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Four Elements of Value for Residential Land in Anne Arundel County Maryland

Four Elements of Value for Residential Land in Anne Arundel County

 

As a professional land broker who has sold more than $400 million worth of land for development and much of it in Anne Arundel County, Maryland I’d like to explain the four elements the bring value to a parcel of residential land in Anne Arundel County.

Anne Arundel County is one of the oddest counties that I’ve ever brokered land. In most other counties different types and prices of houses fit together like puzzle pieces -  higher price homes over here, lower price houses in this corner, older townhomes in that not so nice neighborhood in the middle, the fancy waterfront property along the side.  Not so in Anne Arundel County.  In parts of Pasadena one will see waterfront homes selling in the low seven  six figures immediately next to older homes that on a good day might sell for little more than a hundred thousand dollars. In Severn, I sold a large parcel of land where single family homes are selling in the $600,000 range and the property next to it contains more than 100 moderate rental townhomes. Throughout Anne Arundel County one can find McMansions next to seventy year old cape cods and turn of the century farmhouses.

Location doesn’t seem to have as much impact on value in Anne Arundel County as it does in most other counties.  That’s not to say it doesn’t have any impact, its impact is just tempered by other variables.

 

Schools - What school district a given property is in has a huge impact on value.  Customers are willing to pay a premium to be in the Severna Park, South Rivera or Broadneck high school service areas which in turn increases the land value for lots or subdivisions capable of servicing this need. Land that is serviced by the top schools is substantially more valuable than land that services lesser schools in Anne Arundel County.  The problem is school capacity.  Many of the top schools are at their maximum seating capacity as determined by the county school board which releases a capacity chart each July.  If any school – elementary, middle or high is over capacity, then a potential subdivision is unable to proceed through the subdivision process until capacity is restored or six years, which is ever sooner.  This means to the average landowner your land may take many years to go to settlement if your property is encumbered by a school moratorium. This is not to say that there aren’t seats available in the schools throughout the county, many schools are actually significantly under capacity, but woe to the government official who suggest moving kids from overcrowded schools to less crowded ones.    

 

 

 

 

Zoning – Anne Arundel County uses a pretty straightward zoning classification system for residentially zoned land. Agriculturally zoned land which is all of the county beginning around Crownsville and extending south to Calvert County permits one house per twenty acres. R-1 permits one house per 40,000 square feet unless it is on septic in which case an additional “septic reserve area” of 40,000 square feet for each lot.  R-2 permits one house per 20,000 square feet or two single family houses per acre.  R-5 permits townhouses at a density of

 

Water Frontage & Access – Anne Arundel County from Bayberry to Galesville has more waterfront property than almost any other county in the United States. Because Anne Arundel County is serviced by several major highway networks it has become very desirable for folks working in both the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan areas. 

 


Seven Factors that Affect Residential Land Values in Baltimore County

If you have land for sale in Baltimore County, you may be surprised at what your land is worth for residential development. While there are many factors that determine the value of any given parcel of land in Baltimore County or elsewhere, here are a few variables that contribute to the value of your property. For a more detailed, no-obligation opinion of value of your land located anywhere in the state of Maryland, please contact Stephen Ferrandi at 410-925-4566.

