Landowners who are opting to sell now are getting top value for their properties and taking advantage of a market trend that started in early 2020.
This can be attributed to, in large part, historically low interest rates — rates we expect to continue into the foreseeable future. There’s also a prominent desire among recent land buyers to shelter assets in a safe, long-term investment. Annual returns on farmland since 1990 (the first year of the index) average 11.5 percent.
Early last year, we wrote about this active, booming rural land market. At the time, this success was considered a remarkable feat — the land market was an outlier. Today, these favorable conditions remain in spite of a laundry list of uncertainties that have taken place to date: last spring’s plunging equity market, an erratic U.S. economy and the arrival of COVID-19, a virus that would ultimately become a global pandemic.
Buyer Trends Tell Our Story
Active buyers continue to pursue rural land opportunities and, in turn, rural land sellers are taking advantage of strong land values, their properties are selling quickly and for top dollar.
There’s nothing that we’ve observed at Whitetail Properties that suggest the hot land market we’ve enjoyed since last year is going to slow anytime soon.
Our company has experienced historic sales over the last 12 months. In 2020 alone, we sold 433,000 acres company-wide, which totaled $1.8 billion in sales for the year. On average, 10 properties were sold every day, company-wide.
These are extraordinary sales numbers that mark a historic year. But what may be even more encouraging is the online activity we’re seeing now on our website. Why? Because early last year, our website data served as an accurate forecaster of the record year we ended up having.
And based on what we’re seeing so far in 2021, every indication is that the buyer activity surrounding rural property will continue its record-setting pace well into this year.
Consider the following:
- In January 2021, our website’s total traffic was up 24% over reported traffic for the same month last year (January 2020)
- Organic search in January 2021 was up 29% compared to January 2020
- Referral traffic — defined as traffic entering our company’s website from other websites — was also up by 21% during this same time frame.
- So assuming increased activity surrounding our online property listings continues to translate into actual property sales, then 2021 looks to maintain or eclipse last year’s boom.
What to Expect in the Future?
While the aforementioned factors are propelling this hot, rural land market, Whitetail Properties Land Specialists have taken note of something else: an emotional aspect fueling the boom. There’s a heightened sense of urgency to invest in land. What was once a distant aspiration is now something that’s prompting action.
Jeff Evans, Whitetail Properties National Sales Manager, said as much last year. “Economic factors have aligned to create a favorable market for sellers,” he said. “And, as for the buyers, I think part of what we’re seeing is just this heightened motivation to get outside of the fray, to be outdoors, in open space pursuing activities that are physically rewarding.”
This motivation remains. Now, as we’re several months into 2021, it’s easy to be excited about what’s ahead for the rural land market and grateful about the year we had in 2020. It was a historic year for rural land buyers and sellers and certainly a historic year for Whitetail Properties.
Those who have recently listed a property — or will soon put their property on the market — can expect their land to sell quickly and at a premium. How long this trend continues is anyone’s guess, but every indication suggests land-buyer activity will not slow down anytime soon.