Bid for More Business - Online auctions are opening up vast opportunities for buyers and their agents.

Real estate auctions aren’t just for ugly foreclosures that banks are desperate to get off their books. Real estate practitioners are helping first-time buyers and trade-up home sellers find success as they belly up to the bidding table in low-inventory markets.

Private-owner auction sales edged out lender REOs as the most popular type of auction in 2012, according to, though the company declined to provide specific figures. The allure of potentially selling a home more quickly than a traditional listing allows—and possibly at a higher price—makes auctions an attractive option for sellers. And buyers are finding more opportunities to bid on great deals.

Other real estate auction sites are responding to the demand for private-owner sales as well., for example, launched its division of nondistressed home sales a year ago, and since then it has sold 140 homes totaling $72 million in sales, says Senior Vice President Jennifer Leuer. “A lot of equity home owners are in’s inventory,” Leuer says. “The number of people who are organically calling us has increased exponentially.”

One of’s recent success stories was the auction of a 93-year-old man’s seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom beachfront estate in Corona del Mar, Calif. The home went for $5.3 million—$1.8 million higher than the opening bid of $3.5 million.

Because auctions are increasingly going online, real estate professionals can potentially find significant business opportunities there, says Troy Watts, owner of Little Bull Auction & Sales Co. with several offices in Kansas, the heartland and home of all kinds of Auctions.  During the "Great Recession", we helped banks manage auctions of their distressed properties. “People have become more comfortable with buying and selling at auction,” Watts says. “The buyers of tomorrow are going to be just as comfortable making an offer on a piece of land or house they’ve never seen or maybe just driven by.”

The immediacy of auctions is a draw for many sellers and buyers, says Melissa Davis, an auctioneer in Indianapolis. Because buyers must be pre-approved and homes sell the day of the auction, the transaction process is considerably streamlined. “It only takes three to four weeks to properly market a home and 30 days to close—or sooner if a buyer is paying cash,” Davis says. “The process is much faster than taking a chance by listing the property and waiting for a buyer.” Because of the shorter timelines, agents can sell properties more frequently and stand to make more money in a shorter period of time, she adds. Neither buyers nor their agents are required to attend a live auction to participate.

While the advantages are compelling, Watts notes a possible drawback: Many auctioneers—who operate independently from agents and require their own licenses—have authority over how properties up for auction are listed and marketed. That means the agent has to “give up some control over the listing,” he says. For example, an auction house may decide that a property can be listed only on its own Web site, which limits the number of potential -buyers.

Still, practitioners play similar roles with auctions as they do with traditional listings, Leuer says. When representing buyers (sellers are usually represented by an agent from the auction house), they provide expert local knowledge and earn a commission. Here’s how such buyer’s agents typically get paid: The seller will offer to pay the buyer’s agent a commission—usually up to 3 percent—or the auction house will pay the buyer’s agent a cut of the so-called “buyer’s premium.” A buyer’s premium is a percentage of the sale price—from 5 to 10 percent—that is added to the winning bid. It’s paid by the buyer; the auction house determines the buyer’s agent’s share and uses the fee to cover marketing costs. Some smaller auction companies or individual auctioneers charge the seller a separate marketing fee. “It’s not a distressed market anymore,” says Peter Muoio, head of’s research division. “As the overall market improves, so will the sentiment that auctions are a good buy.” 

Grab the Auction Opportunity - No Longer A Last Resort
Auction Properties, Ltd.
Portland, ME

Across the country, real estate professionals are increasingly turning to the auction as a winning marketing tool. If you properly qualify your situation as a potential auction scenario (we’ll tell you how), you have an excellent chance at turning over a property quickly.

Auctions offer clients and customers new options, enhance your image as a full-service professional, expose the property to a wide market of potential buyers, and turn profits for your firm. Plenty of revenue-producing roles are available in the auction process. You don’t have to become an auctioneer to benefit. You can earn a fee as a referring agent/broker, a cooperating agent or a listing agent. However you participate, you’ll add one more marketing weapon to your reserves of professional techniques.

