Owning a plot of vacant rural land comes with a lot of benefits and versatility, but how do you make money from this type of property?
You can make money from vacant rural land by selling or renting the property, developing it for agricultural, residential, commercial, or industrial use - or by harvesting resources from it such as oil, natural gas, uranium, as well as renewable energy resources.
Owning land is one of the safest and easiest ways of earning income. Property values tend to show a consistent increase in market value, which makes them as reliable as they are profitable. This has led to investment groups (big and small) getting involved in the real estate market. Vacant rural lands often give the appearance of not having a lot of immediate value, however, these land parcels can be extremely profitable - if approached the right way. To help you understand how to make money from your vacant rural land, we are going to show you each way that you can capitalize on your land parcel.
After working in the real estate industry for years, I have seen just how profitable owning vacant rural land can be. As an industry professional, I always advise that you capitalize on the best qualities of your vacant rural land so that you can optimize your profit margins.
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Making Money: Vacant Rural Land
Vacant rural land parcels offer up a lot of potential and opportunities for a landowner. When you have this type of property at your disposal, you have the freedom to pursue just about any type of land use that you want, as your property is essentially a clean slate. With that being said, you are going to want to carefully assess the qualities of your property so that you are able to make a decision that will result in you receiving the most amount of money possible.
The first thing you want to consider is where your vacant rural land is located. When seeking advice from a real estate professional, the first thing they will tell you is that location is everything. It still is and always has been the golden rule of property values and it will be the greatest determining factor in how much money you can expect to make. While this is especially the case for urban areas, rural land parcels are also heavily affected by their location.
The next thing you want to consider is what your goals are for the property and what you can afford to do. If you want to make quick cash without investing your time or money into your property, selling it is a very easy solution but it may not be the most profitable if you are thinking long-term. Instead, you could get creative with different ways that you can utilize your property to maximize how much money you can ultimately make.
If you have a certain goal in mind, you should consider what your budget is to pursue it. At the end of the day, sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and investing in your land can make all the difference in how much you can profit. Let’s dive into all of the different ways that you can make money with your vacant rural land.
The easiest way that you can make money immediately from your vacant rural land is to simply sell off your property. This is relatively straightforward, does not necessarily require any kind of financial investment from your end, and can potentially result in huge profits. Here’s how you can sell your vacant rural land.
Selling your land can be done in a few different ways. The first is to take a DIY approach with your vacant rural land by personally advertising the property.
While you can do this with conventional means such as fliers and newspaper ads, the best way to sell your land is to utilize an online real estate platform where you list your property, its specifications, and your asking price. Interested buyers can view your listing, reach out to you, and then make you an offer, which both parties can agree on.
This gives you the freedom to comfortably sit and wait for an interested buyer - instead of having to do a bunch of footwork which will require you to spend your time and money on promoting your property listing.
Real Estate Agent
A great way to get assurance that your vacant rural land will sell is to entrust a professional real estate agent with your property. This takes a lot of the hassles of selling land out of the picture and can result in a quick and profitable sale.
However, you want to make sure that you are dealing with a reliable real estate agent. Not all agents within the industry are as reputable and some may struggle to sell your property - and even if they do, the price they negotiated for it may not be what you expected.
In addition, you should bear in mind that real estate agents do not work for free and they will charge you a commission for the final selling price of the vacant rural land. Don’t be surprised to find that a real estate agent may charge you as much as 5% or 6% of the property value.
A key feature of vacant rural land parcels is that they are often quite large, which not only increases their overall value but also offers the potential to make more money through property division.
If your vacant land parcel is several acres or even more, you could divide the property into numerous sections and sell them off individually. This is particularly cost-efficient if you have a property that is located in a favorable location for pursuing different types of land developments.
In addition, you can get creative with how you approach your property division by allocating some of your divided land units for sale while holding on to the rest for different use - or a later sale. Regardless, property divisions often come with more versatility for making money from your vacant rural land and it gives you the freedom to determine other ways of profiting from your property.
If you are on the fence about selling your vacant rural land but still want to make money from it, the ideal way to get the best of both worlds is to put up the property for rent.
