One of the more common questions real estate agents receive from clients is how big is an acre of land. You will encounter various forms of measurement when buying a property.
When it comes to houses the descriptions of size entail how many square feet the property contains. Land on the other hand is usually described as how many acres.
When there is less than one acre the land size will be given in a fractional measurement. For example, a half-acre would be .5 acres and three-quarters of an acre would be .75.
It is not uncommon for potential first-time buyers to ask how many square feet in an acre. If you have never purchased a home before it would not be an unusual question.
While one of the first things a real estate agent learns while studying to become an agent is land size, rarely does a layman know the answer.
This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about acreage, land size, and how big is an acre. Let’s dive in.
How big is an acre of land?
An acre of land is equal to 43,560 square feet. Many people will compare the size of an acre to an American football field so you can better understand the size visually. Not including the end zones, a football field is equal to 48,000 square feet, so it is a little bit bigger than an acre.
Where do acre measurements come from?
The word “acre” comes from the Old English aecer, which evolved into the Middle English Aker and eventually the modern acre.
Language experts believe that the root word for “field” comes from the Latin word ager, which means field.
One acre was the basic unit of land measurement back in the middle ages in early England. This meant that a farmer could plow and work with two oxen on one acre of land in one day.
As you can see, the measurements of an acre varied dramatically a thousand years ago. A farmer who is in good health and has rested their oxen can plow more land in a day than a farmer who is tired. The soil’s composition can affect how quickly it is plowed, making the process slower in some areas than others.
The end result was what was considered an acre of land could be different in one place than another.
In order to standardize the use of the acre, Edward I of England defined an acre as 4 rods wide by 40 rods long, with one rod measuring 16.5 feet.
Using this formula of math, you can calculate an acre as follows:
16.5 feet x 4 rods x 40 rods x 16.5 feet = 66 feet x 660 feet = 43,560 feet
The Weights and Measures Acts were enacted in England to standardize the length of an acre. When English settlers started building in America, they used the acre as a unit of measurement.
An acre is still a common unit of land measurement in many parts of the world. It is used across about two dozen countries and territories. The acre is used almost exclusively when describing the size of a parcel of land.
Some countries measure land size differently
The metric system is still the preferred use of measurement in other countries. The measurement of land is no different. It is not uncommon for land to be measured in square meters or square kilometers.
In some places, the land will also be measured in hectares. One hectare is equal to 10,000 square meters.
How much does an acre of land cost?
The cost to purchase an acre of land can vary tremendously across the country. Land values are directly tied to the location. You can expect to pay significant premiums for land when buying close to a metropolitan center. On the other hand, land can be very cheap when bought in a desolate area.
It makes perfect sense as the supply and demand will be radically different from one place to another. Other factors that influence the value of land include the size, topography, usability, and available utilities.
When getting a land loan, the bank will undoubtedly want to know the acreage of the property.
Buying land can be far more complicated than purchasing a home. Extensive research should be conducted and many questions asked.
It is very easy to make mistakes when buying land. It can be beneficial to work with a real estate agent who has experience with buying and selling land.
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 35 years. Bill is the owner and founder of Maximum Real Estate Exposure. For the past decade, he has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England.