OUTDOORS — Hunting lands still worth investing in
by John Woods
Published: September 6,2013
W hat is it they say about land? “Better get you some, because they are not going to make any more of it.” Landfills not withstanding. When I talk to hunters of all ages, regardless of the game species they like to pursue, everybody dreams about owning their own place one day.
As it turns out these days, making a long-term investment in land whether to produce a commodity to generate revenue like agricultural land or timber, buying land is one of the smartest investments one can make. If that property also happens to offer recreational values for hunting, fishing, camping or whatever that is added value to the owner.
In fact, most recreational land buyers these days are also shopping for collateral values from the same property. Hunters buy deer hunting land thinking the timber might produce residual value one day. Maybe some row crop land on the place could be leased to a nearby farmer looking for additional soybean acreage. Perhaps a hay field could be utilized to produce high value hay for livestock producers. The options can be endless.
Why Land Makes a Good Investment
According to Jacob Sartain, vice president of Sartains Heritage Properties, LLC of Madison (www.sartainsheritage.com), “Land has been and always will be the best and strongest long-term investment strategy for several reasons. Most all land has the ability to produce some type of commodity such as timber, grain crops, and minerals such as oil, gas, and gravel.”
“All investment strategies end up pointing in the direction of land as the most stable and safest investment when factored on a +/- 30-year investment. Land hedges against inflation and is a hard asset that be borrowed against,” says Sartain.
Sartain advises that land is always a buyer’s market when like now there is high interest in agricultural and commodities property making them very attractive to buyers. Right now these lands can offer a good return on the investment.
“Other types of land investments are the same such as timber investment. Today timber prices are somewhat moderate creating a situation where certain investors are interested in purchasing timber lands because of a reduced value on the timber asset. Buyers know that this will change in the future. By purchasing at the bottom of the curve will allow for capitalization when the prices of timber rise,” Sartain noted.
Meanwhile as the timber continues to mature toward a future harvest, the owners can build a weekend retreat and develop the land for hunting deer, turkey and small game. They can build a lake for fishing with a long dock for watching sunsets. Land ownership presents many opportunities for outdoors family recreation. This becomes even more added value to the long-term land investment.
Levels of Investment
For my money land has never been priced at what one would call “cheap”, but then that is a relative term. When I tell young people today (anybody under the age of 60) that I remember paying 15-cents for a gallon of gasoline, a nickel for a bottle of Coke-A-Cola, and 25-cents for the local movie theatre and that cost included a soft drink and a candy bar, they look at me like I am crazy.
Likewise when I tell folks I paid $275 per acre for hunting land with a mile frontage on the Big Black River, they are sure I am pulling their leg. I’m not. That was back in 1991. Wonder what it is worth today? For sure it is worth a lot more than if I had put that same money into a bank savings account or in a CD at today’s rates.
“Hunting land values today vary across a wide range depending on the area the property is located in and what’s on the property as far as habitat for wildlife. Most all investors when buying hunting land want to be located within an area that consistently produces quality game, whether it is ducks in the Delta or deer in the hills or perhaps a combination of both,” stated Sartain.
“In Mississippi across the board hunting lands can range from a low end value of $1000 per acre to a high end of $3,000 per acre. It is all about quality and location.” Shopping for such recreational lands also means assessing the infrastructure already built into the property. Are there roads, building structures, established food plots, ATV trails, electric power, water and other amenities? Buyers either have to pay for these features up front with the land purchase or spend considerable out-of-pocket dollars to create them.
Bank Lending for Hunting Land
“Lending for land is not as difficult as some may think. There are several options when it comes to financing and there are lots of lenders out there. In today’s market we find a fiscally sound individual can obtain financing around 80/20 or in other words, 20 percent cash invested while financing 80 percent of the amount. Interest rates are very low in the 4-5 percent range with flexible terms out to 30 years (this is as of end of April),” Sartain counsels. Indeed conditions are very favorable these days for land ownership.
In summary, “Land is easy to recognize as a most sound investment. Just look at America’s 100 wealthiest individuals and you will find overwhelmingly the majority are invested in land,” Sartain reports.
Sounds like a good time to look into land ownership for outdoors recreation, hunting or just enjoying a get away place of your own. It may well prove to be the best investment you ever made.
» John J. Woods, Ph.D., is vice president in charge of economic development and training, Eagle Ridge Conference and Training Center, the Workforce Development Center and contract training services at Hinds Community College in Raymond.
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