The farm- and ranchland sale business has a model.
Usually, the sales are local with an auctioneer, who reaches out with the “usual suspects” of advertising locally and promoting the sale throughout the region.
But what if you could gain the attention of a national audience for a farm or ranch sale? That’s the concept behind a new joint venture formed the first quarter of 2019.
The new entity is Ranch & Farm Auctions, to be headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The business is a joint venture of two leaders in their fields: Whitetail Properties, a Pittsfield, Ill., company with more than 220 land specialists and real estate agents serving the rural market; and Williams & Williams, a Tulsa, Okla., international real estate auction firm.
“We saw a need to have an auction company that specializes in ranch, farm and recreational properties, licensed in 50 states; and there isn’t any other company that does that,” says Greg Lutz, CEO, Ranch & Farm Auctions. “And we wanted boots on the ground with land specialists who know the local market.”
It’s a marriage that brings together the in-the-field specialist with high-tech auction tools — including simultaneous online and on-the-ground auction services. “When we meet with a landowner about his land, we can understand their needs and know the value of their property,” Lutz explains. “If a landowner has 3,000 acres to sell, we want to maximize the sale price. We might parcel it into several tracts, which allows us to get the highest value based on size and use — whether that’s tillable land, pasture or timber.”
He observes that most land auction companies work in a specific geographic area. But this new business with a heavy local and online presence opens land sales to buyers all over the country. “Our auctions are live online and live on-site.”
For example, for an auction conducted near Topeka, Kan., Lutz notes that bids could come not only from the local area but also from interested buyers in California, Florida and Texas, or even internationally.
The high-tech auction
A Ranch & Farm Auctions event has high-energy action going on behind the scenes. The auctioneer is wired to a cellphone, so online bids can be relayed during the event. Meanwhile, interested buyers can also call in their bids to registered agents in the crowd, too. All are ginning up bidding energy for the auction.
The online portion of the process is broadcast live on Williams & Williams’ Auction Network website. Participants can bid online via a link from the Ranch & Farm Auctions website, and an Auction Network studio host provides audio commentary and coverage to bring more prospective buyers to each auction.
There are some features this new joint venture brings to a land auction that may change the game for some. “We have a specialized marketing plan to maximize the value of the land, and a database of 2 million buyers in our system,” Lutz points out. “That broadens who we can reach for a local auction.”
Add in the land specialists as part of the program who can visit land for sale and prepare in-depth details on the soil, features and crop history — and before bidding begins, buyers have a good idea of what value they want to pay.
“The great thing about an auction is that it is a time-definite sale,” Lutz adds. “We spend a lot of time to get the info, do the drone video and get photography to help understand and market the property. There’s a 45-day marketing period, and then it’s going to sell.”
He adds that an auction can also be good way to deal with a piece of ground that’s been on the market for a while, too.
Land already moving
The joint venture started conducting sales late last fall, and its new website went live in March. The agents for Whitetail Properties are interested in being part of the venture, and Lutz says the company is working hard to train them. “They know the market, and we’re working to train them in auctions,” he says.
Once a buyer wins the bid, he or she cuts a check for 10% of the purchase price. The land is sold where is, as is, and the close must happen within 30 days. That deposit is also nonrefundable.
And what if the sale price doesn’t reach the reserve, which Lutz says is typically not disclosed before the sale? “Often, on the spot, we’ll talk to the highest bidders and usually can negotiate a sale,” he adds.
As with other areas of agriculture, technology and innovation are changing the rules. Ranch & Farm Auctions brings boots-on-the-ground insight from land specialists combined with the latest high-tech selling methods to innovate land sales. Learn more at ranchandfarmauctions.com.