Median single-family lot prices came down in 2019, breaking their relentless climb for the first time since 2013, according to NAHB's analysis of the Census Bureau's Survey of Construction data, The 2019 median lot price was $45,000, which amounts to a 9% decline since 2018, when half of the lots were selling at or above $49,500.
The West divisions — Mountain and Pacific — stood out as the two Census divisions where lot values continued to grow rapidly, with the Pacific setting a new record high with half of the lots priced above $95,000.
A Regional Breakdown
Some of the most expensive lots are in New England. Half of all sold single-family homes started in New England in 2019 report lot values in excess of $110,000, though below the 2018 record of $140,000. New England is known for strict local zoning regulations that often require very low densities. Therefore, it is not surprising that typical single-family spec homes started in New England are built on some of the largest and most expensive lots in the nation.
The Pacific division has the smallest lots. However, median lot value reached $95,000 in 2019, the second most expensive value in the nation and a new nominal record for the division. As a result, Pacific division lots stand out for being most expensive in the nation in terms of per acre costs.
In sharp contrast with the rest of the nation but aligning with the neighboring Pacific, the Mountain division recorded a strong rise in lot values, with median values jumping from $50,000 in 2018 to $65,000 in 2019. This made Mountain division lots the third most expensive in the United States.
At the other end of the lot value distribution are two divisions in the South — East South Central and South Atlantic — where half of the lots are sold for $35,000 or less. The East South Central Division simultaneously recorded the second largest lots in the nation, thus defining some of the most economical lots as well as lowest per acre costs in the nation.
NAHB economist Natalia Siniavskaia provides more details in this Eye on Housing blog post.