Vacant land sales take a breather; still double pre-pandemic levels 

Don Fenley 

Vacant land sales are taking a respite from last year’s frantic pace. But that doesn’t mean it’s a down market. Demand has steadily grown during the past three years. Much of that is driven by an increase in residential and commercial interests. But investors are also paying attention for future growth. 

At the end of July, there were over 2,000 listings in the two local commercial databases. The most expensive was a Kingsport listing for $3.5 million. In all, there were 25 listings for $1 million or more in the Flex database. Most sales reported were in the $40,000 and below price range – up 23.5% from last year. 

The NETAR Commercial Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listings were down from last year, while sales and leases were up. At month’s end, there were 90 listings compared to 164 last year.  

Despite the amount of vacant land in the Tri-Cities region, much of it can’t be developed. That narrows the amount of developable land for current use and investment. According to a recent Motley Fool report, “Land buyers usually own land for personal use; for example, they want to develop the land in the future, preserve it, or are actively using the land for recreation, farming or hunting.”  

All of those uses apply to the local market, but there’s another reason to invest in land. The current market proves that holding vacant property for future appreciation can be lucrative. 

A growing number of residential relocation requests come with the stipulation that the buyers are looking for more than a residential plot. They want some elbow room.  

Although the July and year-to-date sales are down from last year, remember that 2021 was an all-time high for local land sales, and it was about the same for 2020. Compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, current year-to-date sales are up 104%. 

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