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Florida land values continue fall

The steep decline in the state’s rural land values continued in 2009, but may level off later this year, according to the annual Florida Land Value Survey from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

After years of price growth spurred by a population boom between 2002 and 2006, some areas of Florida lost as much as half their value in 2008.

The survey, which does not evaluate urban land values, sought to determine average rural land values as of May 2009. Results show that farm land in north Florida dropped between 3 and 17 percent in value from 2008, while areas in south Florida dropped between 10 and 31 percent.

The exception to this drop in value is wooded farmland, which experienced a marginal increase of just over 1 percent, although it’s not clear what contributed to this rise.

The value of pasture lands rose 22 percent, but this was interpreted as a market correction to a disproportional devaluation in 2008, said Rodney Clouser, the UF professor of food and resource economics who coordinated the survey.

The value of some transitional land — rural areas outside of cities that may be converted to housing or other non-agricultural use — actually rose more than 4 percent in north Florida in 2009. However, transitional land in south Florida fell by nearly 46 percent.

These findings fall within the range predicted by the 2009 survey, Clouser said, which may bode well for next year. Survey responses from individuals involved in the Florida real estate market predict that, although land values will continue to drop in 2010, the decline will be much less severe than that of 2008 and 2009, likely around only 6 or 7 percent.

“The steepest decline is likely over, but it will most likely be a few more years before we see an overall increase in values,” Clouser said. “Even after the bigger economic picture improves, there will be a surplus of land in Florida that will need to be sold before the values begin to go up again.”

The report can be viewed at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FE833.

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