was $50 million higher than the five-year average. In conjunction with the increased high-end activity for finished residential homes, there were also a few notable high-end land sales in 2022 which contributed to a higher-than-average dollar volume.
The record price for a large-tract parcel was set in 2013 with the $30 million transfer of 100 acres of land on Old South Road (there were some improvements, but the transaction was categorized as land in the MLS). The next highest was the sale of 220 acres to conservation entities in 2012. In 2022, we saw a new competitor in land sales with the transfer of a non-subdividable parcel of 1.23 waterfront acres to the tune of $18.875 million. Unfortunately, statistics become muddled when other notable transactions mimic a land sale but are still categorized as residential sales due to existing structures, despite a buyer’s intention to raze the property. The 2020 sale of 2.16 water-front acres for $21 million comes to mind – it was classified as a residential transaction but could truly be viewed in this list of record land sales. The point is, between the $18.875 million sale and the four other land transactions above $5 million, 2022 included notable high-end land activity.
There were also two subdivision sales, technically resales, worth mentioning; the $9.2 million bulk transfer of 10 parcels at 2 Buck Hollow Way (prior sale price of $3.625 million in 2018) and the $8.4 million sale of a portion (noted as 36 lots) of property along Old South Road. Another prominent component of 2022 land sales were transfers within recently created subdivisions. These transfers include land sales on Ellens Way, Mariner Way, North Mill Street, Cannonbury Lane and the most recent addition, Maple Lane, where seven newly created lots off Rugged Road traded between $1.3 million and $1.78 million.
While analyzing the median sale value from year to year comes with faults due to the greatly varied nature of land characteristics on the island, we found an interesting insight in a recent resale of a parcel of land that helps illustrate the change in land value since 2019. A nearly half-acre parcel at 85 Vestal Street traded for $1.26 million in April of 2019. That same parcel of land traded for $2.05 million in April of 2022. This represented a 62 percent return over the three-year period and an 18 percent annualized return.