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How To Assess Farmland for Sale

This article describes how to assess farmland based on barns and existing out buildings. More articles on GoodByeCityLife’s Country Living explore other attributes used in assessing farms.

You don’t have to shop around for a farm very long before learning to assess farm for sale and current market values.

Abandoned farm land – in and of itself – is far cheaper than buying land that has been worked in the last 3-5 years and is not overgrown.

Add a farm house to your little plot of country land and the value increases again – no matter how run down or tiny that farm house may be.

The price may seem unrealistic if you’re coming from the city or suburbs to spend so much more on a small farm house, but it all makes sense when you consider that at one time there was a septic, well, hydro, etc. (which is all easier to restore than to install from scratch).

Red Barn

On the other hand – if you’re shopping for a full-blown working farm where money is not a major concern, get the best your budget will afford and you won’t feel out of place on your new farm.

How to assess farmland that is complete with a modern home, outbuildings and a barn or two? These sales are harder to assess due to so many more variables, so take your time before you submit that offer to purchase.

How To Assess Farmland That Is A Working Farm with Outbuildings

Unless you’ve done this before or have been shopping for a while, it is a daunting task to estimate the value of a country property.

You could ask your agent for their opinion, but please remember that real estate agents may have their own agenda – to get you to spend as much as possible and increase their final commission on the sale.

Furthermore, if you are asking an agent to assist you in a preliminary assessment, choose one that knows the market well for the area you are considering.

In Canada and the USA, the best alternative is to hire a property evaluator. Professionals without hidden agendas.

These certified professionals are trained regularly and adhere to a strict code of ethics. Many factors go into their evaluation – size, age and condition of the property and existing buildings – as well as current market value and recent sales in the neighboring region. You will receive a complete report, including fair market value, on each property you have commissioned an evaluator to assess.

At any rate, if you’re applying for a mortgage or loan for your farm, your lender or bank may request that you present this document as one of the conditions of financing. Hint: Look for a bank or lender that will roll the cost of that assessment into your loan amount or cover the cost for you).

Farm, Barn, and Existing Buildings on the Property

Attempting to evaluate and assessing a farm for sale on your own?

Consider each out building carefully. Will it last? Should it be rebuilt? Restructured? Roofed? Will it suit your needs for the type of farming you want to perform or livestock you need to house?

Remember too, that all barns aren’t created equal. Some are better suited to horses, others to goats, and an entire different set of criteria exists for cattle. Furthermore if you are planning on raising livestock for sale there may be legal or agricultural conditions you need to adhere to – your barn needs to match your mission!

Excellent barns have ample space for off-season hay storage. Look also for good ‘bones’ – modifications and upgrades will be less costly and difficult for each type of animal you may choose to keep.

Building Types to Assess:

  • Farm Home
  • Barn or Barns
  • Garden Shed, Tool Shed, Machinery
  • Garage
  • Privy
  • Chicken Coop and Run
  • Pig Pen

Factors to Consider:

  • size of building
  • privacy
  • vehicular access
  • access and proximity of water to barn
  • previous maintenance
  • current condition
  • position (facing south is best for heating and cooling)
  • storm windows and screens
  • wood rot – look both inside and out, all floors
  • termite or carpenter ant infestation
  • age of water heater in house
  • size of water heater in house (family of 4 = 30 gallons if gas, 50 if electric)
  • age of home heating system
  • cost of heating per year
  • stains on ceiling (leaky roof)
  • stains on basement walls (flooding)
  • electrical service capacity

Hiring A Professional to Assess Farm and Barn

Hiring a House Inspector or Building Engineer can give you some valuable information on the age and condition of the buildings on the property.

Their report may afford you an easier night’s rest, save you from a poor investment, or present you with a powerful bargaining tool for negotiation with the current owner. An assessment by a professional may also be necessary for your mortgage lender.

About Laura Childs

Country Living enthusiast Laura Childs was a downtown city girl for many years before heading to the hills to live a sustainable lifestyle, raise her daughter, get back to the land, and learn the time tested traditions of a simpler era. Throughout her farm life adventures of raising animals, working from home, home schooling her daughter, and being more green, Laura Childs has been sharing on the GoodByeCityLife website through articles and personal musings since 1998.


  1. I am A Realtor and it is not my job to get as much commission as possible it is my job to help my client and that is why I came to this website. Wow, either you have it all wrong or there are a lot of bad agents out there.

  2. I ‘hear’ you Lori. I am going to change the wording to: “You could ask your agent for their opinion, but please remember that real estate agents *may* have their own agenda – to get you to spend as much as possible and increase their final commission on the sale.”

    I have worked with some real cut throat agents in the past that only care about the final commission. This post was written about 9 years ago and I was working with a real money gruber whom I thought was looking out for my best interest. I have learned to look for good agents, ethical agents, and thankfully I have found two that I now trust to share information and knowledge with me.

    You sound like you’re of the same ilk. Thank you for posting your comment and reminding me that not all agents are alike.