### Land as an Investment: Can I Afford It?

Farmland is a major investment demanding high upfront costs. Learn key factors related to repayment capacity and how to reduce your overall risk.

3 minute readLow interest rate environments are a good time to be strategic about paying off debt and refinancing, re-amortizing or repricing a land loan.

Depending on where you’re at in the life of the loan, how much you owe and your credit quality, such steps could help you save money on future payments.Let’s examine some of the common strategies and key factors to consider when locking in a lower interest rate.

Whether your goal is to reduce your monthly payments or pay off your land loan early, there are several strategies you can use to take advantage of lower interest rates.

**Re-amortization** means changing the number of years to repay your loan.

When considering your refinancing options, compare the new loan terms – including the rate and number of years to repay the loan – to your existing loan terms. Depending on your situation, it may be beneficial to modify the rate and length of the loan term at the same time.

It’s also a good idea to compare loan terms alongside the cash flow expected from your income to help you better manage payments. Consider the following refinancing scenarios.

Let’s take a look using this example of refinancing to a lower interest rate.

By refinancing your land loan to a lower interest rate, you could reduce your annual payment by $3,909. For more on interest rates, review our article on how to get a better land loan rate.

However, if you want to improve cash flow demand with an even lower payment, you can stretch this loan over 15, 20 or 25 years. Note that the longer you extend the number of years to repay the loan, the higher the rate you will potentially pay.

As you can see, the number of years to repay a loan has more impact on your cash flow than the rate of your loan. A 10-year loan at 5.50% has a payment of $66,577 versus a 10-year loan at 4.25% has a payment of $62,668, but a 25-year loan at 5.20% reduces the payment to $36,506.

Our article on payment structures can also help you understand how different payment and term scenarios would impact your total cost to own and your cash flow.

Another important consideration includes comparing the annual expenses of the land to the expected annual income of the ground on a per acre basis. The expression of the annual expenses (loan payments and real estate taxes) is called the cash rent equivalent (CRE).

Using the same example above, let’s take a look at the cash flow impact of different loan maturities.

The $500,000 originally financed 160 acres. The property taxes on this farm are $3,500 per year. The calculation for determining CRE is:

- principal + interest + taxes, divided by the number of tillable acres.

The CRE on the original loan amount of $500,000 over 10 years with a 5.50% interest rate is $66,577 (principal and interest) + $3,500 (property taxes) divided by 160 (number of acres) = $438/acre.

The CRE calculations for the original loan and earlier examples are outlined in the table below:

Remember to consider all sources of income when considering your cash flow needs.

In addition to evaluating your refinancing strategies, comparing rates and term length, and calculating CRE, there are several questions you should be prepared to ask when refinancing a farmland loan, such as:

- What costs are involved in financing a new loan or refinancing an existing one? Abstracting, appraisal, title opinions, recording, others?
- Is there an origination fee in doing business with a particular lender? If so, how much? Does it vary depending on loan size?
- Is there a prepayment penalty if I want to pay off or pay down the loan early? If so, how is it calculated?
- How do lenders handle the following loan servicing examples and what are the costs associated with them?
- Access to re-borrow equity
- Partial release
- Substitution of collateral
- Assumption of the loan

- If rates go lower, is the lender willing to reduce the rate?
- Does the lender have the ability to finance additional loans using the same mortgage that is filed on your existing collateral? What is the cost if they do?

Farmland is a major investment demanding high upfront costs. Learn key factors related to repayment capacity and how to reduce your overall risk.

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