The Two-Thirds Rule
Not all properties should be sold at auction, but certain properties and situations will benefit greatly. A dependable way to determine whether a property lends itself to auction is this: If two of the three main components of a transaction (market, the seller and the property) lean favorably toward auction, then it should be offered to a seller as a sales option.

Here’s a checklist to figure out if the Two-Thirds Rule applies to the property you are handling:

Do these characteristics describe the market?
· a changing market
· a dull market -- too much product but with buyer interest
· not enough of the particular property type (unique, lake front, etc.)
· an emerging market -- for example, a new development whose sales could take off once some properties are auctioned
· a seller’s market with high demand and high competition

Do these characteristics describe the seller?
· needs immediate cash
· going through a partnership or marriage break-up
· is moving out of state
· wants to liquidate an estate
· is retiring
· is an auction-minded seller
· has a listing that is about to expire
· has already purchased another house
· knows auction will bring a fair market price
· has financial problems
· has high carrying costs on the property

Do these characteristics describe the property?
· carries a lot of equity (25% or more)
· unique -- enough market interest to encourage competition
· burdening the owner with high carrying costs
· vacant -- vacant properties may encourage vandalism
· difficult to appraise -- unique properties are difficult to appraise

What Properties Are Suited for Auction?

Q. What properties are suitable for Auction?
A. Most properties are salable by auction. All types of real estate, including residential property (e.g., town homes, condominiums, cooperative apartments and single-family homes), commercial and industrial property, vacant land and even boat slips are sold at auction. Not all property, however, is suited for auction. If a property will only appeal to a narrow market, auction may not be the most effective marketing method.

An Auction Self-Test: The Two-Thirds Rule
One method to determine if auction is the best marketing strategy is the Two-Thirds Rule. This involves analysis of the market, property and seller situation. Generally, if two of the three parts (market, seller, property) lean towards auction, then auction should be offered to the seller as a sales option.

Market (Buyers) --  A good auction situation is one where the market is:

A changing market
A dull market; too much product but buyer interest is expressed
Not enough of the property type (unique, lake front, etc.)
An emerging market -- new developments could kick off a sales program, once some of the properties were auctioned
A seller's market where there is known high demand and a lot of competition can take place

Seller -- A good auction situation is one where the seller:
Needs immediate cash
Has a partnership or marriage break-up
Is moving out of the state
Wants to liquidate an estate
Is retiring
Is an auction-minded seller
Has a listing that is about to expire
Has already purchased another house
Knows the auction will bring a fair market price
Has financial problems
Has high carrying costs on the property

Property -- A good auction property is one that:
Has a lot of equity (25 percent or more)
Is unique -- there is enough buyer/market interest to encourage competition (unique properties are difficult to appraise)
Has a lot of high carrying costs for the owner
Is vacant -- vacant properties may encourage vandalism
Is difficult to appraise

What Factors Impact the Success of a Real Estate Auction?
Auctions Are Often Thought of as "Fire Sales" For Properties in Distress. Is this True?

Until recently, real estate auctions, unlike art and antique auctions, have experienced unfounded negative images in the marketplace. The majority of auctions today don't result from foreclosure of distress situations, but rather are the result of a seller choosing a cost-effective, accelerate method to sell a property. Builders or financial institutions, for example, prefer auction rather than laboring for months or years to sell units of a development one by one. Auction allows the seller to eliminate virtually all long-term carrying costs, passing the savings directly to the purchaser in the form of a reduced price. Auction is truly a win-win situation: sellers obtain immediate cash and buyers purchase properties at fair market value, the price determined by open, competitive bidding.

What Factors Impact the Success of an Auction?
1. The seller must have realistic expectations, including a fair sales price, terms and timing.
2. The desirability of the property. This includes location, conditions, plus the value of surrounding properties.
3. Since a variety of auction methods are available, carefully choose the auction type that best suits the property and the seller's needs.
4. A well planned, aggressive marketing/advertising campaign targeted to prospective purchasers is critical to an auction's success.
5. Using a recognized real estate auction company or a REALTOR® auctioneer to ensure the auction is conducted in a professional manner and followed-up through closing.
6. Making sure that due diligence information is provided to prospective buyers AHEAD OF TIME.
7. Preparing the property for sale so it is presented to prospects in its best condition. (i.e.., title insurance, clean-up, financing, etc...)

