Broker: "Iowa Farmland May Not Be as Steep as You Think"

Published on: 09:24AM Dec 21, 2011

Mike Walsten

Here's an interesting take on the current state of "high" farmland values in Iowa. It's from John Kirkpatrick who heads up the Clarion office for Murray Wise Associates, headquartered in Champaign, Illinois. He believes the media reports of $18,000 and $20,000-per-acre farmland auctions in northwest Iowa has some people thinking it may be too late to get a good deal on a farm.

"Right now, you can find productive Iowa farmland for far less than the prices that have been making the headlines, but investors are getting spooked by the very highest prices they're hearing," says Kirkpatrick. "The irony is that the attention given to the outliers on the top end of the market can cause investors to hesitate, reducing an important source of demand. And that could slow the growth in farmland prices in the near term. In fact, we're already seeing that happen as some investors grow hesitant," said Kirkpatrick,

The truth is that farmland values in the state averaged $6,708 per acre in an annual study released Dec. 14 by Iowa State University, he points out.  "To be sure, that's a record high when adjusted for inflation, but it's a far cry from the extreme prices that many people are focused on," said Kirkpatrick. "Right now, if you look beyond the hottest counties in the northwest part of the state, you can find quality land for less than $9,000."

Local farmers and investors continue to be strong buyers, both in auctions and in private treaty sales, according to Kirkpatrick. "While we are better known for our auctions, we also put a lot of emphasis on private treaty sales, especially for farmers who wish to sell to and investor, then lease the land back and continue to work it," he says.

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