Previously we featured recent FarmLink farm profile, Wundrow Farm, located in Sharon, Wisconsin, which you can read about here. Our Jim Kurczodyna went to the November 2 auction and here’s a retelling of what he experienced and the outcome.
The Auctioneer gave the details, “40 acres, 35 +/- prime tillable acres, 3 bed, 1 bath house,” and so on. Then, “Let’s begin!” he shouted. “Who wants to begin bidding at $500K?”
No movement from the 25 or so people who showed up.
$400K, $350K, $300K, on down to $250K – finally, a hand raised. “$250K to start,” said the auctioneer as his sidekick let out an exuberant yelp. The number then climbed back up as three or four active bidders quickly worked the numbers in their head. The auctioneer continued to put the pressure on. “Do I have $300K?” he repeated.
A hand raised.
Next, calls for $350K, $380K, and $385K also brought a raised hand. Finally, there was a long break as the auctioneer clamored on, and his sidekick made the rounds trying to solicit a motion. None came. $385K took the high bid for Wundrow Farm. However, the fate of the farm was not yet clear. Under the terms of the auction, Ken Wundrow, son of the late owner, had the option to accept or reject any bid.
While waiting for the final decision, I connected with a husband and wife who had been bidding. They own around 400 acres and they mentioned how buying farmland and finding tenants has become somewhat of a “hobby” for them. “Tearing down the house and other structures would have given us another five or so tillable acres,” they said, “and would also reduce the property taxes.”
I also talked to the high bidder. He said he farmed about 200 acres just a couple miles up the road and knew the Wundrow family well. “My daughter grew up with Ken,” he said. The thought of his savings being invested in another 35 acres of tillable land, instead of sitting in the bank at nearly zero interest brought a smile to his face. “I just sold a truckload of corn for about $5.50/BU,” he said. “That’s about $1,000 per acre.”
Most of those actively bidding seemed to be seasoned row crop farmers, but there was one young couple who came very close to raising their hand to $386K. I didn’t get a chance to connect with them after the auction, but it’s fun to dream about the alternate enterprises they might have pursued for the land.
I found out later that Ken accepted the high bidder's bid. It was a day wrapped in emotion for Ken. Seeing the farm he grew up on go to a close family friend was a fine outcome, but not what he expected. He shared, “It’s bittersweet. Wish I had enough resources (not only money) to do with it what I wished.”