Types of Auctions

Q. What are the different types of Real Estate Auctions available to me?
A. Essentially there are three types of auctions:

1. Absolute Auction (or auction without reserve)
1. The property is sold to the highest bidder, regardless of the price.
2. Since a sale is guaranteed, buyer excitement and participation are heightened.
3. Generates maximum response from the market place.
4. Many sellers, including financial institutions and government agencies have begun to use this method more frequently.

2. Minimum Bid Auction
1. The auctioneer will accept bids at or above a published minimum price. This minimum price is always stated in the brochure and advertisements and is announced at the auction.
2. Reduced risk for seller as the sales price must be above a minimum acceptable level.
3. Buyers know they will be able to buy at or above the minimum.
4. The seller may, however, limit interest in the auction to only those buyers willing to pay the minimum bid price, and therefore it must be low enough to act as an inducement rather than a hindrance.

3. Reserve Auction (an auction subject to Confirmation)
In this scenario, the high bid is reduced, in effect to an offer not a sale. A minimum bid is not published, and the seller reserves the right to accept or reject the highest bid within a specified time -- anywhere from immediately following the auction up to 72 hours after the auction concludes. Sellers predetermine the price at which the property will be sold and are not obligated to confirm a sale other than at a price that is entirely acceptable to them. The main disadvantage of a Reserve Auction is that prospective buyers may not invest the time and expense of due diligence when there is no certainty they will be able to buy the property even if they are the highest bidder.

Are Investors Buying Farmland? 

As a farmland and recreational land real estate brokerage we get the question often, “are investors buying land?” The answer is, yes they certainly are! In fact, from our last 11 farmland auctions 7 different investors were last to raise their hand prior to the hammer drop and the farm being sold. 

With that being said, usually the follow up question is, why are investors buying farmland right now? There isn’t one good answer why investors are buying farmland but there are several different reasons why investors are seeing farmland as a good investment. 

 Below are reasons why investors are being triggered to buy farmland

  •  Unstable Stock Market - It seems the number one reason investors are buying farmland more today than before is our unstable stock market. It’s one thing to have an unstable stock market but it’s another thing to have an unstable stock market while it’s touching record highs. There are a lot of uncertainties in the market and investors don’t want to leave all their eggs in one basket. Farmland has backed off from it’s all time high in 2012 roughly 19% – 23% across the state of Iowa. Investors know eventually land prices will peak again and it’s one asset if bought with cash they know they’re guaranteed 1.8% – 4% ROI through annual farm income.

  •  Most Farmers Are Short On Cash Or Are They Really? - It’s all people talk about in rural Iowa, farmers are not making money. It’s not only people in rural Iowa talking about it it’s all over the news, internet, newspapers, etc.. Most farmers aren’t making money and they haven’t been making money for some time now. The only farmers making money right now are the ones that own land free and clear and don’t have high farm equipment bills. Investors are licking their chops, they THINK blood is on the streets so they’re jumping in. Investors feel blood is on the streets and once commodity prices turn around farmers will be back more aggressive than ever before.

  •  Interest Rates Are Low - Interest rates are low which means one thing, cheap money. It surprises us, more investors than not are borrowing money to purchase farmland. Investors that are buying farmland with borrowed money are taking advantage of low interest rates. Right now investors feel like they can make more money with their cash in other investments then park it in farmland so that’s what they’re doing. 

  •  They’re Not Making Anymore Land - Lastly but arguably most importantly investors realize they’re not making anymore farmland. Every single day another backhoe digs another hole to start construction of some sort and investors know as this world grows the demand for farmland will always exceed supply. 

Does this mean Farmers are not buying farmland? 

Absolutely not!  Farmers are still Buying and certain farming neighborhoods, counties, and regions across the state are in better shape than others.  Investors struggle to get farmland purchased because local operators are sitting in good shape and jump on good dirt that comes available when it’s close to what they already farm. It’s important when looking to sell farmland you understand if your farm falls in one of the “rich regions” of the state or not. 