  1. URDL—The value of your property has everything to do with its location inside or outside the Urban Rural Demarcation Line or URDL. The URDL is a ring that snakes throughout the outer suburbs of Baltimore County. It was was created by the planning and zoning folks in 1967, and it forms the backbone of Baltimore County’s master plan for development. The county created the URDL as a means to direct development to areas with convenient access to infrastructure and public utilities. The end result is that the urban land inside the URDL can be more densely development than rural land. Bottom line: land that can be more densely developed is worth more money.
  2. Zoning—Baltimore County, like many other Maryland counties, has a county specific zoning classification for all of the land contained within its borders. Properties approved for residential development and located within the URDL line receive a classification beginning with the letters DR (Density Residential) and then a number, which signifies how many density units that property can support per acre. Land zoned for low-density development will be classified as DR-1, which permits one single-family house per 40,000 square feet of land area. A property zoned DR-2 allows for development at a density of one single-family house per 20,000 square feet of land area. A parcel of land zoned DR-3.5 allows for single family houses to be built at a density of up to 3.5 homes per acre (43,560 square feet). If your property is zoned DR-5.5, then your land is allowed to be developed with single-family attached units (townhomes), built at a density of 5.5 townhouses per acre. There are few vacant parcels of land remaining of land zoned DR-10.5 or DR-16, but if your property is zoned with this classification, then your zoning allows for the development of multi-family housing on your land. A very rare zoning classification is that of RAE. RAE-1 and RAE-2 stand for Residential Apartment Elevator 1 permitting 40 units per acre, and RAE-2 permitting 80 units per acre. If you find that you have this zoning classification, please call me immediately and then call your travel agent to book a luxury tour around the globe. Your property is as valuable as a Mega Ball winning lottery ticket.
  3. Zip Code—Let’s face it: most people of a certain social or educational station want to live with others they perceive to be like them. I teach classes to graduate students and real estate investors, and I have always found that the following example brings this point home. If your rich uncle died and left you a fortune of $20 million in cash, where do you build your new eight bedroom house with the basement movie theater and the indoor putting green? Do you build such a house in Arbutus 21227 or Dundalk 21222? Or are you more likely to build in Baldwin 21013, Stevenson 21053, or Upperco 21120. Unless you are tied to living in a specific zip code, you will be building such a house in areas where other wealthy people live. Zip codes are important to residential homebuilders for the same reasons. People judge areas by their zip code. When residential agents say that value is determined by location, location, location what that translates to when it comes to your land is zip code, zip code, zip code.
  4. Schools—Another key factor in determining land values is which schools (elementary, middle, and high) serve the property. If your property is served by Millford Mill Academy, Overlea High, Kenwood High, or Woodlawn High—all ranked in the bottom third of high schools in Baltimore County—your property will be less valuable than if your property were served by Pikesville High, Franklin High, or George Washington Carver High—all ranked in the top third. If a home buyer is going to spend $500,000 to purchase a new home, that consumer is going to be discriminating as to where they buy; and schools always prove to be one of the key factors. Consequently, homebuilders build the more expensive houses where the best ranked schools are located. Builders will pay more for property in good school districts. <
  5. Public Utilities—As discussed in the paragraphs on zoning and URDL, the fact that your property is served by public utilities or not is a strong determinant as to what value your land has. The more houses per acre a developer can lay out on your property, the more dollars per acre your property is worth. Since zoning allows for intense development only on land served by public utilities, access to public water and sewer has a direct impact as to the value of your land.
  6. Crime—Not surprisingly, zip code desirability and school ranking tend to be tied into the crime rate, whether perceived or real for a given community. If your property is located in an area that has a high crime rate, then builders will see that they can build only lower-priced houses, and the value of your land is lower than if your land was located in an area with no crime issues.
  7. Other New Homes Communities—Home builders who build in an area that proves to be successful want to build other communities in that same area. The success of one project tends to attract other homebuilders who want to build in the same neighbor or community. If you have vacant land in an area where a homebuilder as recently discovered success, your property is worth more to the homebuilder community than land in an area where builders may be more cautious in their pricing of the houses and valuation of what they feel land is worth.

To view more detailed map of Baltimore County Growth Tier, please click here.

Still have questions on property valuation in Baltimore County? Email me at stephen@MarylandLand.com.


Market Overview - What happened in 2013

Market Over - What Happened in 2013  edit

Market Overview - What happened in 2013

The Residential Land Market Metropolitan Baltimore/Washington in recovery if your selling lots, not so much if all you have is un-entitled dirt. 

The residential land market in the greater Washington-Baltimore area showed signs of recovery in the spring, as national homebuilders, such as Lennar, Richmond American, and NVR, loaded up on inventory of engineered and finished lots.  The first phase of this land grab actually began in 2011, as a number of builders started purchasing defaulted subdivisions from area lenders such, as M&T and PNC.  Once all of the low hanging fruit had been acquired for pennies on the dollar, builders began to seek new opportunities from land developers and smaller homebuilders who had projects that they had shelved during the Great Recession.  Much of the builder activity we saw is 2013 resulted from the acquisition projects that had finally obtained record plat or had been previously-stalled projects.

Raw unimproved land is still proving to be difficult to sell outside of Montgomery, Howard, and Anne Arundel Counties.  Many nationals have not ramped up their land development departments to pre-recession staffing and are simply not able to handle the in-house processing of more than a handful of unentitled land projects.  In an effort to continue to feed the pipeline, the nationals and many smaller homebuilders are turning to local land development firms to do the “dirty” work for them.   However, the challenge that land development firms are experiencing is a lack of working capital.  So many of the developer-friendly community banks, such as Key Bank, Bradford Federal, Bank of Annapolis, and Carrollton Bank, have been acquired in the last several years by larger banks.  Because the larger banks have been burned by bad land loans, they are disinclined to lend to developers with the same generous approach that the smaller banks had historically adopted for their long-term, valued clients.   

