By Matt Reese
Planting season may give fast-talking auctioneers a chance to catch their breath during this time of staggering farmland sale prices, but it will only be a small chance.
“When you see strong prices like this, you have sellers interested in trying to capitalize on that, so we look for it to remain somewhat steady now throughout planting season,” said Devin Dye, with Dye Real Estate and Land Company in Lima. “Possession always becomes an issue. When do you give it and how soon do you have the auction to cover possession? So, throughout May and June we’ll see our auction slate slow down just a little bit. Then in July, August and September, things start to pick back up. We’re already starting to put proposals together and talk to sellers about having something midsummer and late summer. We’re already starting to have those conversations, so the opportunity for people to purchase farmland is still going to be there this this year.”
Dye expects farmland prices to hold strong through summer and fall.
“We’ve had several auctions since the beginning of the year spread out all over Northwest Ohio. In most of the cases, we’ve seen record prices,” Dye said. “We had some in Hardin County sell for $17,000 an acre. We had one in Putnam County — in the Continental area with a lot of Paulding clay that hasn’t ever seen much over $10,000 — and that farm fetched about $11,300 an acre. We had one in Auglaize County sell for $14,600. Sales have really remained strong in this environment we’ve seen here in the past few months.”
Several factors are keeping farmland values high.
“There’s a lot of interest in farmland because it is a really safe alternative investment vehicle for investors. If you’re a farmer, the obvious reason to own farmland is to grow and sustain your operation. If you’re an investor, we’ve had a lot of uncertainty in the investment marketplace. Whether it be the stock market or some bank failures as of late, that has created some scary situations for people that have cash and don’t know where to put it. They’re looking at farmland as an alternative investment. You’ll see a correlation between gold and farmland — when gold’s up, farmland is up. If you look at the price of gold recently it has increased too,” Dye said. “The difference between gold and farmland is you can go and buy 1,000 blocks of gold and you have that asset, but it doesn’t produce an annual dividend. If you purchase farmland, you get to ride the appreciation and depreciation roller coaster a little bit, but you also get an annual income from it, so really what we’ve seen in these auctions in the past six months is a lot of cash purchases. They’re not financing, so the interest rates haven’t played that much of an impact. These are just safe investments that investors get an annual return on as alternative to gold where you just get to ride the appreciation or depreciation roller coaster.”
Like gold, farmland may see fluctuation in values over time, but steady increases are expected.
“The decision to sell a farm is not just based upon what the market conditions are. When a farm sells, is it because it needs to sell. You may have a family situation where there’s multiple owners or the business is dissolving, something like that. When it comes to selling, it’s the circumstances around the farm that create the need to sell. When it comes to buying a farm, the advice that we’re giving people right now is if you look at the 30-year curve, it’s just astonishing to see what the value of a farm would have been in 1993 versus 2023. It is the same 30 years prior to that and 30 years prior to that. It just continues going up,” Dye said. “Prices right now are at record highs in many areas, but if you don’t buy this farm now and you wait for it to come for sale again, I can promise you it’s not going to be the same price it is today. When a farm sells, it’s very likely going to stay in that name for at least one generation, most likely two or three generations.”
Dye Real Estate & Land Co. understands the farm lifestyle because we live it every day. For more, visit dyerealestate.com.