by: Jay Frazier

The year finished strong with a large number of transactions closing in the 4th quarter.  Total land sales in SW Wisconsin were up 12% compared to the 4th quarter of 2011 with Iowa County realizing the largest sales increase.  Over 1,000 acres changed hands in Iowa County between October 1st and December 31st.  The average sold price-per-acre dropped significantly in conjunction with this big jump in sales for Iowa County (from $3892 in the 3rd quarter down to $3093).  Since the tillable to wooded ratio remained fairly constant it would appear that Iowa County prices are aligning themselves more closely with the rest of SW Wisconsin.  Buyers took advantage of this trend as evidenced by the high number of transactions and acres sold.

4th Qtr Land Sales Chart

Prices were fairly even across the region with an average price per acre of $2546.  However, when comparing this to the average price per acre of the last quarter in 2011, it is down by almost 12%.  This continues the downward trend we saw in the 3rd quarter and was influenced by several factors.  Sellers were quite motivated to close in 2012 due to the uncertainty of capital gains tax changes for the New Year.  Also, buyer demand held fairly steady for properties priced near the current market value.

4th Quarter 2012 Land Prices Chart

The land price decline through 2012 taken together with the increase in sales would indicate the land market is still in recovery mode.  With the exception of farmland, average land prices in SW Wisconsin still struggle to make significant gains.  On the positive side, the higher transaction numbers in 2012 helped reduce a lot of excess inventory which clears the way for building stronger buyer demand and higher per acre prices in 2013.

Below is a summary of land sales by county (data from SCWMLS & WiREx):

GRANT 4th   Quarter LAFAYETTE 4th   Quarter
2012 2011 2012 2011
# of sales 7 4 # of sales 3 6
total acres sold 335 406 total acres sold 383 864
Avg $/acre $2,313 $2,921 Avg $/acre $2,765 $4,283
# of sales 7 10 # of sales 6 5
total acres sold 367 1082 total acres sold 349 127
Avg $/acre $2,588 $1,941 Avg $/acre $2,729 $3,175
# of sales 3 5 # of sales 9 8
total acres sold 216 272 total acres sold 618 417
Avg $/acre $2,576 $1,846 Avg $/acre $2,420 $2,544
# of sales 11 3 # of sales 46 41
total acres sold 1016 145 total acres sold 3284 3313
Avg $/acre $3,093 $4,328 Avg $/acre $2,641 $3,005

To learn more about the current land market in Southwest Wisconsin, begin your search here:

All data was taken from the SCWMLS & WiREx. Because this article was intended to review the rural land market, properties smaller than 15 acres, residential, and commercial land sales were not included. Acreage breakdown may vary due to land remnants and other factors.
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