Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How Low Can They Go?

Though they've crept up in recent weeks, mortgage rates remain at ridiculously low levels (I've seen quotes for 30-Year Fixed Mortgages at 4.39% this week; and 15-Year Mortgages at 3.76%), meaning now might be the perfect time for you to buy a new house.

I am a Realtor with experience dealing with residential and farm properties in the Willmar area. The most recent data show that the median sales price for homes in Kandiyohi County remained around $130,000 to $135,000; and while the number of sales reported dropped a little from 2008 to 2009, the market has improved in 2010.

Sales prices have been lower in surrounding counties like Renville (about $70,000 to $75,000), Swift ($75,000 to $80,000) and Chippewa ($75,000 to $85,000), and Chippewa saw a decline in median prices from 2008 to 2009. Prices rose about 10% to 15% in both Swift and Renville during that time frame.

If you're looking for a house right now, I'd love to help you find the right one. I am easy to work with, and can make sure you pick out a house with a mortgage that works for you. Give me a call at 320-894-7528 or e-mail me at and I will help you out!

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Noah Hultgren
The FarmlandMan

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mortgage rates going lower, home sales going higher

Finally it seems like things are starting to loosen up in home sales, thanks to record-low mortgage rates. At the end of September, Freddie Mac said that 30-year mortgage interest rates were averaging 4.32 percent - that is awesome! At that number, 30-year rates tied the lowest on record; while 15-year rates were hovering around 3.75 percent, which set a new record low.

In response, the number of home sales started increasing in the last couple months. A report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows a steadily improving market. The Pending Home Sales Index, which is a gauge of future home sales, increased from July to August.

If you are ready to buy a house, or sell your current house, please contact me at I'm a little busy in the tractor, but I would love to work with you and meet your real estate needs.

Noah Hultgren
The Farmland Man

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Farmland Values

The number of sales happening has certainly slowed down in the last couple years, but for farmland, the values really haven't. The professional realtors at North Central Realty and myself have always worked hard to get good values for both sides of the equation, and 2010 has been no exception despite the recession.

Obviously land values vary greatly based on location and demand, and we work with a wide variety of landowners not just in Minnesota, but in Iowa, South Dakota, and other midwestern states as well. We keep track of our sales, and post some of them on our North Central Realty website. If sales in 2010 are any indication, farmland values are still going up.

In 2009, we had at least 2 farmland sales at more than $5,000 per acre - one in Renville County and another in Sibley County. We had several other properties sell for more than $4,500 per acre, including farms in Renville, McLeod, and Mower Counties in Minnesota, and Grant County, South Dakota. Just under half of the sales at North Central Realty were at $4,500 or above per acre in 2009.

So far in 2010, all of our sales have been over $5,000 per acre. This again includes farm property in Renville County, which was bought by a group of 2 farmers, as well as farms in Mitchell and Sac Counties in Iowa. If trends keep up, perhaps half or more than half of the North Central Realty farm sales in 2010 will go for over $5,000 an acre!

Please contact me to learn about our real estate services. I would be happy to help you sell your prime farmland for the best possible price!


Noah Hultgren

The FarmlandMan

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Good reasons to get your farmland appraised

With interest rates so low and farmland values so high, now seems like a smart time to have your farmland appraised by a real estate expert like me, the Farmland Man.

Cash rental rates have increased so fast over the last decade, it may be hard for you to know how fast the value of your land has gone up in comparison. Our appraisals are most useful for real estate financing, estate planning, settlements, or determining listing and sale prices.

I offer prompt, quality appraisals at an affordable price. All my appraisals comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP), the most widely recognized set of standards in the real estate industry. I also follow the Uniform Agricultural Appraisal Report format that is widely recognized and accepted within the agricultural finance community.

I am a specialist in farm and rural real estate appraising, including:

  • Rural residences

  • Bare land

  • Recreational land

  • Grain handling facilities

  • Other farm operations (dairy, hog, farrowing, nursery & finishing units)

If you are interested in selling your land, but you need to know the market value, please contact me the FarmlandMan, at 320-894-7528 or I will provide quality help for a reasonable price.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you all had a safe and happy 4th of July! I always enjoy the 4th with my family and friends, and I hope you were able to as well.

But the 4th also gets me thinking about our government, and taxes. Your house is one of the best tax-cutting assets, starting with deductions for all or part of your mortgage interest, any points you paid to get the mortgage, and your property tax payments can all cut your annual tax bill.

But perhaps the best tax-saving opportunity comes when you sell your house. Believe it or not, you may qualify to exclude all or part of any gain from the sale of your main home from your income. According to the IRS, to claim the exclusion, you must meet the following ownership and use tests:

* You must have owned the home for at least two years
* You must have lived in the home as your main home for at least two years

From there, if you have a gain from the sale of your main home you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).

As a professional real estate agent, I can help you navigate this process and save taxes! What a great way to celebrate the 4th!

Happy Independence Day,
Noah Hultgren

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2009 Farm Finances

I was just reading through the 2009 FINBIN Report on Minnesota Farm Finances which was recently released by the University of Minnesota's Center for Farm Financial Management. It shows that 2009 was a challenging year, particularly for livestock farms. Though every farm is different, median net farm income per farm was down 63% in 2009 (from $91,242 in 2008 to $33,417 in 2009). Incomes were down substantially for virtually every type and size of farm.

