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Rural county land sales steady in 2013 (01/12/2014)
By Chris Rogers
The numbers are in for 2013 rural land sales. The year went by without a new record being set for tillable land prices. "This is good news for a lot of folks," said Winona County Recorder Bob Bambenek. He suggested that land prices may have moderated somewhat in 2013. The rise in values will not be as steep as it was following record-high sale prices in 2012, when evaluations jumped over 40 percent, but property values on tillable land are not going down and may continue to rise, said Winona County Assessor Steve Hacken.

In the highest sale price of the year, a 138-acre parcel of mostly tillable land in Wilson Township sold at auction for $8,231 per acre, compared to the $14,000 per acre highest sale in 2012. Because that $8,231-per-acre parcel is near areas the city of Winona, the Winona Area Industrial Development Association, and others hope to develop, its price may not be representative of agricultural land values. A 107-acre Warren Township parcel with 95 tillable acres brought in the next highest price per acre at $7,477.

Admittedly, calculating tillable land values from the properties sold last year will be made more difficult by a number of complicating factors. Many of the properties were small sized parcels, had a mix of pasture and woodlands, or had buildings on them. "All of these variables make comparisons to determine where the selling price on tillable land actually is somewhat challenging," Bambenek said.

Bambenek held up three sales as good indicators of cropland values: an 80-acre parcel in in St. Charles Township that sold for $6,200 per acre; a 43-acre, mostly tillable parcel in St. Charles Township that sold for $5,652 per acre; and a 58-acre, mostly tillable parcel in Wilson Township parcel that sold for $6,000 an acre. Because the main examples of tillable acreage sales come from those two townships, "we don't have a good overview of the entire county," he said.

The Assessor's Office will make calculations and final evaluation determinations later this spring.

Bambenek added, "The question is always asked, 'Who were the buyers? Who were the purchasers?' And on a very quick look they appear to be farmers and they appear often to be neighbors."

Land sale details

The least expensive per-acre price for land sold in 2013 was in Norton Township, where a 20-acre parcel of mostly hillsides and woods sold for $2,300 per acre. Other notable lower-priced sales included a 24-acre parcel in Richmond Township, mostly non-tillable, which sold for $3,000 per acre, a 92-acre New Hartford Township parcel of pasture and forest that sold for $2,400 per acre, and 15 acres with about 50 percent tillable land that sold for $3,000 per acre in Utica Township.

The largest land sale was 187 mostly tillable acres sold in Wiscoy Township for over $1 million, at $5,563 an acre; the second largest sale was for 162 acres in New Hartford and Dresbach townships that included buildings, pasture, timberland, and 27 tillable acres, which sold for $545,000.

Only two of the rural land sales reported by Bambenek were sold at auction, and many of the sales of larger parcels were listed as not advertised.  


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