Land Value Blog

Check back here regularly to find out what's going on at our company as well as informational real estate updates.

Recreational Land 101

Recreational Land 101

Oct 24, 2018
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August 11, 2017


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that at least 30 percent of American farmland is owned by non-operators who lease it out to farmers. And with a median age for the American farmer of about 55, it is anticipated that in the next five years, some 92,000,000 acres will change hands, with much of it passing to investors rather than traditional farmers.


The requirements to become an Illinois State Certified General Real Estate Appraiser:


July 14, 2017


1. Hold a Bachelors degree or higher from an accredited college or university.
2. Complete 180 of pre-license course work (300 hours is required as of January 1, 2008).
3. Pass a Trainee licensing exam from IDFPR
3. Complete 3,000 of practical experience in no less than 30 months 4. Pass the final Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's licensing exam.

Brett W. Berger, Inc. has two Certified General Real Estate Appraisers and a full team of support professionals on staff. Give us a call today at 618-302-2118 or email us at to find out how we can help you with the valuation of your rural real estate.


Accredited Rural Appraisers


July 10, 2017


Approximately one half of all land found within the United States is utilized in some form of agricultural production and even more is included in uses such as rural residential and recreational properties. At the same time, the number of appraisers that have been educated and trained in this specific type of real estate is a relatively small percentage of the appraiser workforce. Accredited Rural Appraisers (ARA) are trained by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. Appraisers who have received the ARA designation are trained and tested to ensure that they are equipped with the tools necessary to tackle a wide spectrum of real estate valuation assignments.

Brett Berger is Certified General Real Estate Appraiser in both Illinois and Indiana with over 24 years of appraisal experience. In addition to this, he is an Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) from the American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers, and a member of the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

Our staff has the expertise and experience to meet your valuation needs. Give us a call today at 618-302-2118 or email us at to find out how we can help you with the valuation of your rural real estate.




June 30, 2017


Land markets in central and northern Illinois are closely following by many analysts. But what are land markets doing in the southern parts of the state? We recently sampled 11 counties and discovered that land values are overall trending downward, with peak land prices occurring mostly between 2013 and 2015. Both White and Hamilton county cropland values appeared to hit highs in 2013 before rebounding somewhat in 2016. Wayne, Clay, Crawford, Jefferson, and Jasper counties all seemed to hit their highs in 2014. The late bloomers were Wabash, Edwards, Richland and Lawrence counties which all appeared to reach overall county highs in 2015, and sometimes into 2016. Overall in the region, 2017 appears to be a down year in land prices.




April 30, 2017


We have all heard about "fake" news.  Today we are going to talk about "fake" appraisals.  These are online land value estimates provided by computerized models.  Each model uses it's own set of criteria for analysis but there are many items that often go overlooked.  This can include things such as flood risk; the presence or absence of tiling; enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program; damage from oil production; shape & size of fields; mineral rights; legal & physical access; zoning; fertility issues;  and specific considerations about location. 


Don't be fooled by fake appraisals, contact us for a real appraisal. 


Updates in Estate Tax Laws


March 27, 2017


The federal estate tax exemption is $5.49 million per person.  If properly prepared, a married couple can pass up to $10.98 million is assets without incurring any federal estate tax.  However, the Illinois Estate Tax Exemption is only $4 million per person, resulting in only $8 million of assets that can pass estate tax free from a married couple.  If you may be affected by this, contact a competent estate attorney and plan ahead.  We prepare many appraisals each year for estate tax purposes throughout the southern third of the state.  Let us know if we can be of assistance.


Buying Real Estate in Your IRA

March, 22, 2017

An option unknown to many people is the ability to purchase real estate in an IRA. In order to do so, a person must establish a self-directed IRA. A third party administrator is required for administration services. Real estate can be used to fund Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, as well as SEP IRAS and Simple IRAs used by small businesses. If you don’t need the income now, and could use the tax benefits, this may be an option for you. Give us a call at 618-302-2118 to discuss the best purchasing option for any hopeful landowner!


Smarter Strategies for Buying Deer Hunting Land

January 4, 2017

Many buyers looking for deer hunting property limit their search to wooded land.   However, a smarter strategy may be to look at land that has both woods and cropland.  Cropland offers open areas that are already cleared and can be planted into food plots.  There are a variety of Conservation Reserve Programs that you can investigate that not only pay well, but some also allow you to plant wildlife seed blends into these areas.  Or, you can always keep the land in crop production to help pay for your hunting property.  A further benefit for looking for land like this is that you can often buy it at a discount!  Many hunters are not interested in the cropland, and many farmers do not want the wooded land.  Therefore, properties with both wooded land and cropland are often great buys.  Be a smart buyer, and look for a property that will grow both corn and deer! 

