2020 Lay of the Land Market Report

Introduction by Dean Saunders, ALC, CCIM

Lay of the Land Market Report 2020In February last year, I wrote in this market report that I didn’t see any potential economic headwinds for 2020 other than shocks inherent in any Presidential election year. Like most Americans at the time, I wasn’t aware that the COVID-19 coronavirus would create such rapid economic shifts.

In addition to the pandemic, the elections were contentious and civil strife created more uncertainties. Despite the uncertainties, Florida’s land market activity was extremely high, particularly in ranches and recreational properties.

During the first four months of the pandemic we saw a slow down in all sectors. However,  beginning in July, it was clear that demand for land was taking off. We started getting calls, started getting active, and sold many properties that had been on the market for some time.

For people with the means to find a property here they could have some social distance and safety was very compelling. Some people just  wanted to be out of dense metro areas, and some even wanted to go off the grid. Many did not like feeling too interdependent on others.

Adding to the exodus from cities was the “work from home” phenomenon. During the pandemic, many people discovered they could do their jobs remotely and took the opportunity to move into more suburban or rural areas. While it remains to be seen if this trend is permanent, I believe it could have detrimental effects on specific real estate sectors like office and retail and the Downtown Business Districts in many cities.

The pandemic possibly accelerated some economic trends already underway, like the continued influx of about 1,000 people into Florida each day. As more data is presented, this number continues to grow. Beyond the demand for ranch and recreational land, residential development land and timberland have been strong markets as the state meets the needs of the growing population. We do see some supply and supply chain issues, mainly resulting from the strong demand for housing.

The last half of the year defied all logic, and the activity has continued into 2021. However, I expect another good year for Florida land in 2021. Still, many unknown factors can affect the land market, For Instance, a new presidential administration, tax reforms, and potential changes to 1031 exchange guidelines.

Interest rates also play a significant role in real estate trends. The Feds current policy of maintaining historically low interest rates undoubtedly helped fuel economic recovery during the pandemic and the demand for real estate. That approach may shift in 2021. We will have to see what happens.

About the Lay of the Land Market Report


Now in its tenth-annual edition, the Lay of the Land Market Report continues to be the single source of verified Florida land sales information. We provide data to landowners that can be  accurately interpreted and applied, leading to more informed, relevant decisions.

Targeting ten property types in our report, we work diligently to capture all land sales for each category. We partner with a network of appraisers and land professionals to vet the data and bring you accurate information. The result is the most comprehensive view of Florida land values in the industry today. 

Even as we continue to improve our data collection process, we remain committed to the privacy and anonymity of individual landowners when illustrating transaction information. We list no buyers or sellers in this report. 

The Lay of the Land Market Report is the culmination of a significant investment in processes, technology, and people. We appreciate the experienced and impressive team of appraisers, land professionals, and staff who contributed many hours and considerable effort to produce this publication.

As we strive to improve this report, suggestions to increase its usefulness to you, the landowner, are welcome.