Because of declining profits at dairy farms and a third straight year of lower profits at hog farms, livestock farms of all types struggled to generate enough profit to support family living expenses. With the average price for milk dropping to $13.57 per hundredweight, the median dairy farm earned just $5,384. Hog farm profits fell again, dropping 87% from 2008 to 2009 to $7,415. The median beef farm, which includes cattle finishing and cow-calf operations, actually showed a net farm loss of -$6,534.

While cash crop farms were more profitable than livestock farms, the median earnings of crop farms were essentially cut in half (down 55% from 2008 to 2009) to $60,101. After a strong showing in 2008 (10.5%), the average farm earned a rate of return on assets (ROA) of 3.1% in 2009.

Still, the report states that "the average farm’s net worth increased by over $59,271 while their debt to asset ratio improved slightly to 44%. Most of this increase, however, resulted from increases in asset values rather than earned net worth growth."

Profits were down in all regions of the state, but farms in our Southwestern region earned the highest median farm income in 2009, and land values remain high. If you are interested in capitalizing on the value of your farmland, please contact me for real estate advice. I can provide agricultural appraisals, real estate sales, auctions, or farm management consulting.

Noah, The FarmlandMan
320-894-7528 or

data in this post taken from the 2009 FINBIN Report on Minnesota Farm Finances;

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How Low Can They Go?

I just saw an article about how mortgage rates are as low as they have been in my lifetime - currently as low as 4.87 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (according to

If you're ready to buy a house now or in the near future, this might be one of the best times to buy because house prices are nearly as low as the mortgage rates! The worry is always that the prices and rates won't stay low for long. I don't have a crystal ball, but it seems like housing prices are starting to trend upward, and mortgage rates probably will soon as well.

Lawrence Yun, who is the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, doesn't think it will last long. "I think they won't last much longer than a month or two at best," he said recently. "I can see them going up to 5.5 percent by the end of June, if not sooner."

There are a lot of good, affordable houses on the market right now; and I'd love the opportunity to work with you to find the right one for your needs. Contact me at 320-894-7528 or at today and we can discuss your situation and start sorting through the housing inventory. Now is a great time to buy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring Planting Progress

This spring has gone remarkably well for platning. I saw a communication from the beet plant the other day saying that 2010 planting is complete, which is much better than last year at this time.

I checked the USDA Agricultural Statistics Service data, and it appears that most crops are ahead of schedule as compared to last year. As of May 3, it said that 97 percent of Minnesota's sugar beet acres were planted; while just 19 percent were planted last year at this time. The five year average for sugar beets is about 44 percent through April.

Likewise, about 87 percent of corn acres were planted; as compared to only 56 percent last year and 41 percent for the five year average. Nine percent of corn is already emerged, compared to 1 percent each of the last five years.

Only about 19 percent of soybeans are planted, but that is also way ahead of schedule in comparison to the last five years. In contrast, nearly 100 percent of oats, barley, and spring wheat are already planted.

If the weather continues to cooperate, this should be a good crop year.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

First-time Homebuyers

If you are a first-time homebuyer, now is a great time to buy a new house. Some of you may have heard about the tax credit for first-time homebuyers established in 2008, under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act. It was worth up to $7,500, and perhaps spurred some real estate activity.

But I’m guessing everybody has heard about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more commonly known as the Stimulus Act, of 2009, which expanded the first-time homebuyer credit up to $8,000 for home purchases made in 2009 before Dec. 1. However, the deadline was recently extended, in an effort to continue to spur the market.

Now, according to the IRS website, “taxpayers who have a binding contract to purchase a home before May 1, 2010, are eligible for the credit. Buyers must close on the home before July 1, 2010.” ~,,id=204671,00.html

This can be a very good deal for first-time homebuyers who purchased a home in 2009, who can actually claim the credit on either their 2008 return or their 2009 tax return, which is due on April 15, 2010. For more information, visit the IRS question and answer section at:,,id=187935,00.html

If you are a first-time homebuyer who is ready to buy a house now, give me a call at 320-894-7528 or e-mail me at

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Farmland Values Continue to Rise

Farmland values continued to rise last year and are once again reaching all time record levels. How long will it last? Nobody has a crystal ball but there are some factors to consider.

The current top capital gains rate of 15% on most assets is the lowest it’s been for years. The Obama administration has talked about raising it to 20%, with another possible 4.5% surtax for the high tax bracket people. Couple this with a state capital gains rate of 8% and you could really see Uncle Sam take a bite out of your money!

The S&P 500 peaked at 1,565 points on October 9, 2007. Then the bear market hit and pulled it down to 676 on March 9, 2009. As of January 2010, the market recovered again to 1,138. A nice bounce back, but how long will it take to get back to even? History shows that it can take up to 5 years to make up for damage caused by downturns in the market. Where will investors park their money?

Farm net income has jumped from $48 billion to an average $64.5 billion in the last decade. While 2010 projects to be slightly below the average, it still projects to be the fifth highest amount of income produced in farming. Livestock economic conditions are expected to improve while crop producers look to stabilize.

Corn yields in Minnesota have nearly doubled since 1980 - from 100 bushels/acre to almost 170 bushels/acre. The ethanol industry has been a big part of this movement, and will look to continue by having 15% ethanol blended into regular gasoline. The country will need to produce more corn on the same (or less) amount of land.

As the value of farmland has increased, rental rates have soared. We have seen anywhere from 10-70% increases in land rental rates from 2004-2009. The law of supply and demand, commodity price and yield, farm size increases, machinery technology, and chemical application are the biggest factors.

There are many other factors that have contributed to farm land increases. For more information, go to my website at, email me at or call me at 320-894-7528. We are land specialists!


Noah Hultgren
The Farmland Man