Agriculture Data: Uncertainty In Ag Industry Influencing Land Values

REGIONAL LAND VALUE REPORTS

Iowa

Iowa saw less ag land being sold last year than normal, which continues the trend down from the high number of transactions experienced several years ago.

“During 2017, Farmers National Company agents sold 20 percent of the ag land in Iowa that was handled through a brokerage firm. This amazing fact is a testament to each of our agent’s dedication in meeting the seller’s needs and understanding the local land market. Farmers National Company’s comprehensive marketing efforts bring full exposure to all potential buyers, which brought about all those successful sales,” said Sam Kain, area sales manager for Iowa.

 

According to Kain, prices for good quality land are steady to trending a bit higher, while lower quality properties are five percent lower when compared to the past six months. Auctions continue to be the predominate means to sell farmland in Iowa with estates being the majority of the sellers.

Ag lenders remain cautious in their outlook as the lower farm incomes of the past few years increasingly put pressure on the financial condition of borrowers. Even though Kain said he has only seen a few forced sales of land, the expectation is that there may be additional financially encouraged sales coming.

 

“Farmers National Company has seen another increase in its Iowa sales so far in 2018,” Kain said. “Our agents have marketed and sold 34 percent more farms and 63 percent more acres to date than last year.”

Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Arkansas

The trend of less land on the market continues in the eastern Corn Belt states.

“The market is basically stable,” said Roger Hayworth, area sales manager for the region. “Except for Michigan where Farmers National Company is in the process of selling 14,000 acres for one owner; overall, there is less land on the market than average.”

Prices for good quality tillable acres are steady in most areas. Lower quality land is steady to slightly lower as there is less demand for these farms. Hayworth is seeing a slight switch from public auctions as the preferred method for selling a farm to having more private treaty listings as buyers become more cautious in their land purchases.

“Our auctions have been successful over the past six months, which is a testament to our agents’ knowledge of the local land market. They worked closely with the sellers to create the right market for the land and to get it sold at a good price,” Hayworth said.

Those selling land at this time are predominantly trusts and beneficiaries. Very few sales from farm operator financial stress have been seen so far. Farmers and local investors buy most all the good quality cropland that comes up for sale. Larger investors are in the market, but they are measured in their land purchases.

“We believe land buyers are being more cautious right now in making large purchases, but in Michigan, Farmers National Company has experienced strong interest in the farms that we have sold to date. Our agents in Michigan report good interest in the cropland that hasn’t been on the market for a while,” Hayworth said.

North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota

Land prices in the Dakotas and Minnesota are surprisingly good given the low commodity prices.

“Prices for good quality cropland are as good as a couple of years ago,” said Brian Mohr, area sales manager for the region. “The somewhat slower overall land market in our region is mainly due to fewer farms and ranches for sale, especially in western South Dakota.”

Prices for average to lower quality land are fairly stable to down slightly compared to a year ago, while buying interest for good quality farms helps bring better prices than anticipated. The primary sellers of ag land right now are family trusts and inheritors of the property. Local farmers are the predominant buyers of most of the cropland that comes up for sale.

Knowing the land market in any given area is extremely important whether buying or selling.

“Our agents are working closely with sellers so that they know the true value of their farm or ranch in the marketplace, and they understand the best way to sell the land based on local experiences. Farmers National Company has multiple methods for selling land and our agents look at the market and the needs of the seller to determine how to sell the property to get the best price,” Mohr said.

Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

Land values across the Southern Plains range from stable to down 10 percent compared to last year with variances occurring in quality and location.

“High quality land is selling well at auction in cropland areas,” said Paul Schadegg, area sales manager for the region. “Farmers who are in good financial condition are by far the main buyers of high quality land that comes up for sale. Investors are also in the market to buy when the right property is available.”

Currently, Schadegg is seeing a mix of sellers in the market with beneficiaries being the most prevalent.

“A few investors are deciding that it is a good time to sell and we are seeing a small number of land sales brought on by an operator’s financial stress. We believe there will be additional stress sales later in the year,” he said.

Knowing the land market in any given area is extremely important whether buying or selling.

“Our agents are working closely with sellers so they know the true value of their farm or ranch in the marketplace and they understand the best way to sell the land based on local experiences. Farmers National Company has multiple methods for selling land and our agents look at the market and the needs of the seller to determine how to sell the property to get the best price,” Schadegg said.

Washington

Interest in agricultural land in eastern Washington continues to be strong.

“Our sales volume is up 15 percent compared to six months ago. We are seeing good buying interest as more investors are searching the market for properties,” said Flo Sayre, broker for Farmers National Company in Pasco, Washington.

Prices for land in the area are mostly steady from a year ago and vary based on water availability and use.

“Good fruit potential land can sell for up to $16,000 per acre while dry rangeland can sell as low as $350 per acre,” Sayre said.

Current sellers of land in the area are investors with small tracts, the customary estate and beneficiaries, and a few producers wanting to alleviate cash flow stress. Sayre has not seen any financially forced sales yet, but expects to see some come the end of the year. Rising interest rates will challenge land prices in the upcoming future.

Based on many years of experience in the agriculture of eastern Washington, Sayre noted that “due to the wide range of crops grown in the region and the critical importance of water, and the diversity of buyers and sellers, our agents work very hard to provide the best information possible to buyers and sellers of land so that they can make good decisions.”