Columns Mann Report

Why Land Is The Perfect Safe Haven For Capital During A Crisis

It’s no secret that investors here in the United States and around the world are very nervous and uncertain about where to put their money amid the current COVID-19 crisis. The volatility of the markets — from equities to bonds to commodities — over the past few weeks tells a very grim story about investors’ portfolios.

As I write this in early April, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, for example, has shed roughly 30% of its value since the beginning of the year. This is not good if wealth preservation is a priority. So for investors searching for peace of mind, where should they put their money?

One investment class that often flies under the radar but offers strong long-term growth and stability, even in times of uncertainty, is undeveloped land.

Whether it’s for farm, ranch, plantation, timber, recreation or commercial development, land is one of the oldest and most reliable investment classes in existence. But when people typically think of real estate investments, they associate them with rental properties, commercial properties and foreclosures. They often don’t think of raw land as an investment and end up missing out on many significant benefits.

Low Correlation to Other Investments
Land is a safe bet because its returns have little correlation to stocks, bonds, precious metals or commodities. For example, during the financial meltdown of 2008, land didn’t fall in a single quarter.

Limited Resource
Land is a limited resource that is relatively inexpensive to own and requires little maintenance. A growing population is encroaching on land acreage, and the result is that it consistently outperforms other asset classes over time. It’s supply and demand.

There Is Limited Competition
There is little competition in the land market because most real estate investors are focused on other types of investments such as rental and commercial properties.

Land Is a Long-Term Play
There is a large profit to be made in land ownership, but it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. As a long-term, tangible asset, raw land doesn’t wear out or depreciate. It produces enormous wealth over generations, both through appreciation and rents. This outpaces stocks, gold and many other assets.

Here are a few examples of ways to make a profit through land ownership:

  • Buy and hold: Purchase land at a good price, hold and sell after appreciation
  • Establish a farming lease: Farmland has historically produced larger returns than stocks, bonds and mutual funds over the long run. A landowner can normally earn enough from agricultural leases to cover the taxes and insurance and still make a small profit. However, keep in mind that farmland is normally more expensive and will require more capital to get started.
  • Establish a hunting lease: Hunting lessees normally take excellent care of the property they are leasing. They also do a great job of patrolling the property and keeping away poachers. As in a farm lease, landowners normally earn enough from a hunting lease to pay the taxes and insurance.
  • Offer owner financing: Land loans can be difficult to secure from traditional banks at times. Offering a buyer owner financing is a way to sell the land and earn interest. Most owner financing deals offer higher interest rates than traditional banks.

Raw land ownership can certainly be a great investment for someone looking to diversify their portfolio.

Jason Burbage
National Land Realty
7001 Pelham Road, Suite M
Greenville, SC 29615