Rental properties are a great way to receive income from your vacant rural land, while at the same time retaining full ownership. This can be a very advantageous and strategic move, as you are able to sit on the property and develop new ideas for how to use the land - or wait for a better time to sell.
As the landowner, you can also dictate the terms of the rental agreement and tilt them in your favor if necessary. This gives you the power to rent out your property for a short-term lease or a long-term one. Depending on the agreement you make with your tenant, you may find that they pursue land developments that could increase the market value of your vacant rural land.
If that is the case, you could be profiting from your tenant directly through rent, as well as whatever other investments they put into the property (so long as they are immovable).
While a vacant rural land parcel will catch the eye of some real estate investors and some private buyers, you will likely find that most people like to buy something that has a certain amount of development. Buyers prefer to acquire either a finalized product or something that has immediate promising value.
With that being said, you may end up making considerably more from your vacant rural land if you put in the time and the money to invest in some sort of development. This can potentially make the value of your property skyrocket if you approach your development strategically. You can achieve this by carefully calculating the primary qualities of your land, which you then capitalize on.
However, you should know that developing vacant rural land comes with a certain level of risk - just like any other investment. While making good money from the property investment is likely, it is not guaranteed, which is why taking the time to carefully weigh out the logistics of your development and your finances is paramount.
As mentioned above, location is everything. This is the first thing you want to consider for your land development, as some locations are much more suitable for certain developments than others. In addition, some vacant rural land parcels may not be suitable for any kind of profitable development. So, don’t jump the gun on any project and approach your investment with caution. Let’s take a look at some of the property developments you can pursue on your vacant rural land.
The most common type of development found on vacant rural land is agricultural. Given that these properties tend to be far away from urban environments and have plenty of open space, they are ideal for farming and food production.
Establishing your vacant rural land as farmland is one of the best ways to see a return on your property with very little risk and solid profits. The reason for this is that agricultural developments are not overly invasive and can be manipulated fairly easily later on. Farmlands generally have very few structures and only need to be improved for cultivating crops.
With that being said, not all vacant rural lands are suitable for farming. In order for food production to be optimal, certain conditions need to be met. Let’s take a look at these conditions:
Vacant rural lands that have experienced severe land degradation or soil infertility are not suitable for food production.
These properties have either been damaged by human activity or never had quality soil in the first place. Pursuing agricultural land development without confirming the quality of your soil is not a position you want to find yourself in.
To prevent this, you should hire a specialist to come to conduct an Environmental Impact Report on your property. This report will give you concrete information on the quality of your soil and your surrounding environment to help you determine the agricultural worth of your vacant rural land.
If the report indicates that your soil is fertile, you should not have issues pursuing your agricultural development.
While soil fertility is essential for growing crops, you are going to want to confirm that the external conditions of your area are suitable for food production.
Crops can greatly vary in the kind of climate conditions that are ideal for growing. If your Environmental Impact Report indicates that your soil is healthy, the next thing you want to do is select a crop that will properly grow in your region.
You can hire a professional consultant to help you get your operation in motion, or you can simply do some research to determine what will grow best for your climate.
If you had your heart set on pursuing agricultural development but your soil lacks nutrition and your climate is not ideal for growing food, you may still be in luck.
In this situation, you should consider a farm that produces livestock or some other type of animal product. These sorts of farms are not nearly as location dependent, do not require soil fertility, and also are more flexible in regards to the climate.
Establishing this kind of farming operation can help you make money from your vacant rural land, which can amount to a 6-figure annual income.
While most residential developments tend to be pursued in urban cities, there is still plenty of potential in establishing residential properties on vacant rural land.
Land parcels located in rural environments come with a lot of benefits for developing residential properties that urban areas do not have. Cities fall under much tighter regulation, which can hinder creative residential developments and limit the outcome of a project. Rural areas, on the other hand, have much less red tape and generally offer the developer much more freedom when designing a project.
With that being said, many homeowners actually prefer to acquire a private residence that is located out in the countryside for this very reason. Here are some of the benefits of residential development in a rural environment:
- Privacy - the quietude and peace of mind that comes with living in a rural area is a calling for so many homeowners.
