Illinois Land Market Conditions
Is there a lot of land moving? How much is land up? Those are common questions the appraisal team gets from nearly every participant in the market. Typically, during the summer months, with minimal public sales during the corn/soybean growing seasons, those are difficult questions to address. We can, however, project land value increase or decreases impacted by price movement on corn/soybeans during these months. But keep in mind income projections can be highly variable and based on multiple factors.
This year has had more summer sales activity than typical. The reasons for summer sales vary but include pending tax law changes and booming alternative investments. The upward momentum on gross farm income from rising corn/soybean price levels is another main driver for the land supply available. Any party that was considering a sale prior to the new crop price levels, are more tempted by the realized high land prices across the Midwest during these summer month sales.
Another reason for more land sales available this summer is that significant, long term farm listings were absorbed. The properties were purchased by local farmers for expansion at or near full list price which was not nearly as palatable a few months prior. Specific to Western Illinois, there are multiple farm properties that were listed over several years that were absorbed by farmers in the spring timeframe.
For the above reasons, there are more farm sales in the Western Illinois market area during the summer months than typical. Since we have more sales, the second question of “how much is land up?” can be answered with more concrete evidence than an income projection.
An agricultural land sale search of five Western Illinois counties produced the below table summarizing forty-five sales including the months May through September. The below sales are either closed as of early October or public auctions/listings. Those forty-five sales were compared to the six months of July 2020 to December 2020 (prior to significant upward momentum on corn/soybean prices) including sixty-six sales. The similar PI per Tillable acre in the two sets of sales negates significant physical differences. The result of the comparison is a 10.5% increase in land values from a $8,460 per acre average for all sales to $9,349 of the more current period.
The 10.5% increase is not the astronomical increases seen in other markets. However, not all farmers have fully realized the new crop price levels and the Western Illinois market has not seen the investor pressure the Eastern Illinois farmland market has. Furthermore, the market tends to reset itself with a completed harvest and winter farm sales. The 10.5% increase from the previous year is a starting point before the upcoming sales season to keep in mind for Western Illinois.