Looking for new funding sources, many local developers are partnering with high-net-worth individuals or entering into joint ventures with venture capital groups.  While the new funding sources help solve the problem of a lack of working capital, the also create a new obstacle:  for assuming the risk, the sources also take a huge bite out of the developer’s profit. 

While the overall lack of funding has opened up opportunities for cash-ready investors, it also continues to suppress raw land values:  There is still a substantial number of would-be buyers forced to remain on the sidelines for lack of working capital – traditional or otherwise – thus land continues to remain unsold, which keeps prices from increasing.  

In addition to many buyers sitting out the season, lower land values on all but the best parcels have kept many potential sellers (some of whom are still wearing pre-recession beer googles) inclined to remain on the sidelines, waiting for land values to rise.  With potential land sellers continuing to hold their properties, autumn 2013 offered a palpable slowing in the land market:  With much of the existing inventory under contract and builders disinclined to purchase raw land, the land acquisition managers were unsure as to what they should buy for 2014 and beyond.

As for our land practice, we found that 2013 was a time to prepare for 2014.  All of the deals that settled this year were deals that we began in years prior.  We have continued to work with landowners who are preparing to sell by assisting them in taking their land through the subdivision process as a way to help them unlock value.  We continue to market our services to landowners considering selling their landholdings throughout Maryland.   


Smaller builders feel the squeeze

June 24, 2001|By Robert Nusgart | By Robert Nusgart, SUN REAL ESTATE EDITOR

Stephen J. Ferrandi is in an enviable position: He's got the gold - and he knows it.

The gold in this case are the large land parcels the real estate agent is selling for 25 clients.

Typically, his clients are farmers who are selling land that's been in their families for generations.

And its Ferrandi's job in the Columbia office of KLNB Inc., a commercial real estate brokerage, to find a developer with the deepest pockets possible.

But in an era of high builder demand and short land supply, even Ferrandi has trouble comprehending the dollars being thrown at ever scarcer properties suitable for housing developments.

"I come in, do my analysis, do my spreadsheets and do what I need to do," Ferrandi said, figuring "this property should go for `X,' and 90 percent of the bidders are right where I thought it should be.

"But there are 10 percent of the people who are double that. And you say, `How can that be?' But you see it all the time."

Dwindling supplies of land are bringing top dollar. And national publicly traded companies are now using their financial muscle to buy land, squeezing out local builders and developers.

The mega-builders, who complete thousands of homes nationally, are even willing to take a loss on the land because they can make a profit in constructing a home or in offering mortgages and title searches.

"In the last two or three years, I have just seen this unbelievable thirst for land," Ferrandi said. "The publicly traded companies, they have to feed the machine. And they are gobbling up as many lots as they can take down.

"And it is forming some really interesting dynamics, one of which is that independent land developers, who used to do small-lot infill subdivisions, can't compete in the marketplace anymore. They absolutely cannot compete in the marketplace.

"If you have what they are looking for, the national homebuilders will throw money at the property."

During the last five years, most builders and developers acknowledge, there has been a squeeze in the amount of land in the Baltimore metropolitan area available for development.

The scarcity is blamed in part on land-use policies that limit the amount of land available for development. These include smart- and slow-growth regulations and preservation of agricultural land.

The scarcity also is being caused by a boom in the real estate market caused by a healthy state economy and low mortgage rates.

Buyers in the last three years have seen prices for new homes - single-family, townhouse or condominium - spiral upward as demand outstripped supply.

Although sales of new homes in the Baltimore metro area for the first quarter are down 19 percent from the corresponding period last year, builders aren't fazed. If they had more homes to sell, the sales statistics would be high.

"I still see it as a strong market that is just plagued by availability problems," said Anna Pitheon, a consultant for the Meyers Group, a Washington firm that tracks and analyzes new-home sales.

"If sales were stronger in Baltimore and Howard counties, compared with where they were three years ago, the market wouldn't be trading down, it would actually be increasing."

The gradual narrowing of the land pipeline can be seen in the decline in the number of new housing developments.

