Buying Land

Farmland Auction Insights

Farmland Auction Insights

Atlas 1031’s Andy Gustafson attended a farmland auction held by Schrader Auction and shares his insights into the bidding process. He learned there are two types of bidders simultaneously accessing the value or price points. The individual bidder considers one or a combination of tracts while the whole bidder is analyzing price points for the whole or entire farm. Each has their value point they will not exceed. It is a fair and expedient process pitting the sum of the individual bids against bids for the whole.

In a large banquet facility located on the Boone and Hamilton County line, a couple hundred registered bidders and interested bystanders listened to veteran auctioneer Rex Schrader, CEO of Schrader Auction, cover auction procedures. For the next two hours, a 681-acre farm parceled into thirteen tracts representing high quality cropland, fenced pastures, woodland and streams, recreation areas and ½ mile rows with good frontage and updated drainage would be the focal point of competitive bids for the whole and individual tracts.

The room was laid out with a large screen showing a map of the farm in parcels numbered 1 – 13. Next to the map was a spreadsheet, continually updated with the parcel number, bid, bidder’s number, and price per acre. To the left and right of the screen, large whiteboards were used to show the bids by parcel number, combination of parcel bids, bids for the whole and current sum of parcel bids. The auction team began their orchestrated movements starting with updating the whiteboard when Mr. Schrader opened the auction for a bid on tract number one.

“$300,000 …, now $325,000,”rang the call of the auctioneer. “Now $350,000 for a 75 acre tract with 60 acres high quality cropland and 15 acres nice woodland.” The tract has county drainage tile and new drainage improvements. Indiana farmland has been sold for $7,000 and higher per acre. The current $4,666 per acre bid would later be replaced with a winning bid of $480,000 or $6,400 per acre.

Schrader Auction agents walked the bidders’ tables, talking specifics with bidders and notifying  Mr. Schrader that they had a new offer. The spreadsheet and whiteboards were updated with the bid and the bidder’s number. The process would repeat itself over and over with individual bids, updates, combination parcel bids and ultimately, bids for the whole. It was a well coordinated event run by professionals that clearly understand the auction process. Mr. Schrader was helpful highlighting those undervalued parcels encouraging additional bidder consideration. When the whole parcel bid exceeded the sum of the individual bids, Mr. Schrader would suggest to the individual bidders to consider increasing their bids by $10,000, not to meet but rather exceed the whole bid.

I sat next to one of the eventual winning individual bidders. He came to the auction with financing and down payment in place to bid and not exceed his value point. When his combination parcel bid was exceeded, he would counsel with a Schrader agent to confirm his new bid would be sufficient to exceed the current bid. In the end, his bid was increased beyond his value point and he quickly placed another bid for a combination of two tracks he had walked the day before as a contingency tract. His intent is to build a home and possibly sell a portion of the land for residential lots. His tracts represented 38 acres with 14 acres cropland for hay and 24 acres woodland on both sides of a creek. What he bought for $4,800 per acre contrasts with the $25,000 per acre zoned R1 or residential asking price within eye site in Boone County, a northern suburb of Indianapolis.

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About the author

Andy Gustafson, CES

Andy Gustafson, Certified Exchange Specialist®, is a managing member of Atlas 1031 Exchange, LLC, a nationwide accommodator of Internal Revenue Code Section 1031. He founded the company in 2007, and has since expanded his professional services into Texas and the Midwest. He has spoken to hundreds of investors at Wealth Camps and Real Estate Investment Clubs nationwide and is a sought after speaker on the topic. As an approved continuing educational provider, he has helped hundreds of Realtors, Attorneys, and CPAs understand the application of the 1031 code. To date he has accommodated over 500 exchanges representing $433,000,000 in exchanged value and deferring over $22,000,000 in taxes.

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