Land Price Average Hits New High: SW Wisconsin Land Market Update

I have been tracking land sale prices in southwestern Wisconsin for nearly five years; and in that time the average price per acre failed to rise above $3,900…until now. The second quarter of this year saw an area average of $3,947 per acre.

While rising prices are noteworthy, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that 3,162 acres changed hands during the second quarter. The last time that much land sold in the region during a quarter was two years ago. Also, the number of transactions (37) is up 23% over first quarter of this year and up 54% over the same time period a year ago. While it’s too soon to call this a boom market, the numbers seem to indicate the current tight market is heading in that direction.

2nd Quarter 2015 Land Prices Graph

Iowa and Lafayette Counties are leading the price gain due to their second quarter sales consisting of a high percentage of tillable land. Average sale prices in Grant, Sauk, Richland, and Vernon Counties have been holding steady for the past 12 months. Crawford County continues to struggle to make any price gains; but the number of acres sold there rose dramatically during the second quarter of this year.

Average Price-per-acre by County

Avg $/acre 2014 2014 2015 2015
3rd Quarter 4th Quarter 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter
Grant $3,232 $3,041 $3,228 $3,387
Iowa $2,895 $3,592 $4,778 $5,649
Lafayette $2,915 $5,820 $4,726 $6,364
Sauk $3,805 $3,190 $3,589 $4,098
Richland $2,374 $2,558 $2,591 $2,415
Crawford $2,927 $2,842 $2,684 $2,592
Vernon $2,746 $3,154 $2,914 $3,127


If you would like a more detailed market report (free), visit www.WisconsinLandValues.com for instructions on how to order.

Buyers and sellers need to be aware that average sale prices are only a general guideline. An on-site property evaluation by an experienced land agent is needed to give you an accurate picture of what a property is worth in the current market. To learn more about the rural land market in Southwest Wisconsin, begin your search here: www.Southwest-Wisconsin-Real-Estate.com

*SW Wisconsin includes Grant County, Lafayette County, Iowa County, Sauk County, Richland County, Crawford County, & Vernon County. All data was taken from the SCWMLS & WiREx. Because this article was intended to review the rural land market, properties smaller than 20 acres, residential, and commercial land sales were not included. Acreage breakdown may vary due to land remnants and other factors.

Strong Land Demand at Current Prices: SW Wisconsin Land Market Update

Winter weather always affects land buyer activity in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin and less snow and milder temperatures definitely made it easier for buyers to tour parcels of interest during the first quarter of this year. In Southwest Wisconsin, buyers were quite active with 30 transactions completed involving 2,272 acres. The average price per acre increased 1.3% over 4th quarter but so did the number of tillable acres making the market appear flat at an average price per acre of $3,502.

SW WI Land Price Trends 1st qtr 2015 graph

When these numbers are added to the activity I see in my own business (such as a good number of buyer inquiries, offers written, etc.), this market could be described as a tight market. The spread between sale price and list price has narrowed considerably, but buyers are generally not stepping up to bid on overpriced properties. When this happens in conjunction with low inventory (which we also have right now), the market is poised for rising prices going forward. Yet, this tight market could hold for a while as I sense cautiousness among buyers. The recession is still fresh in everyone’s memory so it remains to be seen how soon prices will turn upward again.

Average Price-per-acre by County

Avg $/acre

2014
2nd Quarter

2014
3rd Quarter

2014
4th Quarter

2015
1st Quarter

Grant $4,334 $3,232 $3,041 $3,228
Iowa $3,669 $2,895 $3,592 $4,778
Lafayette $2,915 $2,915 $5,820 $4,726
Sauk $3,513 $3,805 $3,190 $3,589
Richland $2,032 $2,374 $2,558 $2,591
Crawford $2,721 $2,927 $2,842 $2,684
Vernon $4,636 $2,746 $3,154 $2,914


If you would like a more detailed free land market report, visit www.WisconsinLandValues.com for instructions on how to order.

Buyers and sellers need to be aware that average sale prices are only a general guideline. An on-site property evaluation by an experienced land agent is needed to give you an accurate picture of what a property is worth in the current market. To learn more about the rural land market in Southwest Wisconsin, begin your search here: Southwest-Wisconsin-Real-Estate.com

*SW Wisconsin includes Grant County, Lafayette County, Iowa County, Sauk County, Richland County, Crawford County, & Vernon County. All data was taken from the SCWMLS & WiREx. Because this article was intended to review the rural land market; properties smaller than 20 acres, residential, and commercial land sales were not included.

 

The Driftless Area in Southwest Wisconsin

When people are first introduced to Southwest Wisconsin, they are often amazed by the rolling wooded hills and peaceful valleys that make the area so unique. Most Americans are unaware of this rugged oasis tucked into the mostly level Midwest. If a person spends any time at all in the region, they soon hear the term ‘Driftless Area’ and it will be time for me to put on my geologist hat.

Green Hills and Valley

The Driftless Area (a.k.a. the Driftless Zone or the Paleozoic Plateau) is a region in the upper Midwest that escaped glaciation leaving us with peculiar terrain. Geologists have determined that long ago continental ice sheets wrapped around the area and it was, at least for a time, an island in a sea of ice. Today it can be observed that certain types of silt, clay, sand, gravel, and boulders known as glacial drift are conspicuously absent in this area hence the term ‘driftless’. Not only is it missing glacial drift, but the landscape remains rugged and deeply carved by rivers and streams.

The Driftless Area lies primarily in southwestern Wisconsin, but also includes areas of southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and extreme northwestern Illinois. It covers approximately 16,203 square miles. The 7 county area in SW Wisconsin that I serve as a real estate broker lies within this special region.

Driftless Area Overview Map

Bluffs and deep river valleys intermingle with farm fields and shaded glens to create the breathtaking landscape in which I am privileged to live and work. As a rural property REALTOR I travel much of southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless Area observing the rich tapestry of this place. I’ve been able to capture many beautiful scenes with my camera over the years and have put a few together to create a short video.



Please excuse the amateur videography, but it’s all mine shot on location as I work. I wish everyone could be so fortunate to work in a place like this. Better yet, give me a ring and I’ll show it to you in person and help you find a little piece of it to call your own.

If you’re a geology fan you might enjoy this award-winning documentary Mysteries of the Driftless – The Documentary which covers many of the scientifically unique aspects of the Driftless Area.

800’ Cave For Sale

In real estate you run into all kinds of surprises; some of them strange, some of them pleasant. My favorite kind of surprise is when something unique pops up. Like how many real estate agents can say they have a cave for sale?

This rural property encompasses almost 155 acres of which a gorgeous log home crowns the ridge top amidst beautiful long range views. That in itself makes it a desirable country estate; but just for fun the bonus of a pretty large cave comes with the package. Spelunking anyone?

The Mouth of the Cave

At the base of this rather ordinary oak tree lies the entrance. It’s not astounding by any means but large enough for people to enter. And raccoons. Or skunks. Or bears. Definitely bats! Caves tend to kick my imagination into overdrive.

According to Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine there are 2 types of caves in Wisconsin; limestone and sandstone. I don’t know which type this cave is but others before me have explored and mapped it.

Limestone or Sandstone Cave

2 large bears were killed here shortly before it was first mapped in 1909. A later mapping showed it to be over 800 feet long with one room approximately 35 feet high. Recent DNR documentation shows 3 species of bats hibernate here.

Have I piqued your interest to start a few subterranean adventures?

For first time cavers, consider visiting these public caves in SW Wisconsin. Eagle Cave near Blue River is considered the state’s largest onyx cave. Near Wauzeka the Kickapoo Indian Caverns were once a Native American shelter and boast an underground river and onyx deposits (shown by appointment only). Perhaps the best known in our area is the Cave of the Mounds which is also a National Natural Landmark. Its stunning crystal formations are truly a natural treasure.

When you are ready to branch out from these guided tours; keep in mind the cardinal rule of wild caving: never explore a cave alone. The minimum size of a caving group as recommended by the Wisconsin Speleological Society is four.

One final reminder: the cave featured in this article is entirely on private property. Please respect the owner’s property rights and don’t trespass to explore.

Rural Land Market Steady at Close of 2014: SW Wisconsin Land Market Update

Looking back at the course of the SW Wisconsin rural land market throughout 2014 we see some ups and downs; but the big picture shows a land market that appears to be holding its own and making small gains.