2016 Net Farm Income Lowest Since 2009

December 15, 2016

USDA predicts net farm income for 2016 to be down 17% from last year, and down almost 46% from 2013. 

Edwards County Land Values Peaked in 2013


December 13, 2016


According to our research, as of October 2016, overall cropland values are down about 17% from their highs in 2013. It appears the good quality ground has held its own better than lower quality land. As we await new data, we will see how land values have fared since this past harvest.

Christmas Shopping for Land Owners


December 1, 2016


As the count down to Christmas begins, It is often difficult to come up with Christmas ideas for everyone on your list. For the land owner, we have a few “toys” that you might consider putting under the tree. Trail cameras are at the top of many lists, even if the person isn’t a hunter, it is fun to see what (or who) is walking around on your property. Another idea is accessories for 4-wheelers and UTVs. There are a variety of accessories that can be bought. This can range from more expensive items such as pull-behind discs, planters and mowers, to sprayers, winches, camo covers, gun racks, and storage bags. Drones are also on the Christmas list of many land owners. Many come with cameras and can be used to check the land from the air. They also come in a wide range of prices, and many stores are running good deals on them right now. While a tie, cologne or house shoes might be on the Christmas of some land owners, many of them would much rather have some toys!

Tired of Hunting on Other People's Ground?


November 17, 2016


Tired of trying to get permission to hunt on someone else's land? Would you like to plant food plots and set up permanent deer stands by the landowner won't allow it? The best way to have control over your hunting property is to own it yourself! We have hunting land for sale that also has crop income to help pay for your ground. 30 acres in Wayne county that is also just 3/4 mile from Edwards county and has woods, creek, cropland and CRP land. 72 acres lies on the Richland & Wayne county lines, and has woods, creeks, and fields. Stop begging others to hunt on their land, and give us a call today at 618-302-2118.

The Southern Illinoisian:  "Talking about land?  It's always up and down"

December 17, 2015


Our company was interviewed for this artcile published on December 9, 2015 discussing land values in the region.  In preparation for the article, we compared 2014 cropland values with 2015 land values in twelve counties.  Five counties indicated increases, five counties indicated decreases and two counties were stable. 

Staff Updates: J.D. SPENCER

November 27, 2015


JD joins our team of professionals as a Real Estate Research Specialist. He has an A.A.S. from Lakeland College in Ag Production, and an Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in Agri-Business Economics.


JD grew up on a family farm, and has work experience with Mont Eagle Mills and Helena Chemical Companay. As a Real Estate Research Specialist, he will be responsible for inspecting and analyzing agricultural property sales.

Staff Updates: BRETT BERGER

November 23, 2015


Brett Berger, ARA (Albion, IL), has been selected for membership by the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI), headquartered in Chicago, IL. The announcement was made by RLI, which is an affiliate of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.


Brett joins an elite group of over 1,200 land specialists throughout North America. In addition to subscribing to the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, RLI members support the high standards of conduct and experience that directly relate to their specialty as established by the REALTORS® Land Institute Board of Directors.


Through RLI Land University, the Institute provides specialty education for members to be current in all aspects of taxation, investment, brokerage, subdividing, and planning regarding agricultural, transitional, recreational, and timberland. This depth of knowledge translates into the highest level of service to prospective purchasers and sellers of land.


The REALTORS® Land Institute is an affiliate of the 1,000,000+ member National Association of REALTORS®. It is the only branch of the REALTOR® family focused on land brokerage transactions within five specialized types: (1) farms and ranches; (2) undeveloped tracts of land; (3) transitional and development land; (4) subdivision and wholesaling of lots; and (5) site selection and assemblage of land parcels. The Institute was organized in 1944, and has been dedicated ever since to improving the professional competence of its members in land brokerage, management and development.


October 6, 2015


Average quality cropland, lower quality cropland and wooded land are all down so far in 2015 compared to 2014 levels. We will be watching to see if the trend continues after harvest.


September 25, 2015


Contrary to popular belief, there are still areas where cropland values continue to rise. Our studies for Richland county indicate that average quality cropland is up over 6% and lower quality cropland is up nearly 10% from 2014 levels. In stark contrast, the value of wooded land is down significantly over the same period.

Ignore the "coffee shop talk", and contact us for the real numbers.

Selling Farmland Yourself Can Save You Money in Real Estate Commissions . . . if you are an informed seller.

September 8, 2015


We have appraisal clients that have sold over $9.5 million in farm real estate so far in 2015 and paid no commissions.  Real estate commssions charged by brokers or auctioneers often run 3% to 6%.  Based on current sales of $9.5 million, that is a savings for our clients of $285,000 to $570,000.  There are circumstances when you need the services of a qualificed agricultural real estate broker or auctioneer.  However, there are times when you can sell your farm yourself and potentially save thousands of dollars in commissions.  Our appraisal and consulting services can provide you with the information that you need to price your land effectively. 

