Competitive Land Operators and Online Auctions
Being relatively large geographically land values in the northwest region of Wisconsin -- including Pepin, Eau Claire and Chippewa counties -- are influenced by a variety of factors. The vast majority of the transactions encountered span the Southern part of this territory. The western portions of St. Croix and Pierce counties tend to have stronger land values than the eastern portions of these counties.
Higher land prices here can be attributed to competitive land operators that tend to push eastward from the Twin Cities metro area. Tillable cropland sales in western St. Croix County have a weighted average of $6,454 per acre overall. The sales used in this average are between 70.85 – 268.56 acres, from January 1, 2020 to current. The prices have a wide range in sale price from $4,791– $10,222/acre. The graph below breaks the sales out by land class and averages them.
Pierce County has slightly fewer cropland sales since January 2020 as compared to the seven sales used in the St. Croix analysis above. The weighted average for the cropland sales that have closed in Pierce County is $6,096/per acre. The sales range in size from 23-120 acres and they range in sale price from $4,400 - $9,000. In addition being located near River Falls and the Twin Cities area, the higher land prices have been driven less by soil type and quality and more by proximity to the buyers’ current land. All of these sales were purchased by the neighbor or because the buyer had rented the field in the past. The graph below breaks the sales out by land class and averages them.
The northern counties like upper Polk County and Barron and those further north have remained relatively steady. Recreational prices have been on the higher side due to lack of supply and higher demand for these parcels. Recreational tracts in Douglas County typically range from $1,000 - $1,500 per acre and more marginal pieces have been pushing the upper end of this range.
With a push toward online auction format, this particular area is seeing an increased number of properties coming to market predominately spurred by estate sales. These sales are trending above values from the prior year. One example includes a property located in western St. Croix County where land values typically range in that $4,000/acre range. This particular farm sold for $4,750/acre. A combination of an extended marketing time, rising commodity prices and government stimulus funding administered over the past year likely contributed to price increase.
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