Functional Land Markets and Reduced Informality

Promoting functional land markets through public policy and improving the distribution of benefits from public investment


An efficient and just allocation of society’s scarce and limited land resources is a central social goal with implications for land use, regulation, development, valuation, and taxation. The Lincoln Institute’s work in this area focuses on advancing land valuation methodologies to better understand pricing, measure the costs and benefits of public policies, and strengthen property tax institutions; evaluating the effects of land use regulations and identifying good practices; and introducing land value return mechanisms to increase the supply of serviced land and reduce informality.

Our Work

Evaluating the Effects of Land Use Regulation on Informality

This multiyear project analyzes the relationship between land use regulations and informality, with the goal of generating rigorous data that can help improve the design of regulatory instruments and introducing preventive approaches to the urban policy debate.

Research on Charges for Building Rights in São Paulo

We have documented and analyzed the city’s uniquely successful model for land-based financing, identifying practices that can be implemented throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.


Property Tax Appraisal Systems

Appraisal systems can contribute to functional land markets by improving land price transparency and encouraging more intensive development of high-value land, thus promoting affordability and efficient land use.

David C. Lincoln Fellowship Program on Land Valuation Methods

This program brought together expert researchers, public officials, and practitioners to identify and develop better techniques for determining the value of land.

Revista Land Lines

Innovative Pedagogy

For over 30 years, the Lincoln Institute has developed a suite of educational games and interactive tools to help planners and other public officials understand the process of land price determination and the effects of regulation on land markets. GIROS or GLUT (Gaining from Land Use Transactions), a game developed by Lincoln Institute Senior Fellow Martim Smolka, teaches players about land price determinations, densification, and other phenomena related to the notoriously complex and often misrepresented topic of urban land markets. GIROS has been played well over 150 times and inspired spinoffs in most of Latin America and in the Netherlands, Taiwan, Ghana, Kenya, the Philippines, and other countries. Past participants range from urban planning students to high-level public officials.

Learn More


Cover of Land Value Return Policy Brief
Land Value Return
Lourdes Germán and Allison Ehrich Bernstein

Resúmenes de políticas públicas

Recuperación de plusvalías

The Impact of Large Landowners on Land Markets
Edited by Raphael W. Bostic


Making Land Legible
Diego Alfonso Erba and Mario Andrés Piumetto

Enfoques en políticas de suelo

Tecnología e instrumentos

Preventing House Price Bubbles
James R. Follain and Seth H. Giertz

Enfoques en políticas de suelo

Our Experts

Daniel P. McMillen

Distinguished Scholar

Enrique Silva

Chief Program Officer

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts

George McCarthy headshot

George W. McCarthy

President and Chief Executive Officer

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Joan Youngman

Senior Fellow & Chair of Valuation and Taxation

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Zhi Liu

Senior Fellow and Director of China Program

Peking University-Lincoln Institute Center

Beijing, China

Ronald Rakow


Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Anacláudia Marinheiro Centeno Rossbach

Director, Latin America and the Caribbean

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts