According to data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC), single-family homes started in New England, where local zoning regulations often require very low densities, are built on some of the largest and most expensive lots in the nation.
Looking at single-family spec homes started in 2013, the median lot size in New England exceeds half an acre. This is 2.6 times larger than the national median lot of about one-fifth of an acre. The East South Central Division comes as a distant second with the median lot occupying about one-third of an acre.
The Pacific division where densities are high and developed land is scarce has the smallest lots, with half of the lots being under 0.14 acres. The neighboring Mountain and West South Central Divisions also report typical lots smaller than a national median, 0.17 and 0.16 acres, respectively.
The SOC also reports lot values for single-family spec homes that are sold with reported sales prices. Not surprisingly, New England lots that stand out for being the largest are also the most expensive in the nation. Half of all sold single-family homes started in New England in 2013 report lot values in excess of $100,000. In comparison, the national median lot value for single-family spec homes is $40,000.
The Middle Atlantic division reports the second most expensive lots, with half of the lots priced above $72,000. The Pacific division where lots are smallest but regulatory costs are high reports the third most expensive median lot value of $51,000, resulting in the most expensive per acre costs in the nation.
The East South Central Division that has the second largest lots simultaneously reports the lowest median value of $30,000 per lot, thus defining the most economical per acre lots in the nation.
For this analysis, the median lot size and value were chosen over averages since averages tend to be heavily influenced by extreme outliers. In addition, the Census Bureau often masks extreme lot sizes and values on the public use SOC dataset making it difficult to calculate averages precisely but medians remain unaffected by these procedures.
This analysis is limited to single-family speculatively-built homes. Custom homes built on owner’s land with either the owner or a builder acting as the general contractor tend to have larger lots.