A Vacant Land Price Rebound in 2018 as the Market Trends Up

Based on data from Lots and Lands properties in the MLSSAZ, the 2018  year-end statistics for the Tucson Metro area bode well for our local, residential land market going forward into 2019.
Land inventory was down to 1319 parcels, a 5% decrease from the previous year. The year concluded with a strong total of 741 closings, representing a 13% increase over 2017. Most importantly, the median price of sold lots increased by 52% in the last year to $72,500 in price by December 2018. Land prices rose in nearly every area of Tucson in 2018, a trend which I believe will continue in 2019 and beyond.
In the Catalina Foothills area, the median sales price in 2018 grew 16% from $163,500 to $194,000. For example, the Pima Canyon custom home site subdivision started 2017 with entry-level lots that were listed the mid $300,000’s but increased into the mid $400,000’s in 2018. The better lots were also listed and sold quickly, which hasn’t been the case for several years. Some of the older, gated subdivisions also saw substantial price increases with two 1-acre Quail Canyon Estates lots selling for $262,500 and $369,000 respectively, and a 1.8-acre parcel in Rockliff selling for $360,000.
Meanwhile, Tanque Verde Valley was a particularly active area for land sales in 2018. The median sales price increased 20% from $119,000 in 2017 to $148,200 in 2018. Additionally, the number of closed lots doubled from 24 sales in 2017 to 49 in 2018. Particularly significant was the increase in the value of SR zoned lots. In 2017, many sold in the $125,000-$160,000 range with the highest price sale at $212,500. In 2018, there were 14 sales of $160,000 and above with the highest price sale of $350,000.
In the Tucson Mountain area, the median sales price of vacant lots and land rose 26% from $72,750 in 2017 to $98,950 in 2018. As on the northeast side of Tucson, the number of closed lots also increased dramatically from 60 sales in 2017 to 84 in 2018. A good example comes from the Tucson Mountain Reserve Subdivision. In the last several years lot prices had been hovering in the $90,000-$140,000 range. But then in 2018, the first sale above $200,000 in over 10 years occured with an ungated lot at $219,000.
In the Central area of Tucson, although the number of closed lots decreased slightly from 63 in 2017 to 57 in 2018, the median sales price rose 9% from $45,500 to $50,000 in 2018. Well located R-2 and R-3 zoned parcels were in demand for in-fill construction of small, multi-unit development.
Throughout this past year and continuing in the first month of this year, I’ve seen a marked increase in prospective buyer calls, property showings, inquiries from out-of-town visitors, new website visits, and offers written on vacant land and lots. Builders are beginning to buy lots for custom home building, and land subdivisions dormant for several years are resurfacing with new prices and marketing programs. 2019 is poised to be another year characterized by strong sales and increasing prices.

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