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Working Paper 19-01: The Price of Residential Land for Counties, ZIP codes, and Census Tracts in the United States

Published: 1/2/2019
Author:

​William Larson (FHFA), Jessica Shui (FHFA), Morris Davis (Rutgers), Stephen Oliner (AEI)

Abstract:

We use data on the appraised land value from a data set of more than 16 million appraisals to produce annual estimates of the average price of land used in single-family housing. We generate a balanced panel of data on land value per acre for more than 900 counties, 8,000 ZIP codes, and 11,000 census tracts in the United States between 2012 and 2017, covering 85% of the population and 83% of all single-family homes.  Based on the predictions of a calibrated optimal model of teardowns, we limit our sample of appraised land values for homes with an effective age of no more than 10 years.  We standardize these land values to a per-acre basis, and then spatially interpolate to the universe of single-family homes using Kriging.  Our analysis produces three main findings for our sample: land prices in most areas increased between 2012 and 2017; land prices tended to rise faster than house prices; and land appreciated most rapidly in areas with relatively high density of structures.  The land prices we generate are intended to aid researchers in Urban and Regional Economics and policy-makers monitoring the health of the nation's single-family housing market.

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