After several years of dramatic increases in the price of Midwestern farmland, investors are looking more to the Southeast and other areas for overlooked opportunities and values, according to ag real estate firm Murray Wise Associates.
"The interest in rising farmland values has focused primarily on the Midwest and the Plains, but I'm seeing signs that is beginning to change," Murray Wise wrote in a company blog.
"We recently sold a vineyard in Madera County, Calif., at a price many thought unthinkable until recently. And we're seeing a surge in farmland transactions in Georgia, Florida and other southeastern states, where prices have remained stagnant and, in some cases, even declined.
"Perceptive investors looking for good land and solid values are giving the South a good look," Wise noted.
While most farmland sold at auction lately has been going to operating farmers, large investors are still looking for values, purchasing land in private treaties and looking at such alternatives as vineyards and orchards, he said.
The trends reflect a renewed focus on fundamentals, he wrote. "Instead of asking where farmland prices are headed, more investors have returned to the things that really matter, like value, long-term demand, costs, rents, land quality and other factors that go into successful farmland investing. We need to focus on what rate of return a farm can provide," Wise said.