Wabash County Land Showing Increases by Mid 2015

August 14, 2015


Prices for average quality land appears to be up about 8% for the first six months of 2015, over prices in 2014. 

Lawrence County Land Values Up So Far in 2015

August 12, 2015


According to our analysis, average cropalnd values in the county in 2014 were around $6,650/acre and so far in 2015 average cropland values in the county are around $6,950/acre.  Lower quality land was about $5,200/acre in 2014 and is about $5,550/acre this year. 

Staff Updates: Brett Berger

July 31, 2015


Brett Berger was just selected to the Appraisal Review Committee of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA). He is in charge of District 3 reviews which include Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

New Illinois License Real Estate Broker

July 29, 2015


Shari Berger is an Illinois Licensed Real Estate Broker. Shari is the third member of our staff to become a license broker.

Staff Updates: Kayleigh Witter

July 28, 2015


After Completing the Appraisal Procedures course in Louisville, KY, Kayleigh Witter has now completed all of the coursework required for her Trainee Appraiser license.

Wabash County Farmland Value Trends

March 9, 2015


Based on our research and analysis of sales, the overall value of cropland in Wabash County, Illinois rose about 9% in 2014 from the previous year.  This follows a 10% increase in 2013, 3% increase in 2012 and a 28% increase in 2011. 

Wayne County Land Values Increase 2% in 2014

March 7, 2015 


According to our analysis of land sales, cropland values in Wayne county rose over 13% in 2011, nearly 17% in 2011, 24% in 2012, 11% in 2013, and only 2% in 2014.  

Grain Elevator Evaluation Class

February 4, 2015


In order to provide the most professional service available, Brett Berger attended the Grain Elevator Evaluation class in Lafayette, Indiana. The class provided through the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers was instructed by the knowledgeable Jeff Berg, ARA from Minnesota.


Does your Appraiser have the Proper License?

January 28, 2015


Make sure that your appraiser has the proper license.

According to Illinois law, it is unlawful for a person to develop a real estate appraisal, practice as a real estate appraiser, advertise as a real estate appraiser, or solicit clients to enter into an appraisal engagement without a real estate appraisal license. 


According to the Illinois Real Estate Appraiser Licensing Act, “A State certified residential real estate appraiser must have a State certified general real estate appraiser who holds a valid license under this Act co-sign all appraisal reports on properties other than one to 4 units of residential real property without regard to transaction value or complexity.”

What does this mean?  It means that it is not legal for certified residential appraiser to appraise farms and commercial properties.  All of these appraisals, whether big or small, whether for a loan or an estate, must be signed by a certified general real estate appraiser. 

Ask to see a copy of the appraiser’s license.  To appraise farms or commercial property, the appraiser must be a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser and the license number will begin with “553”.  

Cropland Values Down in Edwards County, Illinois

January 12, 2015


According to our internal sales analysis, cropland values in Edwards County decreased about 21% in 2014 compared to 2013. This is contrasted to increases of 31.5% in 2011, 5.8% in 2012, and 42% in 2013. However, these numbers for 2014 may be misleading. Sales activity in 2014 was less than any year in the past four years and none of the sales were brought up to public auction or listed with a broker. It will take more research from area counties to determine if cropland values in this region are really down. 


Brett W. Berger, Inc.

Rural Real Estate Appraisals & Consulting


P.O. Box 502

Fairfield, Illinois 62837


OFFICE: 618.847.0163

Brett Cell: 618.838.8900

Kayleigh Cell: 618.445.1790


See current listings:


Or use our contact form to inquire about any questions, comments, or concerns.  We will respond to you promptly.

Our Core Values

We believe that success and customer loyalty is earned.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve every single client, and know that it will take hard work to provide the professional service that you deserve

(1 Thessalonians 4:11).


Honesty and integrity are vital for the services that we provide.  We don't manipulate the numbers for predetermined values.  Our goal is to provide fair and accurate appraisals, so that you can make well-informed decisions.  Furthermore, we respect your privacy and will keep your information confidential (Leviticus 19:35-36).


We treat our clients as we would want to be treated. 


Expect courtesy and kindness from all of our staff (Luke 6:31; Philippians 2:3-4).


Trying situations such as death, divorce, or financial difficulty may cause you to need an appraisal.  We understand this, and will treat you with respect and compassion (Matthew 5:7; Proverbs 19:22; Psalm 112:5). 


Just as our farmer clients, we believe that a person reaps what they sow (Galatians 6:9). 


Learn more about our company and our employees.  Here you can see our qualifications.

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