Conservation Subdivisions Demand a Premium

According to a recent study conducted by Colorado State University, prospective buyers are willing to pay more for those homes currently situated near open, conservation subdivisions. “That could mean wildlife habitats, agricultural lands, important cultural sites and open space for scenic vistas,” says Sarah Reed, co-author of the study and associate conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“This may provide an extra incentive for developers, real estate professionals and lending institutions to market this type of development.”

Data for the study was comprised of 2,222 homes that were sold in various Colorado counties between 1998 and 2011. The homes included in the survey were situated on land in which 64 percent of the area was undeveloped. By comparison, rural subdivisions typically set aside approximately 4.9 percent of undeveloped land to facilitate the needs of residents.

According to the study, homes in underdeveloped, rural areas sold for 29 percent more than homes located in conventional residential neighborhoods. “For a homeowner, this means that the value of their home will be greater just by being in a development with open space,” Professor Reed acknowledges.

Those houses situated on larger, underdeveloped lands witnessed a significant increase in market pricing. On average, the surrounding land raised the price by 38 cents per square foot or $16,662 per acre. Houses in traditional neighborhoods, with little undeveloped land, did not experience the same increase. Lot sizes only translated to 9 cents per square foot and $4,062 per acre.

According to a subsequently study, published in the journal Conservation Biology, approximately 310,000 acres have been developed in the United States as conservation subdivisions. Land in these regions remains protected at a rate of 30 to 70 percent. Reports suggest that even more lands may qualify, but developers have yet to seek official approval of undertaking such a project.

Despite rising trends in conservation subdivisions, price perks remain beneficial. Homes in undeveloped regions sell for 25 percent more than those in conventional subdivisions, the Colorado State researchers found.