Understanding the Land Curve Table and Land Values

Land – A portion of the earth’s surface, together with the earth below it, the space above it, and all things annexed thereto by nature or by man.

This document should help to explain the how’s and why’s of Land Valuation Methodology, in the simplest of terms.  In order for land to have value, it must have utility.  For the purposes of this document, utility is the ability of a parcel to support an improvement (a dwelling).  If only one house can be constructed on a 12,000 square foot parcel and only one house can be constructed on a 1 acre parcel due to the lack of frontage, then they have essentially the same utility – the construction of one house.  As you will see, it would not be equitable to assess each of these two parcels with the same base rate.  Although the 1 acre lot is nearly 4 times the area of the 12,000 sq. ft. lot, the additional land has very little utility (1 Acre = 43,560 sq. ft).  Without the use of the Land Curve an equitable value could not exist for the range of lot sizes in a typical community.

If a lot is to be considered “buildable” or has improvements already in place, the smaller the lot, the higher the square foot value.  This concept can be difficult to understand without the use of examples.  These examples are actual parcels as assessed for Fiscal Year 2006.

The following grid describes land located in the residential zone (R1) with a minimum 12,000 square foot building lot.  All parcels examined are legal lots, 3 non-conforming and 7 conforming.  The base rate for a minimum building lot under current zoning is $6.62 per foot, all calculations are adjusted from this point.




Square Feet

Sq. Foot


Total Value

with Curve



Total Value

W/O Curve










98 / 1205

Acre Ct








25 / 197

Allen St








36 / 1467

Auburn St








120 / 109

Berlin St








122 / 3221

Chace St








124 / 1754

Chace St








31 / 839

Cedar St








8 / 570

Chestnut St








108 / 1398

Dewey St








124 / 1334

Chace St









The actual Land Curve Table for Clinton comprises over 180 pages of data for the residential parcels alone.  This information is meant to present the concepts that are used in all Massachusetts communities.  There are numerous influence factors to consider when valuing land, these are some of them: neighborhoods or site indices, topography and shape, public or private road frontage, waterfront, views, water and sewer services, economic influences from external sources, right of ways, covenants, wetland, insufficient frontage, landlocked, etc.  The Board of Assessors considers all of these factors when valuing the land in the Town of Clinton.

Further reading on the complexities of land valuation can be found in The Homevoter Hypothesis by W. A. Fischel

Documents/Land Curve/Understanding the Land Curve.DOC - January 5, 2006