According to the Meyers Group, there are 309 housing developments for buyers to visit in the Baltimore metro area, down from 420 at the end of the first quarter of 2000, a 26 percent drop. It's even more significant when comparing it with 1998, when there were 494 such communities, a 37 percent decline.

High deposit demanded

In less hectic times, builders could purchase land on what is called a "take-down schedule." After putting down a small deposit on the land, a buyer would work out a house-building schedule with a developer, perhaps building only three or four homes, to minimize the risk.

"Five years ago, we would put up a very minimum deposit and we would purchase a model lot, and on a quarterly basis a minimum number of lots would have to be purchased to maintain your option," said Rick Kunkle, president of Patriot Homes in Howard County.

"Now, the deposit requirements have increased significantly, so you might have to put up 5 percent or 10 percent of the purchase price, and secondly, we might have to buy 10 lots up front instead of one."

Ferrandi, the real estate agent who represents sellers of large land parcels, said that if a builder wants to take out an option on the land, he expects him to pay a nonrefundable cash deposit equal to 10 percent of the total purchase - a demand he couldn't have made five years ago. At settlement, the builder pays the remaining 90 percent.

"Right now there is just demand and supply forces in effect, and the supply will not equal the demand," Kunkle said.

"Traditionally, for every 1.3 new jobs created, whether it is Maryland, or a particular county, there has been one new house built.

"Maryland continues to attract new businesses, and the job growth has been very good, very steady. And we are now looking, however, at a much higher ratio so that we only have one house [built] for every three new jobs created, and it seems to be going to four.

"Those are the kinds of numbers that we are looking at. So starting with the farmer or the landowner or the developer and all the way down to the builder, the supply of lots will not meet the demand. And that is what's happened."

Consequently, it is easy to see why the alarms are going off at the national companies and forcing smaller builders and developers to rethink their business.

Is the price right?

David Altfeld, co-owner of the Southern Land Co., has developed thousands of "raw" lots for builders in the Baltimore area in the last 17 years. But now he's noticed that public companies are making it harder for him to compete.

"The national homebuilders, the players in the market with the muscle, have stepped it up," Altfeld said. "And I guess the major difference between now and the past [is that] they are ready, willing and able to buy land at any stage of the game. We've never seen that before. They are calling us in, making us offers to buy our land at any stage. That means that they are chasing raw land.

"They are putting down big deposits, and they are being extremely aggressive on their pricing."

Fritzi Hallock, who manages her own builder consulting company, MarketSmart, said: "I can tell you that the national builders are waving 50 percent more money, 60 percent more, 70 percent more, 100 percent more money. There are huge premiums.

"Any time a parcel of land is put out for bid, on a competitive basis, [my clients] are not even losing closely, they are losing by a significant margin to national builders, who are public companies, who can buy land much more aggressively."

To value land prices, Ferrandi traditionally uses a basic formula.

Valuation formula changes

Take the selling price of the least expensive house in a development, divide that by a third, and that is what a "finished" lot - a lot that is ready for home construction - would approximately be worth. Next, divide that number by a third again and that is "what the raw land to the farmer was worth," Ferrandi said.

For example, if a builder thought the least expensive base price of a home for a parcel he was considering was $210,000, then his land cost would be $70,000. For the developer, purchasing the parcel from the farmer, the price would be about $23,300.

Ferrandi - and others - say that the national builders, "needing to feed the machine," have for the most part thrown that formula out the window.

"The strange phenomenon that we are seeing is that from one national [company] to another, [bids] are pretty comparable," Ferrandi said. "It's when you try to compare a Toll Brothers offer or a Ryland [both national companies] offer to an offer from Chateau Builders [a local firm] that the numbers really looked skewed."

Bob Lucido is president of Builders 1st Choice, a Columbia company that assists dozens of small- and medium-sized builders in the mid-Atlantic region with their marketing and sales strategy, and he has seen the run-up first-hand.

"There was a piece on Route 99, in Ellicott City. The developer put it up for auction," Lucido said. "The highest bidder was Ryland Homes. They came in with a ridiculous price, and they paid them huge dollars. They put up a big deposit, and individual people can't match those.

"For an undeveloped half-acre lot, I think it was close to $100,000, and everybody else bid $80,000 and $85,000, so they were 20 percent above what everybody else paid."

The development in question is the Preserve at Mount Hebron, where Ryland is selling 68 homes on third- or quarter-acre lots with prices beginning at $379,000.