- Creative Freedom - the ability to design and develop a residence that is not confined to zoning laws or development restrictions.
- Less Regulation - there will be less government oversight and paperwork throughout the development process.
- Price - rural land prices are considerably lower than properties located in urban areas. More on this next.
One of the biggest drawbacks of residential developments in urban areas is that the cost of the land alone can be so pricey - before even calculating the overall cost of development. This can be a major issue for people that want to live in a nice home but simply don’t have the finances to support their purchase.
Residential developments in rural areas offer the potential for aspiring homeowners to buy the home of their dreams at a fraction of the cost of purchasing one in a city. If you are thinking about this type of development for your vacant rural land, you should consider whether the location is in a suitable living environment. Some of the key things to assess would be:
- Location - if your residential development is located somewhere that is favorable for living such as a place with a nice climate, it could be a great selling point for buyers.
- Accessibility - having basic access to roads, highways, townships, or even urban environments could be a huge plus for your real estate value.
- Natural Aesthetic - if your residential development has a natural aesthetic, you may find that this feature alone is enough to catch the eye of many interested buyers.
If you are set on pursuing a residential development on your vacant rural land, a great way to make money from your property is to rent out your land. As mentioned above, land rentals are a great and versatile way of seeing immediate profits. This approach offers you the ability to cash in on rent from your residential development while at the same time holding on to it for a later sale - or even for your personal use.
Pursuing a commercial business in a rural area comes with a lot of perks that business owners in the city don’t have. While you sacrifice the busy traffic that urban areas are known for, you also gain the freedom of pursuing a commercial business development that could thrive in a rural area.
Commercial businesses in urban areas are often confined by space and also lack the freedom to pursue unconventional business ideas. Cities are notorious for placing a stack of regulations on businesses, which come with more taxes, regulations, and red tape. This can be a defeating factor for many aspiring business owners.
If you are considering developing a commercial business on your vacant rural land, you will find that the process of getting things up and running is much smoother - and much cheaper! As always, what you want to consider first and foremost is the location of your property. It goes without saying that some commercial businesses will do better in certain locations than others.
Try to carefully assess the location of your property to determine what kind of business is more suited for your vacant rural land. If you own land that is located within the outskirts of a city or township - or even within 40 to 50 miles of one - you will find that the following commercial businesses can do fairly well:
- Car Dealerships
- Wholesale Retailer
A lot of commercial businesses like these often do much better in rural areas. The reason for this is that they are not as limited on space. Establishing a warehouse or a large car dealership in a city can be extremely challenging and expensive, which is why developing a business like this in a rural environment can be very profitable. This enables many businesses to lower their prices to attract clients and customers from all over your state - or even the nation.
However, developing these kinds of commercial businesses may require that you put in a substantial amount of work yourself and may also involve a rather large upfront investment to get the operation up and running, which can be less appealing to some rural landowners. If that is the case, then you can still pursue some other less conventional business prospects that could also result in solid profits. Here are some examples:
- Horseback Riding - if your vacant rural land has favorable conditions such as nice scenery and the potential for designing trails, then establishing your property for horseback riding could be an easy business to capitalize on.
- Paintball - while paintball may make your rural property a little messy, it’s nothing that should affect the long-term value of your land. Establishing a paintball arena on your vacant rural land is as easy as it is profitable.
- Private Campground - if your rural land offers the feeling of the great outdoors, you may have an excellent location for a nature retreat. Attract travelers and campers passing through your area by setting up a basic campground on your property. This approach is easy to maintain and design.
- Golf Course - taking care of a golf course can be a bit pricey, but if you are willing to put in on the investment, you may end up attracting a lot of wealthy customers to your business. If you wanted to take this approach further, you could potentially turn your golf course into a country club.
These sorts of businesses are not nearly as big of an investment as developing a conventional business and are much easier to manipulate later on. Given that you likely won’t have too many permanent structures on your land, you can always adapt your property into a different project - or simply sell it as it is.
