Many people have land in Iowa that they’re not using. Maybe it was inherited, or perhaps they’ve changed their retirement plans and no longer want to farm. Whatever the reason, they’re often struggling to sell their land. However, there are ways to get cash for land quickly and easily without waiting on banks or paying expensive fees.
The hot market for agricultural land has attracted investment groups and high-profile investors. One family that owns citrus farms in Florida, vineyards in California and a town in Arkansas has bought property in northwest Iowa. The state’s high prices also lured an investment group that includes Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Boston Celtics forward Blake Griffin and other professional athletes. That group wants to spend $5 million buying U.S. farmland, starting with an Iowa plot.
Real estate appraisers call this year’s farmland market We buy land in Iowa the hottest they’ve seen in 40 years. The average statewide price is $10,800 an acre, more than double the average in 2016. The increase is due to a combination of factors. Among them, higher commodity prices boost average cash rents and encourage more buyers than sellers. Localized analysis is key, as soil quality and yield shape land values.
High valuations bring a historically significant volume of land to the market. That volume, which is nearly 30% higher than the previous year, exceeds the average of the past 13 years. It’s a rare opportunity for farmers to cash in on their investments.
According to ISU’s annual survey of farmland ownership, the mix of buyers and sellers has shifted over time. Investors accounted for 27% of sales in 2022, compared to just 4% in 1982. The rise of investors is fueled by high commodity prices and low interest rates. The rise of interest rates is a concern for some potential buyers, but it’s not stopping them from purchasing land, ISU’s survey shows.
The rising prices of land are a boon for the economy and farmers. But the trend could be problematic for young or beginning farmers. The cost of financing and the higher cost of rents can make it difficult for them to compete with the bigger players. “It’s really hard for smaller, beginning and under-resourced farmers to bid and buy farmland,” ISU’s Zhang says.
Investors typically use a two-step process when buying land. The first is an economic analysis, where they calculate how much the land is worth based on its net income earning potential. The second step is a financial analysis, which looks at the land’s cash flow after factoring in owning costs and debt payments. Both processes can be complicated, but they are useful tools for analyzing land values.