How Much Is Real Estate Worth In The United States?

American glah made out of money

Do you know how much the U.S. is worth in terms of real estate?

According to the Wall St. Journal, American real estate is worth just under $23 trillion dollars. At least in terms of all its land value added together. This data is a testament to the advent of technology, and how it can help investors stay in the know. It also puts a lot of other numbers into perspective. So how does this figure break down? How does U.S. land value compare to other big data? More importantly, what other factors do real estate investors need to keep in mind when using stats like this?

The $23 Trillion New World

According to a government economist, U.S. land across the 48 contiguous states and DC is worth $22.98 trillion.

Quick land value facts:

  • Total land mass is 1.98 billion acres
  • California is worth the most ($3.9 trillion)
  • Vermont is worth the least ($44 billion)
  • New Jersey has the highest per acre value (just under $200k)
  • Wyoming has the least expensive land per acre (just over $1,500)
  • Connecticut land is worth an average of at least $100k per acre
  • The US government owns an estimated 24% of all land
  • Less than 6% of all land has been developed

U.S. Land Value Put in Perspective

  • The USA has the 2nd to 4th largest amount of land mass in the world
  • Our land value is worth less than the value of all U.S. 401k accounts
  • As of Q1 2015, there were still an estimated $200B in nonperforming mortgage loans and REOs at U.S. banking institutions (DistressedPro)
  • The world’s largest money manager, BlackRock, had $4.59 trillion in assets under management as of mid-2014

Other Real Estate Related Factors to Consider

There’s more to current average land values to take into consideration when creating real estate business plans, and making property investments. This includes:

  • Local property taxes
  • Zoning and building codes and limitations
  • State taxes
  • Operating costs
  • Percentage of land value to improvement value
  • Forecasts of future value, and speed of appreciation
  • How much land in the state can be purchased

These factors can vary widely from state to state, and even down to a very local level. For example; NJ and NY have very high property taxes too. Florida has no state income taxes. Some areas and lots may have minimum building requirements. There can be limits on the number of units on a property per acre, and minimum square footage of each unit. Rural land may be cheap. In some cases, approval for residential development may not be obtained – at least for years, and with high costs of obtaining re-zoning. Urban infill lots may cost a lot more, but the spreads on square footage can be a lot higher. In Nevada, one estimate claims the federal government owns 90% of the land. But the federal government owns no land in CT, according to the Wall St. Journal report. In Oahu, Hawaii, R.J. Martin of Coldwell Banker estimates only about 25% of the land is available for private purchase.

What it Means for Real Estate Investing

Obviously, U.S. property is worth a lot more than $23 trillion when you factor in improvements, income and production potential. Some real estate investors may find that they can unlock huge sums very easily – just by acquiring cheap land and rezoning it. Others will find urban properties much easier and more profitable due to their own personal circumstances. It’s really all about finding the right fit for your personal and financial goals.

While a lot of the real estate activity continues to center around old hubs like NYC, Boston, and San Francisco, the quest for affordability could alter some dynamics in the near future. New business hubs, remote working, and the gap between living costs and wages may spur more suburban growth. If the EPA is successful in getting rappers and churches to influence the masses to a greener and more environmentally friendly lifestyle we could see quite different growth trends in the near future. Natural disasters, rising sea levels, and ongoing riots could have an influence on new building too. So will consistent increases in foreign real estate investment in America.

Ultimately, the better informed real estate professionals and regular investors are with data and real estate education, the more successful they will be in the long term. Know your digits and trends; and formulate a plan that works best for you.