Value Beyond the Loan
The GreenStone Story Value Beyond the Loan


All land owners know what’s going on in their own area, but without actual numbers from the region, how can you make the best business decisions?


Tracking sales data generated from land purchases across Michigan and northeast Wisconsin allows our property appraisers to accurately value land. This is critical to both the customer and lender. Providing this analysis to our customers helps you to accurately evaluate your business options. Tracking the data annually, as GreenStone has done for over three decades, keeps us all aware of the trends and helps predict where values are headed to prevent any big surprises, while also being a valuable tool to provide the necessary data for accurate and current appraisals. This later benefit is of particular value to customers seeking financing; when we can use this existing analysis on a similar property being financed, we can avoid an additional appraisal – thereby saving the customer money and eliminating the time normally needed for appraisals. 


Beyond the cost and time savings, benchmarking helps in three main ways: setting goals, understanding your business environment, and discovering new opportunities.


Setting goals

For instance, when you know what the average land values are in your area, it helps you make better purchasing decisions. Is it worth getting a loan? Is it better to rent? Check out the percentages this year and over time to see where your money will make the most of a difference. If the price seems too high, readjust your purchasing goals for the future.


Understanding your business environment

Even if you know who is selling today, and for how much, this doesn’t give you the perspective on what’s been happening over the decade. If it is increasing or decreasing, this can help you understand the cycles in your area. If there is a pattern you’re seeing, then you can work with your advisors to figure out the best time to buy or sell land.


Discovering new opportunities

If prices are higher in your area, you can use this information to work with the sellers. Also, if another area looks more attractive, it is possible you can expand toward that direction. Land will always be valuable of course, and the more information you have, the better you can compare, analyze, and improve your selling and purchasing practices.


Making informed decisions

GreenStone’s appraisal professionals constantly monitor public and private property sales data to understand market trends within 13 benchmark areas. This data is tabulated annually to measure value trends over the prior year., The areas of study are segmented by value influence (geographic location, property type, improvements, etc.) allowing GreenStone to isolate specific trends. 


For farmers, this annual information helps them evaluate these trends to make even more informed decisions. We collect, curate, and deliver this market intelligence in order to arm customers with competitive strategies to use for their businesses. While GreenStone’s analysis is focused locally, Farm Credit associations across the country do a similar annual process. When combined, this national trend data allows farmers and ranchers across the country to understand marketplace trends for evaluating business decisions. With these resources from your financial partner, farmers can stand out in a competitive market, make improvements, and adjust strategies for the upcoming year.


GreenStone’s 2021 analysis identified either an increase or stagnation in all 13 benchmark areas, which may come as somewhat of a surprise considering the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and other governmental influences. 

Digging into the data


Value trends of Michigan and Wisconsin dairy farms experienced value increases, reflecting higher construction costs and a stabilizing market. Michigan saw a significant increase (13.5%) from 2020-2021, while Wisconsin also measured an increase of 2.9% after several years of value decline. 


Recreational and transitional

Land used for recreational and transitional purposes all saw value increases. Various factors influenced this surprising trend, as it is unusual to see blanket increases across the board: increasing remote work options, desire to live in the country, plus a return to nature attitude, etc. With these factors in mind, recreational land in northern Michigan is up 5.3%, while transitional land in southeast Michigan is up 11.9%. Transitional land in central northeastern Wisconsin remained stagnant after multiple years of increasing values. 


Cash crop

The general positivity in commodity prices has combined with low cost of borrowing to create a favorable environment for stabilizing and/or increasing land values. The greatest increase was noted in southern Michigan (primarily an area of cash crop influence), which saw a 14.3% increase in 2021. Mid-Michigan land value trends remained stagnant following a nearly 30% increase over the past ten years. Cash crop categories in Wisconsin also both saw gains, with increases of 3% in the southeastern part of GreenStone’s northeast Wisconsin territory, and 6.7% in the western part of the territory. 


GreenStone has a long history of working with our customers to make the best decisions, and we will continue to gather, prepare, and present this valuable data. As you focus on your business, we will work to help you make good financial choices and remain profitable. Monitoring land values is just one part of how we aim to provide the fairest and most equitable assessments to you.

To view the article in the online 2021 Fall Partners Magazine, click here.


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