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Five Things You Need to Know Before Investing In Agriculture

Many people are hesitant to invest in agriculture, especially those that don’t have much experience in the land industry. A common assumption is that only farmers know enough about agriculture to confidently invest in it. However, agriculture can be a great investment for people of all walks of life. Before you take out your checkbook, here are six things you need to know about investing in agriculture.

1: More Than One Way to Invest

There are many ways to profit off agricultural land and you can do many of them simultaneously. Investors can make money off of the returns of the annual crops. Additionally, good quality land historically increases in value over time, so just holding the land can provide returns as it increases in value. If you want to see your investment grow faster, you can:

2: Agriculture Is A Hedge Against Inflation

Food historically increases in price over time, which allows agriculture to be a hedge against inflation. A hedge against inflation is an investment that is protected against the detrimental cost of inflation to an investment.

Future population growth is also a benefit to investing in agriculture. As the world’s population is expected to grow to 9.8 billion by 2050, there will be an ever-increasing demand for food. Global food production will need to increase dramatically to feed the growing population. This increase in demand could cause an increase in the value of crops and the land they grow on as supply decreases, providing insurance that there will be room for your investment to grow.

3: Long Term Investment

When the economy is good, like it is now at the time of this publication, people often put all their money in high-risk, high-reward stocks that offer quick and large returns. Crops need time to grow and flourish. Some crops, such as pecan trees, take three to four years to produce and often don’t reach full production potential until the tenth year. However, there will always be a steady demand for food, so this investment can add slow, steady growth to your savings. It can be easy to gravitate towards the get-rich-quick stocks, but investing in safe, slow-return stocks is important for the overall health of your investment portfolio.

4: Crop Insurance Protects Investors

With talks of trade wars and bad weather impacting the 2019 planting season, you might be hesitant to invest in agriculture. However, crop insurance was created to protect investors as well as farmers. If crops are destroyed due to natural causes or the price of the crops decline, the farmer still receives funds from the insurance so that investors can still collect their annual returns.

 

5: Diversify your portfolio

Investing in agriculture is a great way to diversify your portfolio. Much like timberland, agriculture doesn’t mimic the patterns of the stock market, giving your portfolio some much-needed protection against recessions. If you invested all your money in stocks and a recession hit, you could lose most of your investment. Agriculture is typically considered a safe, low-risk stock that can provide reliable returns and can be an excellent safety net for your financial future.

Agriculture shouldn’t be viewed as an investment only for industry insiders. Agriculture has been one of the biggest industries in America for millennia and has so much to offer investors. Investing in agriculture can be a great investment for your future.

Looking to buy agricultural land to invest in? Be sure to work with an experienced and qualified land expert in your area to find the perfect plot to invest in. If you click on the Advanced Search button, you can check the Agricultural/Farm Land option under Property Specialties to find an agent with experience in agricultural land.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

How and Why To Invest in Farmland

OVERVIEW: INVEST IN FARMLAND

From the beginning of time, farmers have been an integral part of feeding the public. Many technological changes have impacted the farming industry, from the invention of the plow to more modern advances, such as GPS technology, irrigation, and drought-tolerant seed varieties. Many facets have changed but one has not, the dirt. Investing in land is a “simple” process of purchasing property and creating value through: revenue, appreciation, or tax benefits. Although it sounds that many “simple” investors don’t understand the difficulty in selecting properties that make sense for their investment goals when they invest in farmland, for example investing in farmland for retirement.  Listed below are a few short items to look at before investing in farmland.

FIND A PROFESSIONAL

 

Many investors both large and small make the mistake of not employing a professional that has the knowledge of the industry/market and can care for their money. Many times, throughout my real estate career, investment experience and as a farmer myself, I have seen investors not use the correct professional with knowledge of the land. When looking to diversify with farmland, seek a real estate professional with historical and proven confidence in the area.

