The price of home sites -- land only -- has increased 62.5 percent since 1985. That rate of increase is much greater than increases in the Consumer Price Index during the same period.
This was revealed in a recently completed survey and study by the Urban Land Institute. The study tracked residential lot prices in 30 major metropolitan areas nationwide.
Median home-site prices ranged from a high of $230,000 in the San Jose, Calif., area to a low of$10,150 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The overall median price was about $30,000.
These figures, however, can be deceiving. In some "hot" real estate markets, the prices and value appreciation rates for home sites are much more dramatic.
A classic example is Aspen, Colo. There, the average price of single-family home sites so far this year is $791,968, according to the Aspen Multiple Listing Service.
The newest residential site subdivision in the Aspen area -- Eagle Pines -- now offers wooded home sites for prices ranging from $1.2 million to $1.8 million.
Even with those seemingly high prices, initial response from prospective buyers has been stronger than anticipated, according to Bob Ritchie, one of the owners and developers of the new home-site development.
The sites range in size from 5.3 to 12.6 acres. They are located in a heavily wooded area near the top of Buttermilk Mountain, overlooking Aspen, Roaring Fork Valley and surrounding mountains -- a 10-minute drive from downtown Aspen.