Answering A Reader’s Questions About Lot Sizes In Dickinson, North Dakota

A reader left a comment in response to my previous blog post titled “Causes And Effects Of Excessive Land Greed In Dickinson, North Dakota”, asking if this has anything to do with the shortage of neighborhoods in Dickinson with acre sized lots.  Yes, excessive land greed is one of the main reasons, but not the only reason, that there is a shortage of houses on one to five acre lots.

The reader who posted the comment has been looking for a home on one to forty acres for some time, but can’t find one, because there are not that many to choose from.  One of my main goals in making money, was to never have to live right next to someone else, ever again.  I didn’t want to have to listen to anyone else’s arguments, problems, stupidity, bad behavior, television, stereo, or children.  I didn’t want to have to care about what their house looked like, what their yard looked like, what they had in their yard, what they did in their yard, how many cars, trucks, trailers, boats, or motorcycles they had.  And I didn’t want anyone to be able to complain about what I did on my property.

In my opinion, you don’t start to get away from hearing your neighbors until the lot sizes get to be at least one acre.  Once the lot sizes get to be over two acres, people seem to observe each other’s right to park boats, motor homes, RVs, and contractor trailers on their own property.  Most red-necks, blue collar workers, and trades people would like to own a home on two or more acres, for privacy, peace and quiet, and to park all of their belongings.

With at least five thousand well paid blue collar workers and trades people moving to Dickinson from out of state during the Oil Boom from 2007 to 2014, there was a desire for manufactured homes or conventional homes on one acre lots, but there were very few of these homes, and their purchase price was probably double what people expected.  Most of the out of state workers and companies would have liked to have made payments on a home that they would own, rather than pay $2,000 to $3,000 per month for rent on an apartment that they would never own.

As I wrote in my previous blog post titled “Causes And Effects Of Excessive Land Greed In Dickinson, North Dakota”, during the Oil Boom land owners in and around Dickinson became so greedy that they believed their land was too valuable to sell at all, or they were unwilling to sell their land for less than $100,000 per acre.  What I did not write in my previous blog post, and what I need to emphasize now, is that during the Oil Boom the land owners were not willing to sell off just a few acres at $100,000 per acre, you had to buy the whole 30 acre to 120 acre parcel!

I met land owners in Dickinson that absolutely would not sell off an acre, or two, or three, or five, because they were suspicious that the buyer would put some “Thing” on their lots, that would adversely affect the remainder of the property.  One of the worst “Things” would be a home, because they thought that then a developer would not want the remainder of the land for commercial or industrial use.  Or, that an industrial building on five acres would make the remaining lots unsuitable for residential.  This what they told me.  They required any buyer to purchase the entire 30 acre to 120 acre parcel.

This is why developers, builders, and individuals did not create neighborhoods with homes on one to five acre lots during the Oil Boom in Dickinson.  Developers could not see spending $8 million just to get the land, their development costs, and then having to wait until just about every one acre lot sold for $150,000 to $175,000 over three to four years to get their money back.  It would have been easier for builders or individuals to buy one acre of land and build a home or install a manufactured home, but the land owners would not sell off one acre of land at a time, only the entire 30 acre to 120 acre parcel.

I also need to answer the question, why weren’t there more neighborhoods with homes on one to five acres already existing in Dickinson prior to the Oil Boom?  The answer is, if you were an individual in Dickinson with enough money to buy a home on five acres back in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, you ended up buying a home with 20, 30, 40, 80 acres because that is what was available.  There used to be not that many people in and around Dickinson, and land was very cheap, there was so much of it.

If you wanted to live in town, you lived in town.  If you didn’t want to live in town, then you lived outside of town on a farm.  And if you didn’t want to live in town, and you wanted to live on five acres, they didn’t have that, you lived outside of town on 40 acres.

Land was so inexpensive and plentiful in North Dakota, it was like buying grapes or peanuts, it didn’t come in ones or fives, it came in a bunch or a whole bag.

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