4th Qtr 2014 SW Wisconsin Land Market Graph
2013 vs. 2014
A review of the year as a whole creates a picture of slow but steady growth in spite of volatility in some sectors. If you recall, in 2013 farmland was in great demand leading to 44% of all acres sold being tillable farmland. In 2014 grain prices dropped and so did the demand for farmland leading to a more normal average of 30% of acres sold being farmland. This played into the fact that 13% fewer total acres were sold in 2014 compared to the previous year and 12% fewer transactions were completed. However, the average price per acre for the entire year of 2014 grew 4.6% compared to 2013.

SW Wisconsin Rural Land Sales 2014 in Review

1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
# of transactions 23 24 38 32
# of acres sold 1537 2367 2225 2610
% of acres tillable 44% 31% 19% 30%
average $/acre $3,195 $3,403 $2,985 $3,457


4th Quarter Price Rebound
During the 3rd quarter of 2014 the number of transactions jumped 58% over 2nd quarter while the average price per acre dropped mainly due to less farmland exchanging hands. 4th quarter numbers normalized somewhat with a few less transactions but more acres being sold of which 30% was farmland. Also, the average price per acre rebounded to $3,457.

Before everyone gets overly excited by this new high price, I need to point out that the average price per acre for 4th quarter is bolstered by a single large farmland parcel sold in Lafayette County for $5,820/acre. While this sale is significant and cannot be discounted in the rural land market, it’s wise to remember that one sale does not indicate a trend. A more accurate picture of SW Wisconsin rural land prices might be gained by calculating an average without this noteworthy transaction. This creates an average price per acre of $3,042 which is still above the 3rd quarter average price by 2%. Either way you look at it, the market trend points upward.

Buyers and sellers need to be aware that average sale prices are only a general guideline. An on-site property evaluation by an experienced land agent is needed to give you an accurate picture of what a property is worth in the current market. To learn more about the rural land market in Southwest Wisconsin, begin your search here: Southwest-Wisconsin-Real-Estate.com

*SW Wisconsin includes Grant County, Lafayette County, Iowa County, Sauk County, Richland County, Crawford County, & Vernon County. All data was taken from the SCWMLS & WiREx. Because this article was intended to review the rural land market, properties smaller than 20 acres, residential, and commercial land sales were not included. Acreage breakdown may vary due to land remnants and other factors.

Buyers: Don’t Go It Alone

This message is for buyers looking for the perfect piece of property: Get a buyer’s agent to assist you!

I was reminded again today of how important that is.

Past clients invited me to view their new home that they just built on an acreage. The home is beautiful and their rural property is ideal for it. My clients commented again today about how close they had come to missing their perfect place.

Just about a year ago they closed on the property that was the goal of an 18 month search. As their buyer’s agent, I had shown them dozens of properties but nothing was quite what they were looking for. Then I saw a property come on the market that I knew was the right one. I sent the info to them with no response. A week or so later I sent it again and said that I thought they should see it. No response. Finally, I picked up the phone and asked them why they weren’t interested in it. They said that they didn’t like some of the features but having worked with them for so long, I really thought that they would like it. I went out on a limb and told them to drive out and look at it (they were over an hour away) and if they didn’t like it, I would buy their gas for the trip. Well, they decided that if I felt that strongly about it, they would make the drive. I’m sure you can guess the rest of the story… They loved it and now have a beautiful home overlooking a Driftless Area vista.

Driftless Area Winter Vista

I’m not telling this story to make myself look good but rather to make a point. If you as a buyer are just calling the listing agent for properties that you see on-line,  you will never build the relationship that allows an agent to really know you and give the service that I gave these folks. Had they been working with multiple agents, they would have missed their dream property. So pick an experienced agent in the area and property type that you’re looking for and build a relationship that lets him/her give you the service that you deserve.

Ten Years of Changes in Real Estate

We’re celebrating 10 years in real estate this month. That’s not very long really, but in that short time our business has changed from exclusively using newspaper ads to having nearly 100% of our contacts come through website ads. What will the next 10 years bring?

10 year REALTOR

One thing has remained constant throughout; our customers are the foundation of our success. This holiday season we say thank you to all of you that have placed your trust in us to assist you in completing your transaction. We are honored and humbled that you chose us. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

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