Iowa Farmland Sells for $30,000 at Auction in Dubuque County
What is Iowa Farmland Selling For?
I was alerted to a post on social media earlier today about a farm selling in Iowa for $30,000 per acre. Obviously curious to see more details about the farm, I looked it up to find out more. It was kind of exciting given it was the 6th time in 12 months that the Iowa farmland price record had been broken! Additionally, it would be the first time Iowa farmland would have hit the $30,0000 mark! It wasn’t that long ago, back in 2011, when an Iowa farmland auction achieved $20,000 for the first time. Today prices over $20,000 are no longer surprising in far northwest Iowa and scattered across other parts of the state, as well.
Back in September 2021, I wrote about a farm in Grundy County that had claimed the highest farmland price in Iowa at the time. While it did sell for the highest price, it also had significant wind lease income which made it worth a bit more than average farmland. Obviously, not all farmland is equal. Aside from quality, CSR elements, the location of farms, and additional income from other things can have a significant impact on its value.
I’ve advocated over time that defining what is or is not eligible to be considered as “farmland” might be advantageous in helping our clients understand some of the price anomalies that might occur in the market. With that being said, let’s examine this “farmland” and what may have contributed to its price.
Dubuque, Iowa Farmland
The property was located inside the city limits of Dubuque, Iowa, and bordering Asbury city limits. It’s easy to see from the aerial map above, that the surrounding area is significantly developed with new and recent developments. This isn’t average Iowa farmland and it’s extremely probable that the property was purchased for development purposes and not to be used as farmland. Here are a few stats and details: The property totaled 107.64 acres and had $27,500 annual income from a farming lease. The auctioneer was charging the buyer a 2% buyer’s fee making the $30,000 price $30,600 per acre for a total of $3,293,784. The property had CSR values in the middle ’50s and was zoned agricultural. The auctioneer’s description of the property included this, “The city of Dubuque has intentions for this property to be developed in the future and will work with the new owner on the different options available and goals for the property. City sewer is located at the southeast corner of the property.” The description also said, “With close proximity to Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, Hempstead High School, Dubuque County Fairgrounds, Medical Associates west campus, Grand River Medical group west campus, Kennedy Mall, Hy-Vee, Menards, Walmart, Lowes and many other businesses, this property’s location is second to none.”
Auctioneer, Land Broker, Founder
Jason holds Auctioneer or Land Broker licenses in Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. His DreamDirt team is composed of auctioneers, land brokers, and realtors. They specialize in farmland sales primarily serving the heirs to family farms all across the Midwest. We offer risk-free selling experiences and work hard to maximize the value of our client's assets using highly effective auction methods, technology, and powerful advertising.
So Is It a New Iowa Farmland Price Record?
While there is no definitive authority on farmland price records and our industry doesn’t determine or even keep track of price records, I think it’s pretty easy to see that farmers don’t have to be worried that $30,000 is the new top of the market. Properties with significant development potential have been selling at $30,000/acre and above for quite some time now. You can look to the western edge of the Des Moines metro, as well as the eastern and northern sides around Altoona and Ankeny for similar comparable property sales. Other areas of the state have also seen similar property sales, many of which tend to be private or off-market sales.
We learned about this one because it was sold openly and publicly using the auction method. Personally, I would have a hard time considering this an Iowa farmland price record. It is, as far as I know, the highest auction result for a property currently used for farming. The auction company did a good job marketing the property and achieved what I assume is the proper market value for the property. They never at any time claimed it was a record price so my commentary here is only to help others understand what an experienced land broker and auctioneer thinks about sale results. Good job to them. However, I continue to believe that in order for something to be considered a “farmland price record,” it has to be a farm that is currently used for farming and will likely continue to be used only as such for the next 30 years without any significant additional income from other sources. I think that’s the fairest and most transparent way to properly set land seller expectations and not confuse people about the value of farmland.
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