How Much is an Acre – Explained

By: ROS Team

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You don’t have to be a farmer to research or wonder how much is an acre of land. Many residential lots are also measured based on the acres of land on which they sit. It can be helpful to know the value of your lot based on its acreage. Likewise, it’s also helpful to know how much land you will be moving onto when you move into your new home, especially if you want to keep livestock or grow food on your property.

How Much is an Acre of Land?

The word ‘acre’ is derived from the word “field.” It was the amount of land a pair of oxen and a man could plow in a day.  Today, an acre is equivalent to 43,560 square feet of land.  In farming, however, an acre is equal to a section of land that is 660 feet long and 66 feet wide. One square mile equates to 640 acres per section.

Cost of an Acre of Land

An Acre in Today’s Terms

How much is an acre in today’s terms? In terms of today’s measurements, an acre of land is equal to the following:

  • 0.405 hectares
  • 0.01 square furlongs
  • 0.002 square miles
  • 4,046.86 square meters
  • 4,840 square yards
  • 43,560 square feet

For more insight, think of an acre of land as nine basketball courts or 16 tennis courts. One American football field is equal to roughly 1.32 acres.

Cost of an Acre of Land

In 1800, the U.S. government gave away millions of acres of land at the price of $1.25 per acre. That was a hefty price to pay back then, so many people couldn’t afford to purchase land. The government readjusted the price in 1854 to an average of 12.5 cents per acre and sold nearly 2 million acres.

President Abraham Lincoln passed the Homestead Act of 1862, which made land even more affordable. According to the Act, anyone who paid a token fee could claim 160 acres of land. Through the Act, people bought and settled nearly 270 million unrestricted acres of land.

The cost of land and homesites are nowhere near that price today. At the start of the 21s century, the price hovers between $50,000 and $100,000. In some areas, it’s still almost unaffordable to buy land.

The cost of an acre of land depends on geographic location. The average cost also varies depending on the region. An acre of land is likely to be expensive in urban areas, equal to multi-acre in rural areas. A single block in NYC may cost more than the 100 rural acres in Kansas. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis data shows that the average cost of land is $12,000 per acre.

Why Acre Size is Important

Even if you don’t plan to buy the property or start a farm, knowing how much is an acre of land is beneficial. You might need to ascertain the size of large landmasses like parks, forests, or new city developments.

Or, if you plan on buying land on which you will build a home, you will need to know the cost of an acre of land. For instance, if your lender approves you for a $300,000 mortgage, and the cost of an acre of land is $100,000, you can calculate how much land you can afford. Some homeowner associations or municipalities regulate the size of structures that can be built on a lot. For example, if you plan to build a 2,000 square foot home, you would need to buy at least a half-acre lot per the zoning laws.

Factors That Affect the Price of an Acre

Several factors can influence the cost of an acre of land, such as:

Location (Rural vs. Urban): The price of land is higher in urbanized areas than in rural areas. In the U.S., one acre of land in a rural area typically costs a fraction of what an acre of urban land costs.

Infrastructure: Land next to major highways or public buildings like shopping centers, hospitals, or schools tends to be expensive.

Business Activity: The cost of land is higher in areas where business activity is bustling. Depending on the access to various industries and real estate market conditions, even a single bedroom apartment can cost as much as an entire farm that sits in an undeveloped area.

Topography: Land that is easy to build on and relatively flat may come at a premium price. On the contrary, rocky, jagged, or areas prone to flooding may be cheaper.

Demand: Certain types of property can have a far greater demand than others.

Final Thoughts

Some people are curious about the cost of an acre of land and how you find an acre of land nearby. The best option is to talk with an experienced real estate agent who knows the local housing market. A well-connected agent is likely to know owners who are ready to sell their land at a good price.