Any time I start tracking land sales, I get sidetracked by all the variables in each sale. For example, a remote, steep 20 acre tract of land in the outreaches of Black Mountain can sell for much less than a ¼ acre tract within the Black Mountain city limits. The mix of size and location of property sales makes it very difficult to compare land sales from year to year and get a very meaningful trend.
As usual, I have used data from Asheville area multiple listing services (MLS). The data doesn't include for sale by owners or some new developments.
Beginning in 2006 with a couple of lots and then in 2007, the development The Settings listed some of their lots in MLS for the first time. The attached chart for 2007 includes eight Settings lots that sold last year which skews the numbers somewhat.
While the number of acres sold in 2007 seems to be a large increase over the previous year, it is actually just a little bit below the 5 year average of 530 acres sold. The price per acre rises dramatically from 2006 to 2007, but again it bodes mentioning that including The Settings' sales has impacted that figure for 2007.
Perhaps the best way of evaluating land values is to look at similar sales from year to year. I know from my own experience selling lots in Montreat that I have seen a large increase in prices over the years. I remember what I first started selling real estate in 1999 that buyers were complaining that someone was asking $75,000 for a lot. In 2007, several lots sold for more that $170,000. I have watched lots sell for $120,000 in 2005 to $175,000 in 2007.
I also asked some of my brokerage friends if they had recently sold the same lot twice which gives a very clear picture of where land sale values are.
Corey Atherton, a broker at Creston, said that a lot at Creston that sold for $115,000 in January 2005 was resold for $205,000 in August of 2007, a 78% increase in approximately 2.5 years. Another lot in Creston sold for $166,000 in February of 2006 and resold for $205,000 in September of 2007 for a 23% increase in approximately one and a half years.
Sharon Came, a broker at Greybeard Realty who specializes in the Laurel Ridge development, said a lot there sold for $58,000 in March 2004 and then resold for $130,000 in November 2007, a 124% increase in three and a half years.
As Black Mountain gets more and more developed, I would assume that over time large tracts will become less numerous and represent a lower portion of total sales. Similarly, property within close proximity of town is becoming a smaller portion of total sales as the area surrounding Black Mountain gets more developed.
My experience in Montreat as well as my colleagues' experiences at Creston and Laurel Ridge reflect the increase in land values occurring in the BlackMountain area. This is not to say that all places have appreciated in a similar fashion, in fact some have decreased over time, but it is clear to me that the general trend in land prices indicates a tremendous appreciation of value.