Earl Robinson, marketing and sales manager for the Baltimore division of Ryland Homes, agrees that the company is paying more for land, but also says the company still maintains a "50-50 or 60-40" balance between purchasing raw land and finished lots.

"But in a market as strong as this, we're more apt to buy land raw," he said. "We are not going to let a piece go because it needs to be developed."

There are other examples.

A 24-acre property off of New Cut Road in Glen Burnie brought offers that ranged from a local developer's $950,000 to $4.96 million from a national builder.

Ferrandi said a farm he was representing in Anne Arundel County got bids of $11,000 per lot to a high bid of $40,000 from Ryland.

But Beazer Homes, another national builder, was selected with a slightly lower price because it was willing to put up a nonrefundable cash deposit.

In December, the 77-acre Mount Joy Farm, the last large undeveloped parcel zoned for development in Howard County, was purchased for about $12 million by Winchester Homes, Ferrandi recalled.

"Everyone just threw money at [the deal]," Ferrandi said. "We looked at it and said it was probably a $9 [million] or $10 million transaction. It went with a $1 million deposit. ... Winchester threw money at the deal as did every other national homebuilder [and the] locals pretty much got blown out of the water instantly."

Said Lucido: "What the nationals do is go in and say, `Look, everybody else is giving you $85,000 [a lot]. We'll give you $100,000 and a $1 million deposit.' The little guys are like, `How bad do I want this piece of property?' "

Pricing out ofhand

Lawrence I. Rosenberg, president of the Mark Building Co., a medium-sized builder in Owings Mills that has built a reputation of providing good value, doesn't admit to being blown out of the water, but says pricing has gotten out of hand.

At Beaverbrook, a luxury development in Worthington Valley, Rosenberg was the first to build in the development, but was quickly followed by a national company, NVHomes.

"When we bought those lots, the nationals hadn't come in," Rosenberg said. "NVHomes bought two other sections of Beaverbrook and paid more money and took all the lots at one time.

"What happened is that NV would go in and build a house that was less expensive than what we were building, [and doing it] on a more expensive lot, or an equally expensive lot, for less money just to keep the wheels in motion.

"When we first started in there the land was around $135,000 a lot, and they paid $155,000, and the price of the house was less than what our base price was. And I can't understand how they can do that. Those are real dollars."

Big builder is watching

So how are the nationals able to throw all that money around?

The answer is threefold.

First, they are flush with cash. The publicly held national building companies have seen their profits grow tremendously in the last five years.

For instance, NVR Inc., the parent for NVHomes and Ryan Homes, showed a net profit of $158.2 million at the end of 2000, compared with $28.8 million in 1997. Pulte Homes Inc. finished 2000 showing a profit of $188.5 million, compared with $52.7 million in 1997, and Ryland Homes' profit increased from $21.8 million in 1997 to $88.2 million at the end of last year.

Second, they are willing to eliminate the independent land developer and buy and develop raw land. They also are willing to shepherd the projects through the government approval process and finish the lots themselves.

And finally, they are willing to take a loss or no profit on a development in hopes of making it up by constructing the homes themselves and through their mortgage and title operations.

"They [nationals] tend to buy stuff to keep everything moving," said Lucido of Builders 1st Choice, who has started a company just to help his clients purchase land. "They are not as prudent as an individual entrepreneur.

"The people who are buying the ground are not risk-takers and entrepreneurs. It is not their money. Whereas a private individual can lose their house, their cars, everything if they make the wrong decision. They have to have enough cushion in there to make sure that it is the right decision.

"Also, an entrepreneur is not going to work on a 2, 3 or 4 percent [profit] margin. If they can't go in there and make decent margins, they are not really going to do it. The nationals will go in because they have a mortgage and title company, they'll make less on the house, knowing that they'll get it on their ancillary business.

"Even if they don't, they sell so many houses, if they just made $1,000 or $5,000 on 5,000 houses, they'll make a lot of money."

Off the radar screen

So is the small builder or developer an endangered species?

Not yet, but for the builder who is thinking about the big picture, the future is ominous.

"Assuming that the smaller builder is not ready to pack their bag and head to the Carolinas, I think that the smaller builder has to be prepared to spend a lot more time and work a lot harder at assembling small parcels, because that is really all that is left," said Altfeld of the Southern Land Co.

