As reported in the Salina Journal: Kansas agricultural land increases in value. A prized gem in the plains just went on the market for $32 million. This 2,200- acre hunting venue is spread across five counties in central Kansas. “Hooray Ranch is one of the biggest (agricultural recreation facility) ones for sale,” said Tom McFarlane, Whitetail Properties Real Estate land specialist who is listing the property. “There’s only a few of these type properties in the Midwest. They’re pretty hard to come by.”
Like other agricultural lands in the U.S., McFarlane expects this property, which was established in 2013, to move quickly. Spanning five counties, which includes the ranch and 11 non-adjacent farms, the land is loaded with waterfowl, pheasants and deer.
The main campus in Reno County features a 10,000-square-foot mansion, a 9,000-square-foot lodge, a gourmet farm-to-table dining room, orchards, a vegetable and herb garden, lushly decorated guest rooms and premier hunting facilities. The 11 farms and hunting lands are in Harper, Kingman, Reno and Sumner counties, with the most farmland being held in Stafford County.
Hoping to create a legacy, the owner wants the land to remain a hunting facility that includes 11 farms, which offer tillable income and wildlife food and water sources.
“Properties like the Hooray Ranch are kind of like a league of their own,” said Alex Gyllstrom, the marketing director for Whitetail.
Many Kansas farmers opt to rent. “The market is incredibly hot right now,” Gyllstrom said. “We’ve seen an acceleration in the last 18 months.” Whitetail sells agricultural properties in 38 states. In 2020, the company had just under $2 billion in sales.
“We’re seeing definite movement from larger city centers to rural areas,” Gyllstrom said. “People have changed their priorities. They have come to have a newfound appreciation to get out and have fresh air.”
According to Gyllstrom, there are three major reasons for either relocating to rural areas or purchasing a secondary home in the country. These include low interest rates, changing priorities — including more people working from home due to COVID-19 — and wanting to invest in real estate due to the volatility of the stock market.
“Land has been one of those investments that only appreciates over time,” he said. “Historically, it’s a safe investment. Farmers retiring and the next generation not wanting to stay on the farm, their land goes up for sale. Oftentimes, on the smaller properties, local farmers buy the land”, he said. But with large tracts, investors are entering the mix.
“People want to create new memories and spend time with family and friends,” Gyllstrom said. “Similar to trends across the country, those moving to Kansas, are buying and looking for something that is in fairly close proximity. For the most part, they are staying somewhat regional,” he said.
McFarlane agreed: “Many people that are moving here are coming from neighboring states,” he said. “Colorado, Missouri and Texas.”
Agricultural land prices on the rise. Agricultural land sales in Kansas totaled 420,578 acres in 2020, 15% greater than the 2019 value, according to the Kansas State University Kansas Land Value Book, which examined agricultural property from 2015 through 2020.
Because of its proximity to Kansas City, the northeast region has the highest land value; however, this region has the smallest sales volume — approximately 22,000 acres in 2020.
Southwest Kansas, according to the Kansas Land Farm Book, on the other hand, sold the greatest volume of land last year, totaling more than 100,000 acres. West central, north central, central, northwest and east central all hovered between 35,000 to 40,000 acres of agricultural land sold.