For just $1.75 million, a 15-acre farm on Chilliwack River Road with three homes, eight acres of blueberries along with horse, hay and poultry barns can be yours.
And if you are looking for a farm for sale in Chilliwack, that’s the low end.
For just under $11 million, you can get your hands on an 11-acre greenhouse operation on 25 acres, complete with a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and two 2,500-plus-squarefoot homes.
A recent real estate report from RE/MAX puts a fine point on the obvious broad strokes: Farmland in Chilliwack and the rest of the Fraser Valley is very, very expensive.
The bottom end of $40,000 to $60,000 an acre for farmland in the Fraser Valley is more than double the most valuable agriculture land anywhere else in the country.
“The fresh fruit market — blueberries, in particular — has experienced a sharp increase in demand in recent years, and that is attracting new farmers to the area and spurring existing growers to increase the size of established farms,” according to the RE/MAX Market Trends Report, Farm Edition 2012 released this month.
The approximately $50,000-an-acre pricetag compares to $800 per acre in Saskatchewan, all the way up the Canadian scale to the $18,000-plus per acre in Ontario’s Holland Marsh and $20,000 per acre in Bradford, Ont.
“A couple of things are in play,” said Chris Kloot, a dairy and poultry farmer who is also a real estate agent and director on the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). “One of them is the limited geography in the area. It’s not huge and it’s absolutely prime soil, some of the best in Canada. For dairy, for example, we can get five crops of grass a year. Other places get three.
“Another thing is there is nothing available, so there is definitely demand.”
Kloot recently sold 13.5 acres of land in Chilliwack for $800,000, one of only a handful of farm sales in recent months.
The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) also helps to protect the value of farmland while creating a limited supply.
As of Sept. 10, there were just 23 listings in the Fraser Valley.
Low interest rates and high commodity prices have helped fuel expansion and the need for additional acreage, according to the RE/ MAX report.
“The global desire to ‘bury money in the ground’ is not without merit,” says Gurinder Sandhu, executive vice-president and regional director of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada in a press release. “Investment funds are taking a hard look at farmland as a result, with well-known asset managers calling farm returns among the best investments out there. And while this endorsement has attracted a growing number of investors to the Canadian market, it has also provided little incentive for farmers to sell productive farmland. In fact, the reverse is true, with many looking to further amass parcels of land and expand existing operations.”
“Overall, the market is expected to remain stable through year-end, with modest price growth, strong demand and tight supply characterizing the market,” the report said.
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