Accredited Land Consultant land transaction expert farmland

Typically, land professionals are part of organizations like The Realtors® Land Institute where land is the single most asset class, they deal in. To go further, Accredited Land Consultants are trained and accomplished in the industry, of which only a few hundred agents have acquired the designation worldwide.  I use the quote, “I will not go to a heart doctor to get my hip replaced.” A Realtor® who sells homes in an urban area would not have the specific expertise to know the farm and ranch industry and understand the investment quality of a property. A farm and ranch real estate agent would not know about condominium prices in downtown. Use the Find A Land Consultant tool and look for an ALC Designated agent (see why) to make sure you are using a qualified land professional.

BENEFITS

One of the best benefits known to investors is the ability to have land as a tangible asset when you invest in farmland. This is especially important when a portfolio is heavily invested in the stock market.  Another benefit we see in farmland is the tax deduction in relation to depreciation.  Many farms contain improvements that depreciate such as grain storage, irrigation pivots, shops, barns and etc.  An owner can depreciate some of these assets each year to offset yearly taxes.  Always ask your favorite CPA for more information.

invest in farmland

“The United States has some of the best potential farmland for investment…”

Another great benefit to owning farmland is the ability to lease, farm, or share crop your property, to make money.  The value of farmland has increased over the last several years due to an increase in demand for food and fiber globally.  The United States has some of the best potential farmland for investment because of our democratic government and the infrastructure it possesses; ie, railroads, rivers and highways. Other countries have very fertile soil but have no roads to deliver products to a port, and it makes for a hard harvest.  Also, some foreign countries have great land to grow crops but have a corrupt government and/or the state owns all the ports of exchange.  Not all international investments are bad, they just can be more volatile than the U.S.

SELECTION

When selecting a farm to purchase an investor needs to keep three simple points in their process.  Do I have the capital to make the investment? Do I feel comfortable in a long-term project? Can I leave emotions aside when purchasing/selling?

  1. Knowing your buying potential, aka how much can you spend, is key when purchasing farmland. Some investors move capital into property with no debt and many move some capital and acquire debt through lenders.  Lenders are everywhere and, in my opinion, choose a lender that understands farmland and its characteristics.  There are options for government loans through the USDA and other government entities as well.  Consult your land professional to direct you to lenders that can help.
  2. Farmland investing for the most part is a long-term project. Many investors buy land and hold it for extended periods of time to get the most return.  Many large investors may hold land for as long as 10+ years to see the returns.  The farm economy goes in cycles much like the economy, which as a whole goes up and down.  To see real potential in farmland, one must be ready to hold on through at least 5+ years.
  3. Emotion is always on the table when it comes to tracts of land. Throughout my career I have fallen victim to getting emotional towards a piece of property.  This is a definite thing to remember when it comes to you and your family’s financial future.  Leave emotions at the door.  The phrase, “time is money”, can go both ways. Waiting two years to purchase because it makes more sense financially or selling now because you have a willing buyer, may factor into your decision. Remember, “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush”.

“To see real potential in farmland, one must be ready to hold on through at least 5+ years.”

DIVESTING

After the asset has reached potential or maybe you are ready to buy a new investment, it is time to liquidate. When you invest in farmland, selling the property is as important as the day you purchase. I cannot express the importance using a qualified professional. Visit the Realtors® Land Institute to find a qualified agent when it comes time to sell your investment. The right professional can elevate your sales price, alleviate hassle, and supply you with confidence to the day of closing. When selling farmland, a land professional must qualify buyers and must advertise to the masses. This requires a tailored marketing program and someone with whom has the skill set to vet buyers and make sure qualified candidates can meet or exceed the requirements to get to the closing table.

CONCLUSION

Investing in farmland is very rewarding, if done correctly. The key to remember is to surround yourself with qualified people to help you make decisions. This is your money and your future, happy hunting!

About The Author: Clayton Pilgrim, ALC, is a licensed real estate agent with Century 21 Harvey Properties in Paris, Texas.  Throughout his career he has been in production agriculture from on the ground operations to large scale management.  Pilgrim is involved in private investing in farms, ranches, and recreational tracts throughout East Texas and Southern Oklahoma.  He is a member of the Realtors® Land Institute, an Accredited Land Consultant and on the board of the Future Leaders Committee.  He resides in Paris, Texas, with his wife, Kristy, and daughter, Caroline.