If you’re considering selling farmland, reach out to one of our Land Brokers at Little Bull Auction & Sales Co.  It’s important to first understand your farms current value and to take a good look at how aggressive the local operators are within your farms location.  With all of this and a good plan on how to yield the absolute most value out of your farm, we are here to help.  To get the process started give us a call toll free at 1-800-508-2855 or simply fill out our Free Evaluation Form and we will be in contact.

2019 was not a kind year to the agriculture business sector, at least by one measurement.

Family farm bankruptcies jumped 20 percent last year to 595, the highest increase since 2010 according to US Court records and a report through the American Farm Bureau Federation. The spike in the Midwest was 17 percent from 2018 to 2019.

Kansas was fourth nationally in the number of bankruptcy filings with 36 last year. Only Nebraska (38), Georgia (41) and Wisconsin (57) had more. Kansas was also among the 10 states that saw the most family farm bankruptcy filings in a decade last year.

Looking back to 2010, the American Farm Bureau Federation says there were over 5,000 Chapter 12 filings, meaning 0.25 percent of all US farm operations filed for bankruptcy protection. Over the last 10 years, Kansas had 198 bankruptcy filings, putting it seventh in the country.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the "multi-year downturn in the farm economy, record farm debt, headwinds on the trade front and recent changes to bankruptcy rules" all contributed to the spike in bankruptcy filings. Net farm income was actually a bit above the 20-year average, boosted in part by federal funds to offset tariff impacts.

KANSAS AUCTIONS - Clearance rate bounces back up 10 percentage points - Dec 23rd, 2017

The Kansas real estate market reached higher on the last big auction weekend of the year as some market watchers predicted that housing and land prices in the first quarter of 2018 would be stronger than many people anticipate.

On Saturday, the Wichita Auction Group reported a 89.7 per cent clearance rate from 182 reported auctions.

The result was 11 percentage points up on the previous weekend’s clearance rate, which was a two-year high. It was also ahead of the overall National auction market’s clearance rate.

Fewer vendors in the Kansas market moved to withdraw their properties from auction sale, too. During the weekend, just 29 properties were withdrawn compared to 43 on the weekend of December 9 and 10. But there was a high level of under-reporting of auction results by agents. Some 510 auctions were scheduled. Of these, 447 sold, 35 were reported as passed as “no sales” and the results of the other auctions were not reported.

Some sections of the market were in a holding pattern as prospective buyers allowed auction properties to pass in. They then attempted to push down prices in the post-auction negotiations or told agents they were happy to wait and see if next year would bring cheaper prices which most likely will not be the case. 

“There is very good activity and I think it will keep up well into the New Year,” Mr Watts, with Little Bull Auction Co. said.  “If that continues or if that is an accurate reflection, there is going to be so many buyers in the market next January and February that the listings won’t cater to the buyers. What we are going to see is competition between the buyers. They’ve all waited, waited and waited, and I think next year’s market will kick off very confidently.”

Spring and early summer is traditionally the time when the market flattens out. There’s a big surge of stock between September and December, and frequently not enough mid-level buyers to go around.

But after Christmas agents are often bereft of stock for the next three months. In the past four years, the market has come back very strongly in February, March and April. This has been the key dynamic in the performance of recent first quarter markets, and the first quarter results almost always set the market’s mood and agenda for the rest of the year.

With population growth in Kansas on a major upward trajectory, official interest rates staying put and the unemployment rate falling, the fundamental drivers of the market remain in sound shape. The early months of next year could see the wider Kansas market inch forward and the most desirable areas pull ahead of second-best locations.

“We think [prices] have come back by 11 to 17 percent depending on location.  That’s a generalization and it depends on the property: good properties that tick all the boxes are still selling extremely well. But if there are strata issues or no parking, everyone is thinking that they’ll wait until next year because they think the market will come back by even more.”

Buyer’s agent, Dalton Watts with Prime Real Estate, a subsidiary of Little Bull Auction, who specializes in the higher end Wichita Metro Area Properties including rural farm and ranch said there were more buyers than sellers for prestige properties above the $250,000 price point and seeing a lot better activity even above that near the One Million Dollar Mark.

“It is not easy – the high end of the market is pretty strong at the moment,” Dalton said. “When people are in these high end properties, a lot of them say: ‘Give me an offer I can’t refuse and I’ll get out of here.'”  “I am not seeing buyers holding back right now,” he said. “There are plenty of people looking for properties in the eastern suburbs, primarily Butler County where I work, in the areas of Andover, Augusta and Rose Hill Kansas.  There is plenty of competition at the auctions to keep the prices moving in an upward trend.”

The Wichita Auction Group has revised down its clearance rate for the December 9 and 10 weekend and fully expect the 1st quarter of 2018 to remain strong.

The finalized data shows the City of Wichita and particularly just east into Butler County Kansas were the best performing regions with both notching up a clearance rate near all-time records.


Family farm bankruptcies hit 10-year high in Kansas, spike 20 percent nationally since 2018

Kansas Land Auctions

A major climate boundary in the central U.S. has shifted 140 miles due to global warming

In Follow up to the article in USA Today, Mr. Watts of Little Bull Auction & Sales Co. was asked by the Real Estate and Land Institute associated with Wichita State University to discuss the implications to the Kansas Ag Market and how something like this would affect land values across the State of Kansas.

Per Mr. Watts, "There are many factors affecting the downward pressure on land sales across Kansas and this is one of them."  "Other factors are input cost for farmers to continue to operate their farms and ranch's along with low commodity prices when it comes time to sell their farm product."  "The family farm is slowly disappearing and becoming a Corporate giant".   "If you think about the markets for the farm environment, now may be the best time to sell before the market starts to reflect the true decline."  "Between corporate American coming in and buying up land along with the few family farms that are growing then add in the growth market that is Kansas Hunting and recreation ground, we've had a very good run for some time."  "There does have to be a top somewhere in the market where we will eventually start to see land values come down or see a correction."  "Add this to the mix and the already contemptuous legal battles between Kansas and Colorado over water rights and you've got a recipe for a market correction in the near future."

UPDATE 8-17-2018

New trade tariffs are setting off fears of a trade war and are directly affecting Kansas farmers.  Even with a new aid bill working it's way thru the floor with President Trumps approval, the aid being offered may be a little to late and a little to short sighted to actually aid the family farm.  The inability for the Government to set a new round for the Farm Bill makes it virtually impossible for the farmers of Kansas to budget and plan their future.  Could you imagine running a company but not knowing the set of rules you are suppose to play by?    

A boundary that divides the humid eastern U.S. and the dry western Plains appears to have shifted 140 miles to the east over the past century due to global warming, new research suggests.

Scientists say it will almost certainly continue shifting in coming decades, expanding the arid climate of the western Plains into what we think of as the Midwest. The implications for farming could be huge.

The boundary line was first identified in 1878 by the American geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell. At that time, it was at 100 degrees west longitude, also known as the 100th meridian. 

“Powell talked eloquently about the 100th meridian, and this concept of a boundary line has stayed with us down to the current day,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Seager is the lead author of two new studies about the shifting climate boundary.

Running south to north, the 100th meridian cuts through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. It's considered the beginning of the Great Plains, a windswept, largely treeless expanse that covers large parts of 10 states and occupies one-fifth of the nation's land area. Yet its population is less than Georgia's.

Both population and development are sparse west of the 100th meridian, where farms are larger and primarily depend on arid-resistant crops like wheat, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies said. To the more humid east, more people and infrastructure exist. Farms are smaller and a large portion of the harvested crop is moisture-loving corn.

Now, due to shifting patterns in precipitation, wind and temperature since the 1870s — due to man-made climate change — the boundary between the dry West and the wetter East has shifted to roughly 98 degrees west longitude, the 98th meridian. 

For instance, in Texas, the boundary has moved approximately from Abilene to Fort Worth.

According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Seager predicts that as the line continues to move farther East, farms will have to consolidate and become larger to remain viable.

And unless farmers are able to adapt, such as by using irrigation, they will need to consider growing wheat or another more suitable crop than corn.

"Large expanses of cropland may fail altogether, and have to be converted to western-style grazing range. Water supplies could become a problem for urban areas,” the Earth Institute said.