If you are an ambitious developer and have a vision for a profitable enterprise, you may want to consider pursuing industrial development on your vacant rural land. These sorts of developments come with more risk and more investment, which is why you want to be very calculated with your decision.
Industrial developments are perfect for vacant rural properties and you will find that most of these types of operations work exclusively outside of urban areas. Industries are usually heavily regulated and require a substantial amount of permits to operate, which is why becoming established on vacant rural land tends to have a lot of appeal.
With that being said, industrial development is expensive. If you have the financial backing to put down on your development, you should not have too many issues getting things in motion. However, most people who pursue industrial developments prefer to work with investors to share financial responsibility and accountability. The best way to do this is to work with a handful of trusted individuals from your network or consult an investment group.
Once you have established your finances, you can begin pursuing the following types of industrial developments:
- Food Service
- Other Manufacturing
Alternatively, if you don’t want to take on the responsibility of industrial development, a good approach would be to simply lease out your vacant rural land to an individual or investment group that is interested.
To the untrained eye, vacant rural land can seem pretty unappealing due to the perception of these properties not having monetary value. However, these properties could have a lot of hidden qualities that need to be tapped and discovered. One of the best ways to make money from your vacant rural land is to utilize it for resource harvesting.
The resources found on some properties could literally be worth a goldmine in some cases, which is why you want to identify exactly what sort of assets your vacant rural land has. Unless you are a trained professional at analyzing properties for resources, you will likely need to hire someone to come to assess your property.
Before you begin hiring every type of professional imaginable, it may make sense to narrow down your options by selecting one or two resources to focus on. While finding resources can be a bit of a wildcard, there are some telltale signs you can look for to make your decision more calculated. A good place to start is to consider the region your property is in. If your area has had a history of oil drilling or gold mining, you may find that these types of resources may be more logical for your vacant rural land.
With that being said, once you feel comfortable with a selected resource, try to find a reputable professional within that industry to come to analyze the conditions of your property. The most common professionals that specialize in this sort of thing are geologists and geophysicists. These individuals can conduct a series of tests and will provide you with an analysis of your property. If the results come back positive, you can potentially begin harvesting the following resources:
- Natural Gas
Depending on the amount of resources that you end up harvesting, you could end up making millions from your property’s resources alone. This is a great way of making money from your vacant rural land while still holding on to the property for a later sale.
These days, renewable energy seems to be all the hype - with many industries, governments, and private individuals eager to hop on the trend of sustainable living. We have seen the renewable energy industry boom in recent years as the technology to support green energy keeps advancing at an escalating pace.
Many vacant rural landowners are capitalizing on this by utilizing their property for harvesting renewable energy. This new era approach for harvesting green energy has offered up a lot of opportunities to vacant rural landowners who want to make money off of land that does not have any monetary value. If you have followed up with the above-mentioned approach of harvesting resources and found that your property does not have anything worthy, you will be delighted to know that you can still make a considerable amount of money from your vacant rural land.
Harvesting renewable energy is a fantastic alternative to other resources, as you are not dependent on the underlying physical qualities of your property. Instead, all you need to do is capitalize on the climate of your area. Here are some of the renewable energy resources you can expect to harvest from your vacant rural land.
- Solar Energy
- Wind Energy
While there are some other renewable energy resources out there worth harvesting, you will find that these two options have the most popularity and practicality. The technology for these renewable energies is the most developed and will likely result in your receiving the most profit. However, before you start investing in a solar or wind farm, you are going to want to confirm that your vacant rural land is worthy of harvesting these renewable energies.
You should hire a renewable energy professional to come to analyze the climate conditions of your property to assure you that your property is suitable for this type of investment. Before you hire a professional, you may be able to identify some of the traits of your property on your own simply by assessing how much annual sun or wind your vacant rural land gets. This may help you narrow down which professional to hire.
Once you have your renewable energy professional take a look at your property, they should be able to help you finalize what resource to harvest. You will then work with the professional to determine how many solar panels or wind turbines your property needs and where they can be optimally placed. After you have gotten your operation up and running, you can work with a local energy provider to connect and sell off the renewable energy from your vacant rural land to the grid.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling