What will rising interest rates do to farmland prices?
One of the most frequent questions we are asked is:
“What will happen to farmland prices if interest rates continue to increase?”
The answer to this question is not as simple as it may seem. Many factors will contribute to the solution. We must consider 1) the increase in farmland interest rates, 2) the time that farmland interest rates are expected to stay at a higher level, and 3) the current level of farmland prices.
There are two buyers of farmland: farmers and investors. We typically see institutional investors as cash purchasers and not using debt. We have seen other investors use debt in purchasing land but typically only when interest rates are low. Given the run-up in farmland values in the last 24 months, we have seen many traditional investors pause their capital deployment.
On the farmer side, farmer balance sheets are solid at this point, with record farm incomes for the last couple of years. As a result, farmers up until recently have been very active in buying farms. While we still see the occasional $20,000+ per acre sale, we also see some softening prices.
Let’s look at what happens to the cost of buying as farmland interest rates rise. Here are the parameters for the purchase:
|Acres: 80||Price Per Acre: $12,000|
|Interest Rate Today: 8.5%||Interest Rate One Year Ago: 4%|
|30-year fixed-rate mortgage||35% down payment|
In December 2021, the farm outlined above would have resulted in a $ 36,086-a-year payment. However, that same farm today would require a payment of $58,063, a 61% increase in 12 months. If farmland interest rates continue to increase as expected, we could see 10% interest rates on farm mortgages by the middle of next year.
We are in an environment where borrowing money for a farm purchase is becoming prohibitively expensive. This environment will continue to have a cooling effect on the market. Fewer buyers and more costly loans will cause land prices to pull back from the highs established this year.
While we see volatility in the equity markets and continued economic challenges ahead, attractive farmland is still generating a lot of interest with solid farm returns following favorable growing seasons, above-average yields, and high commodity prices.