Do you know what your barn is worth?

Study examines whether market conditions and an increase in barn listings have affected the value.

May 15, 2024

3 Min Read
National Pork Board

By Dusty Compart, Tyler Fitterer and Chester Donkers, Compeer Financial

We often discuss the value of our barns, but have you ever thought about how much yours is actually worth?

You might have a rough idea of your barn’s value, but it can be helpful to figure out its exact worth to get a clearer picture of your farm’s finances.

When it comes to the prices of new barns, it's clear that figures in the low-to-mid $400 range per space are common. These prices have remained fairly steady over recent years, though they can fluctuate depending on factors like where the barn is located, what equipment package and size. Conversely, the market for used barns presents a more nuanced landscape.

In the past three years, there has been a noticeable increase in the sale of used facilities. Several factors contribute to this trend, including economic conditions, owners seeking retirement or a slowdown and a preference among current owners to sell rather than invest significantly in their existing facilities.

To help us better understand barn values over the last three years, Tyler Fitterer, a senior certified appraiser and Chester Donkers, an associate appraiser at Compeer Financial meticulously analyzed sales data from 58 transactions since 2021. These transactions included grow-finish barns of varying ages, locations and sizes. The study aimed to assess whether market conditions and an increase in barn listings have affected the value of these structures, especially in terms of obsolescence, which refers to the difference between the sale price and the estimated value based on the cost of new construction and depreciation (Graph 1).


Historically, obsolescence has shown minimal variance, with discounts mostly staying within a narrow range. However, the team's recent findings show a wider range of obsolescence percentages, from -10% to 45% (Graph 1). When sales are divided by age groups, the data becomes even more interesting (Graph 2).


Sorting sales into three age categories – 1-7 years, 8-15 years and 16+ years – reveals distinct patterns. Newer barns (Group 1, in green) usually sell with little or even negative obsolescence, with a tight range around 20%. In contrast, older barns (Groups 2, in yellow and 3, in red) exhibit wider ranges of obsolescence, with Group 3, comprising the oldest structures, showing the most significant variations. This is likely due to varying facility conditions and marketability.

In short, newer and well-maintained used barns command a premium and demonstrate relatively consistent values, likely due to factors such as high construction costs, efficient layout and minimal need for immediate repairs. At the same time, older barns exhibit more variability in value, influenced by factors such as condition, layout and required investments for efficiency improvements.

Ultimately, while age plays a role in determining barn value, the wide range of obsolescence in sales can be attributed to factors such as a facility being in a location with a larger buyer pool, timely maintenance and upgrades and opportunities such as manure utilization for crop fertilizer.

Compart is a swine lending specialist with Compeer Financial. For more insights from him and the Compeer Swine Team, visit their website.

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