By Brian Beasley
Current sellers of citrus groves are usually seasoned growers. They understand and practice the best horticultural activities based on a grove’s income potential. If the grove is profitable, they usually provide premium caretaking. If the grove is not profitable, growers may augment cash flow needs to ensure relatively healthy trees capable of setting a good crop. Sometimes the grower will choose to provide minimal care while retaining profits to replant with new improved varieties.
Sellers (growers) are usually motivated when a decision is made to market the property. They usually have financial goals in mind. These goals range widely but include retirement, taking a profit, reducing losses and exchanging for other investments.
SETTING THE PRICE POINT
It is important to price the grove relative to its current and future income potential, market demand/pricing of fruit, desirable varieties/rootstocks, path of progress, alternate uses and location. Nothing beats a good tight appraisal from a reputable and knowledgeable agricultural appraiser. Also, a broker’s opinion of value can be very useful.
Price the grove as close to the realistic market value as practical. Setting unrealistic selling prices usually results in fewer inquiries from prospective buyers.
When presenting a citrus grove to the market for sale, sellers understand that the property needs to be attractive to buyers. The grove needs to show well, and the grower needs to include as much information as practical to the prospective buyer.
In advance of the sale, growers typically spend the necessary time and resources to groom the property. This includes simple things such as increasing the frequency of certain maintenance activities like mowing, herbiciding, ditch cleaning and irrigation repairs. Clean barns and pump houses usually help a grove’s presentation.
Growers usually keep excellent production records. Having three to five years of records available to potential buyers is very useful. These helpful records include marketing contracts; crop production; average pound solids per box; block variety maps; resets by block, variety and rootstock; consumptive water use and drainage permits; and spray/fertilizer/herbicide reports.
MARKETING THE GROVE
Finally, marketing the grove may take on several forms. Some growers will choose to network their properties to their professional friends and relationships within the citrus industry. The Florida citrus industry is relatively small. We know our neighbors, caretakers, other growers, bankers, agricultural chemical/fertilizer distributers, fruit marketers, fruit processors and fruit packers. Generally, we are all friends in the industry and have known one another for many years.
Growers may choose to engage with a real estate brokerage to market their properties. Growers should select a real estate company or real estate professional that has a proven track record of industry knowledge and successful grove sales. These successful real estate brokers and agents usually are part of the citrus industry and have worked within the industry for decades.
In addition to having an aggressive real estate marketing program, brokers and agents need to have personal and professional relationships within the industry. It’s important that the real estate professionals understand the citrus business and can converse with knowledge and professionalism.
Brian Beasley is a senior advisor at SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate in Lakeland.
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