Investing in land has been shown to be a smart and lucrative way to diversify and grow your portfolio. However, just like with a traditional home, there are improvements you can make to help increase its value and curb appeal. Learn 5 simple things you can do to enhance your rural property and protect your investment.
As homeowners, most of us make it a point to become familiar with home improvement projects that offer the best return on investment. Kitchens and bathroom upgrades, for example, will increase the value of your home more than installing high-end landscaping or re-doing your garage interior.
However, when it comes to improving the value of raw, undeveloped land things aren’t so cut and dry. The reason being: different types of land serve different purposes such as hunting, farming, or recreation. Thus, there’s not a one-size-fits all in terms of ROI on raw land improvements.
As stated by Zac Ryan of Ryan Appraisal Services in 15 Ways an Appraiser Determines Land Values: “When the improvement enhances the true use potential — and the buyer’s understanding of the use potential — of a property, that increases its value.”
That said, there are some tried and true land improvement projects that can help enhance the value of most types of raw rural land. Here are 5 ideas to help you get started:
#1: Improve Access
Access issues can make even the most idyllic property look like a lemon to potential buyers. Although not all access problems are fixable, things like a lack of road access could be remedied by talking to your neighbor about an easement and road maintenance agreement.
If you already have road front access, do you have a functional driveway in place? If not, check out our article on how and why to install a gravel driveway (the most affordable and environmentally-friendly option), or opt for asphalt or concrete. And if you do have a driveway, in place, make sure it’s well maintained.
#2: Work on Esthetics
Unlike suburban homes, rural properties aren’t meant to look perfectly manicured or professionally landscaped. However, your property should look cared for and “picked up”. Some basic esthetic upgrades include: removing dead or diseased trees, clearing out brush and overgrowth, pruning trees, clearing out any trash, dealing with eye sores like unused oil tanks, broken down vehicles/equipment, addressing issues with ponds or water features, mending and/or painting fences, fertilizing fields and/or addressing soil health issues to improve pasture appearance, removing any hazards like chemicals or old pesticides, fixing up or rebuilding old hunting stands, and fixing up buildings in disrepair like barns, greenhouses with torn plastic or broken panes, and old worn out sheds.
#3: Plant or Clear Trees
Depending on your property, the addition of native or ornamental trees and hedges can add a sense of privacy and beauty to your land. On the flip slide, the clearing of trees can also be beneficial if it improves the land’s functionality and/or showcases an otherwise hidden spectacular view (just make sure and call in the pros for large land-clearing jobs).
#4: Add Relevant and Functional Amenities
Depending on your budget, the addition of certain amenities can really enhance your property’s appeal and value.
For example, installing a pond has broad appeal for those interested in attracting wildlife, starting a farm, living off-grid, hunting and fishing, or just to enhance the view.
Likewise, the addition of a rustic cabin or other shelter is attractive to recreational land buyers, those looking for a weekend home, or even buyers wishing to build a more permanent home who need a temporary place to live during the building process.
Other amenities to consider based on your budget include: adding trails, building a campsite, putting in garden beds or food plots, building hunting stands, installing fencing or a gate at the front of the driveway, running utilities to the property, drilling a well, installing foot bridges over creeks and streams, and building a barn, pole barn, shed, or other outbuildings for storage.
#5: Address Drainage Issues
Most properties have some areas that could benefit from better drainage. You can address this in several ways, from installing underground drainage lines to grading or planting a bog, water garden or water-loving trees (like willows or elderberry). We discuss this at-length in: Here’s How to Solve Boggy Problem Areas on your Land.
When considering land improvements to increase the value the of raw land, always ask yourself: will this enhance the true use potential of my property? If you’re unsure, become more familiar with comparable properties for sale in your area and/or talk to an experienced land agent to get their advice on what property features have consistently attracted buyers.
Whether you’re planning to sell in the near future, or just want to take steps to grow and protect your investment, keeping this question at the forefront will help guide you to make the best upgrades and improvements to your unique property.