How To Pick The Perfect Agent for Your Land

You’ve found the perfect property to buy, sell, invest, or manage. There’s only one thing missing — the agent. Finding the right agent can be harder than finding the right property. Land transactions require specialized expertise so it is important to do your research when choosing an agent. Here are some tips to find the best real estate agent to help with your land real estate transaction.

1. Go Beyond Google

Google can be a great place to start, but there are many land-specific search engines, such as Find a Land Consultant that will tailor your search for your specific need and ensure you find a qualified agent.

What’s great about the Find A Land Consultant Tool search tool is that you can pick and choose exactly what you need for your land sale or purchase. You can select service specialties, such as conservation easements, investment management, tax deferred 1031 exchanges, and mineral rights, using the ‘Advanced Search’ functionality. You can also search for agents who specialize in ranch land, residential or commercial land, vineyards, farmland, timberland, and more.

2: Expertise

Nothing beats boots-in-the-dirt experience. It’s the best way to know the ins and outs of the industry. Someone with years of experience under their belt will know what common issues to look out for and the tricks of the trade to get you the best sale possible.

Looking at an agent’s expertise and history in land, especially if that experience is in doing transactions for your type of property, also lets you know if they are the right fit for you. There are many agents who have years of experience but still may not be right for handling your transactions.

For example, say an agent has spent 25+ years strictly selling massive commercial properties, and you have a 20-acre ranch. Even though the agent has decades of experience and probably is great at what he or she does, chances are you’ll want to work with a different agent. Take a look at their website and other listings or give their office a call to get a sense of what their strengths are and if they fit your needs.

3: Designations Matter

Achieving any designation requires time, hard work, and money. Almost every designation also requires continuing education to keep up with the latest in land news, laws, tech, and more. This is a guarantee that the agent will be up-to-date on all things land.

Jonathan Goode, ALC (who, by the way, specializes in agricultural/farmland, commercial land, and appraisals, just to name a few!) knows how important designations are in the land industry.

“These agents are demonstrating that they take seriously their commitment to excellence in their profession. Having these designations may not mean much to potential buyers, but it does show that they have worked hard to gain knowledge and proficiency in the discipline of land. Agents that are Realtors® have agreed to operate by and be bound to a Code of Ethics, which helps protect landowners in land transactions,” he said in a guest post for LandThink. They are also certified to have a high level of expertise in various aspects of land due to their completion of a rigorous education program, like RLI’s LAND University.

4. Marketing and Visibility

How an agent markets their property is important. Check out their websites and other listings. If you see their listings have been sitting on the market for a while, chances are yours won’t be flying off the shelves.

You’ll also want to think about their visibility. Do their listings show up during Google searches, or do you need to dig through pages before you find them? Do they have an active and engaged following on their social sites? Is their website updated regularly? Do they use drone video and high-resolution photos to market the properties?

“Pay close attention to how well an agent markets their listings online,” says Goode. “Recent statistics show that over 80% of buyers preview properties online before getting in their car and driving to look at land. You will get an idea about how much effort an agent will put into advertising your listing. Will your land be visible to potential buyers? It needs to be in this market so that ALL possible buyers are aware that you have a quality piece of land for sale.

5. Ask Questions That You Couldn’t Find Answered On Their Website

Most agents have almost everything you need to know on their website. You can find:

• how long they’ve been in the industry
• testimonials
• credentials
• specialties
• location
• listing examples
• And more in just a few simple clicks.

If you aren’t able to find those answers online, ask when you call them. You’ll also want to ask questions about your specific property and what their rates are.

The right agent will get you the best price for your land and smooth out the complicated process of buying and selling land. There’s a whole world of agents. Make sure you work with the best in the business – Find A Land Consultant near you to get started!

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.