Kansas land values have remained strong in recent years, in spite of a downturn in commodity prices, uncertainty over trade agreements and the global coronavirus pandemic.
Cody Chaplin, a Kansas land broker with Whitetail Properties, says he expects to see more of the same through 2021, especially for land that offers good opportunity for development as recreational property on a home site — the kind of land that is a focus for Whitetail.
“There’s absolutely explosive growth in buyers entering the market,” he says. “Part of that is fueled by the uncertainty in the equity markets. People who have made money in stocks during the long run of increasing prices are looking for a safe place to put it, and land is a very stable investment. But another part of it is that more and more people are looking for a rural lifestyle.”
Chaplin said he lives about 50 minutes outside the Kansas City metropolitan area and is in contact with a lot of people who want to move out of the city.
“I think the virus has escalated that, but it was a trend we were already seeing over the past several years,” he says. “People like the idea of space and scenery. And as the virus has brought more people into working from home, they are learning that they don’t necessarily need to live close to work.”
Internet connection key
One thing that is essential to those potential buyers is a strong internet connection. “People are more worried about internet connection that available water. In one case, I have a couple looking at a smaller tract where it will cost $33,000 to get rural water there. They aren’t even worried about it. That just goes to show what levels people are going to in order to move to the country.”
He said land prices in Kansas are quite attractive, and interest rates are low, which increases the interest in buying that country home or hunting retreat.
For typical farmland, Chaplin says the market is also surprisingly stable in spite of the fact that many farmers are struggling.
“It’s been really tough. When corn prices went to $8, the input costs went up and have stayed there even as prices have come back down,” he says.
He says it has been challenging to get appraisers to see the added value in that recreational land, and that people are used to the top-quality farmland bringing those top prices.
There can be an advantage to farmers who have the ability to carve a homesite out of a wooded area that they can’t farm, and putting a 2- or 3-acre parcel up for sale. If there’s a spring-fed stream on the property, that’s a top value. But vacant land without trees is also selling if it’s a feasible spot for a building a home.
“People are willing to plant trees,” he says. “I’m seeing about five times more buyers looking that I see parcels for sale. And the smaller parcels are the most desirable. I think it’s a trend that we are going to see for a long time.”