The highest crop land prices in Winona County history were recorded in 2012. A 27-acre parcel in Wilson Township north of I-90 brought in $14,074 per acre, and Winona County Recorder Bob Bambenek mentioned that the tillable crop land could be converted in the future to commercial or industrial use. Even tillable crop land expected to remain in agricultural use sold for over $8,000 or even $10,000 per acre in several 2012 sales.
The average price per acre was $6,816 for the year, and total property recordings were up 18 percent over 2011. Mortgages, some with rates as low as 2.75, rose 29 percent in 2012.
The year also brought the first farm to be divided for owners to pursue frac sand mining. A contract was recorded in December for the sale of a farm between family members, with the contract retaining the sand and the right to quarry it to the granting party. Bambenek said he expected to see more similar sand transactions in the future.
Aside from the Wilson Township land near I-90 that sold for over $14,000 per acre, the most expensive land sold in the county in 2012 was in Warren Township. The 14-acre site was sold for $142,500, or $10,179 per acre.
A number of parcels sold for over $8,000 per acre, including a 59.4-acre site in Wilson Township ($8,655 an acre), a 150.5-acre site with tillable soil in Utica Township ($8,715 per acre), an 8.54-acre building site in Whitewater Township ($8,724 an acre), and a 56.3-acre tillable parcel in Wilson Township ($8,655 per acre). The largest land sale recorded was a 213.91-acre spot in Saratoga Township consisting of 165 tillable acres and buildings that sold for $1.175 million.
The Mueller family estate auction in September drew over 500 people and some of the highest per-acre prices for the year. A 59.4-acre site south of I-90, a 109.8-acre site south of Township Road 29, and a 24.6-acre parcel south of I-90 all sold to a common owner for $1.65 million. Additionally, a 111.5-acre site, also south of I-90, sold for $725,000.
Bambenek told the board that with the exception of one crop land sale, all land was sold to active farmers in the area.
Historically-low mortgage rates brought a spike in mortgage purchases, with 2,602 mortgages taken out in 2012 compared to 2,010 in 2011. Satisfaction of mortgages was up by 27 percent over the previous year, and mortgage foreclosure sales also rose by 15 percent. Notices of pending foreclosures dropped by seven percent.
"Residential real estate sales showed strength during the second half of 2012," said Bambenek. "The number of sales, sale prices and the number of sales over county market value were all up compared to a year ago."