Rick Kunkle of Patriot Homes says he once hunted for land himself. Now he has added a full-time land acquisition manager and says that the company is building in places - such as Northern Virginia - where it has never gone before.

A longer drive

Rosenberg used to have a rule that Mark Building Co. wouldn't build outside a 30-minute drive of its Owings Mills offices. Now, it's a 60-minute drive.

He also believes companies such as his must go places where the nationals either haven't discovered or don't want to go because a location doesn't fit their parameters.

"What the medium-sized builder or a niche builder needs to do is to identify locations and opportunities that are off the radar screen, that haven't appeared on the radar screen of the national builders," Rosenberg said.

"National builders typically have a certain criteria, a threshold in which these projects have to fit into. And if they don't, they don't end up on their radar screen. It's imperative for the medium builder to look at the opportunities that the national builder won't."

One such opportunity for Rosenberg is WaterView, a single-family home development priced in the $150,000 range to be built in the Riverdale community in Middle River on the old site of the Village of Tall Trees apartments.

`He's out of business'

"The builder who is focused on land will still make money and survive," Lucido said. "But if he ... worries about plywood and worries about subcontractors ... he's out of business. He's got to be spending most of his time with land. It's a land game, not a building game."

Ferrandi of KLNB takes a broader view of what may be down the road

"I definitely see land developers leaving this market and looking for other markets, because you can't make your return on investment here." he said.

But he also predicted the nationals would move on. " ... You will see the national homebuilders starting to retreat from this market into more aggressive markets, where there is more land and better prices to be had.

"They may be going down to the Eastern Shore or to Southern Maryland or they may just be leaving the Baltimore metropolitan area completely."





What would Clint Eastwood say?

On the wall in my home office hangs a Somerset Tribune news article from 1940 stating the terms and dates of an agricultural sale to occur in the West Princess Anne area. I don’t know the outcome of the sale other than I know the family did trade the land and equipment that day and did not stay in the agricultural business. It is interesting to consider the reasons and circumstance behind the family’s decision to sell the farms and equipment and even more interesting to consider the opportunities that continuing to farm the land might have created for that family.

There are a myriad of economic forces that drive agriculture today and much like the decisions that family faced in 1940, families today face similar challenges as agriculture continues to become more and more competitive. Recently, someone called what I do the “land wars” which seems accurate because at times being a Land Broker feels like a contact sport. It is my understanding there may even be a movie coming out soon about farming and the struggle to keep the farm in the family. I somehow picture Clint Eastwood standing on the edge of a field stating a strong well phrased one liner that stops the banker cold in his tracks as he attempts to serve the farmer with a foreclosure document. Clearly, that could be entertaining!

While Hollywood may sensationalize today’s farming industry into a box office hit, the challenges for farming today are not without real drama and the stakes are high for farmers to keep or purchase every acre they can manage. It is an oversimplified statement to say farming is about scalability but it is an economic force driving the fundamentals of the profits and long term sustainability of producers in the business. To increase scalability you must either improve the land you farm, the equipment you own, or the efficiency of your farm operation.

While improvements of production and efficiency have been a cornerstone for producers to meet the food demands of recent decades, new challenges lie ahead as demand for food increases dramatically in many parts of world. To meet this demand production agriculture is ramping up and farm families are working to grow their farms.

The financial principals of modern farming for big agribusiness producers are equal for small farm families to compete as consolidation of farmland and agricultural input costs continue to drive the profitability of farming. This is a function of scalability and daily I speak with farmers seeking to increase the scale of their operation.

One of the best translations of the process of increasing scalability is what I see as generational farming. I have been fortunate to work with many farmers working to support their sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. This is perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of my work in understanding this important motivational factor of a farmer buying additional ground to ensure his families future in farming. It sometimes can be quite emotional as we hunt and peck for land around the existing operation or move into another county away from their home operation.

Farmers understand the importance of scalability and they recognize that it is going to take more than what they grew up farming to compete, remain profitable and thrive in the competitive agricultural sector in coming years. I consider this fact each time I sit down with a farmer and I work to understand what their needs are and how I can best help them accomplish their goals.

The family that placed that ad in the Somerset Tribute in 1940 was my own family, and it would have been an amazing opportunity to have been a part of their discussion; perhaps I would have been a helpful voice in keeping the farm and staying in agriculture. Clearly, that was not meant to be and perhaps this history in my family has helped me understand the difficulties in the farm business and hold great respect for the families that work each day to feed other people.