Functional Land Markets and Reduced Informality


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

Credit: Alvaro Uribe.

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.

David C. Lincoln Fellowship Program on Land Valuation Methods

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

Innovative Pedagogy

Well-designed games, visualizations, and case studies can help planners and other public officials understand the process of land price determination and the effects of regulation on land markets. For over 30 years, the Lincoln Institute has developed a suite of educational games and interactive tools

Evaluating the Effects of Land Use Regulation on Informality

This multiyear project will analyze 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 into the urban policy debate.

Research on Charges for Building Rights in São Paulo

We will document and analyze the city’s uniquely successful model for land-based financing and identify 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, encouraging more intensive development of high-value land, and thus promoting affordability and efficient land use.

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. Participants have ranged from urban planning students to high-level public officials.

Land Value Return

Our policy brief on land value return lays out how the public sector can recover and reinvest land value increases that result from public investment and other government actions. Examples of land value return, also known as land value capture, include the property tax, inclusionary zoning, and charges for building rights.

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