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Land Sale Insider: La Porte County, Indiana farm averages $7,600 per acre

Land auctions this week include Indiana, Nebraska, and Iowa.

As of Nov. 17, new owners have taken possession of the 186.49-acre farm that once belonged to Everett and Maxine Grieger, of Westville, Indiana.

The farm features two tracts: a 143.24-acre tract (140 acres tillable), and a 43.25-acre tract (40 acres tillable). Halderman and Associates had the sale, which was conducted online, according to Kelsey Sampson, farm manager and real estate agent for the company. 

Tract 1 is located just south of the west side of Westville. It has 140 acres tillable, featuring mostly Elston loam. The farm is mostly level, and soils are predominantly Class 2.

Tract 2, just west of Westville, has mostly Palms muck soil and is Class 3. 

The tracts sold as one unit for $1.417 million, or $7,598.26 per acre. An area farmer bought the property, which is not tethered to a lease for 2021.

Sampson says online auctions are a different beast than live auctions. With Halderman’s platform, bids are made anonymously. The only way farmers know who they bid against is if they are in contact with fellow bidders. Depending on a prospective buyer’s bid preferences, that can be unnerving. “Some people like the privacy, others like the anonymity,” she says.

Overall, the Grieger land is high-quality farmland. The larger tract is more forgiving soil, and it fetched a higher price than the smaller piece. However, the combined bids into one unit netted more money than if they’d sold separately, Sampson adds.

According to Purdue University, cash rent for average land in northern Indiana averages $219 per acre in 2020, up 2.3% from 2019.

Sampson says average to excellent quality land is keeping its value, and even appreciating some. Problem farms, due to size, quality, or inefficiencies, are slipping in value. However, with more favorable cash grain prices, land values are steadily rising. 

“We’ve had a big supply buildup with COVID, too,” she continues. “This is the longest stretch we’ve ever had without auctions. We’re behind in number of sales for a normal year. We still haven’t caught back up.”  

Other Land Sales

  • Iowa, Lee County: Two tracts totaling 192.25 acres, located south of Burlington, sold Nov. 17. Tract 1, 119 acres, has Koszta and Chequest soils, with a Corn Suitability Rating 2 of 81.5. There are 113.08 acres tillable. It sold for $1.297 million ($10,900 per acre). Tract 2, 77 acres, has 73.96 acres tillable with similar soils. The CSR 2 is 75.6. It sold for $823,900 ($10,700 per acre). Sullivan Auctioneers had the sale. 
  • Nebraska, Adams County: An 80-acre tract of pivot-irrigated land south of Hastings sold November 17. The tract has 74.2 acres of tillable land, and came with a nine-tower center pivot, well, and pump. It sold for $664,000 ($8,300 per acre), which “exceeded expectations,” says Travis Augustin, auctioneer with Ruhter Auction and Realty. “This is an area where farms don’t come up for sale very often. And, with commodity prices better and a positive outlook for 2021, farmer optimism is definitely higher than it’s been in a few years,” Augustin says. 
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