Tri-Cities 2021 vacant land deals up 40.8%

Don Fenley 

Tri-Cities vacant land transactions joined the rest of the real estate industry segments last year for its best-ever year. Sales and leases were up 40.8%. They have increased 214% since 2015. That was the kick-off year for the record-setting run that continued last year. It took three years of the increased existing home sales to stimulate public awareness of the region’s inventory issues. That and being discovered as a good place to live and invest in housing began stimulating land sales, which moved into the double-digit range in 2019.  

Sales for $30,000 or less had last year’s highest transaction count (668) but not the biggest growth rate. That went to sales in the $160,000 to $179,999 price range. There were 62 of those sales, and the annual growth rate was 121.4%.  

Top-end sales in the $500,000 plus range were up 107%. There were 31 of them compared to 15 in the previous year. 

The surge in vacant land sales seems to affirm the old investing chestnut, attributed to both Mark Twain and Will Rogers, to “buy land – they’re not making it anymore.”  At year’s end, Tri-Cities’ vacant land prices were up and listings were down 17%.  Listings were down 15.5% in 2020.  

Declining inventory and high demand mean higher prices are a safe bet for this year’s market. Last year’s average sales price of $88,963, up 20.1%. The year before, it was up 17.7% and there are still ample examples of buyers who would like a little more elbow room.  

Vacant land sales by county were: 

Greene – 466 

Washington Co. TN – 347 

Hawkins – 299 

Sullivan – 334 

Johnson – 213 

Carter – 190 

Washington VA – 103 

Unicoi – 88 

Scott – 57 

The folks who predict headwinds for the home building industry think that land and lot development will be right up there with labor, supply chain issues, and material cost this year.  

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at