The Value of a Suburban Forest Preserve: Estimates from Sales of Vacant Residential Building Lots

Paul Thorsnes


This paper reports estimates of the market value of proximity to forest preserves as capitalized into the sale prices of vacant building lots in residential subdivisions that on one side border a preserve. The results indicate that building lots that border the preserve sell at premia of about $5,800 to $8,400 (19% to 35% of lot price). These proximity premia appear to be highly localized. Estimates obtained from observations on subsequent sales of houses (rather than of vacant building lots) are larger and less precisely estimated, which suggests that omitted house characteristics may bias estimates of amenity value. (JEL Q23)