Apr 132017
 

Farmland Update – Small Price Increase

Farm Credit Canada just released its annual Farmland Values Report which provides a yearly overview of provincial and national land values trends across the country. As usual, it is this time of the year that I adjust the value of my Saskatchewan farmland using the average change of this report and the inflation rate (CPI.)

Unfortunately farmland values in east-central and southeast Saskatchewan remained unchanged in 2016. This is where my plot of land is. The FCC report points to the oil and gas industry slowdown as the main reason for the lack of appreciation. However, other parts of Saskatchewan did see increases. 🙂

There was 0.00% increase in value to my farmland according to the report. The overall inflation rate in Canada was 1.43% in 2016. The average of these two numbers is 0.715%. Therefore I will be adding $3,000 to my farmland value from $433,000 to $436,000 in my April net worth update. 🙂

Ever since I started to invest in farmland, the FCC reported values is SK have always appreciated faster than CPI. This is the first year where the inflation rate has surpassed that of the annual FCC report.

Despite the stagnation in some parts of Saskatchewan, the overall appreciation in Canadian farmland was pretty good. Each province saw positive growth in aggregate, and the average increase across the country was 7.9% for 2016.

Luckily my farmland operation is profitable and I have a rental contract for the next 2 years so I am not too concerned that my farmland did not appreciate in 2016. I just hope it retains its value for the next 4 years, at which time I will probably sell it to free up capital for other, more liquid investments.

I bought my farmland in 2012. If I had to grow my own crops I would probably start with fruit farming. I think I would be berry good at that. 😀 But for now, I am happy just being a landlord.  My tenant always pays on time and the land’s value has gone up a lot so far.

But as we can see, the growth has been slowing since 2013. I believe the hay-day of farmland investing is behind us. Interest rates can’t go much lower than it already is. A weakening of the Canadian dollar and more foreign investments can spur a little more growth in the farmland market, but it’s not a guarantee.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

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Oct 132016
 

Slow and Steady

A reader recently asked for a farmland update. So here’s the latest. I’m collecting $8,500 a year from my tenant who is growing canola on my 310 acres of farmland. He pays me twice a year, half the total amount in the spring and the other half in the fall. Here’s the latest cheque that I deposited into my bank account last week. This amount includes 5% GST.

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My farmland loan outstanding is about $193,000. The interest rate is 3.4%. Property tax was about $1,500 this year. No insurance or other cost is necessary for owning farmland. So my total expenses came to $8,100. I’m rounding these numbers to the nearest $100.

Thus I’m able to make a $400 profit on my farmland in 2016. Slowly but surely, the financials are improving each year. 🙂

16-10-farm-update-financials

I think farmland returns are starting to dry up in North America. Commodity prices still haven’t recovered. So unless crop receipts increase by a substantial amount it’s hard to see any reason for the underlying land to become more valuable. Maybe farmland will continue to keep pace with inflation for the foreseeable future so it’s still a good store of wealth, but I don’t see much more appreciation from here.

It’s too bad the Canadian prairies is so cold. Many plants like hemp can’t grow out there. Since marijuana will soon be legalized there will probably be a lot of new cannabis growers by this time next year. Not to be blunt, 😄 but this obviously creates opportunity for investors too. For example, last year I blogged about buying some shares in Canopy Growth Corp, a supplier of medicinal marijuana. So far the stock has doubled in price! Not bad. 😀

Free eBook Download

Maybe I just got lucky with that marijuana stock. You shouldn’t get your investment advice from an amateur finance blog anyway. 😉 But my acquaintance David Chilton, who runs his own financial planning business is more than qualified to offer quality advice. I use the term “acquaintance” loosely because we’ve only corresponded by email a couple of times. 😛 Anyway, he’s teamed up with Tangerine bank to give away the eBook edition of his latest work, The Wealthy Barber Returns. 

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If you’re interested, just go to this Tangerine page and use one of the download links on the right. I’ve read the paperback before and recommend it for anyone who likes personal finance. The book covers a lot of core investing topics like index funds and the stock market. You can download it to your computer, or mobile device. It also supports the Kindle App. Enjoy! 😀

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May 022016
 

My net worth increased $64,000 so far in 2016 

Goodness gracious me! 😀 That’s even more than my annual gross salary. Maybe I should quit my full time job already. Haha.

But here’s the caveat. My net worth is measured in dollars. So I’m only becoming richer relative to the local currency. But as we shall discuss below, currency depreciation can be a real PITA. 😛 Policy makers from around the world are covertly initiating inflation to see which country can print the most money to improve their economy’s competitiveness. But by doing so, the devastating knock-on affects will financially destroy millions of lives in the years to come.

Higher Living Expenses in 2016

If you’ve purchased car tires before you are probably familiar with inflationary pressures. Inflation has been fairly high in 2016 so far. The government won’t admit it for political reasons, but regular folks like you and I have most certainly felt the effects of rising expenses in our wallets. Over the last year nearly all types of spending in Canada have become more expensive.

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Crude oil was trading at US $35 per barrel when the year started, but now it’s just over $45, a 29% increase. Coincidentally the price of silver bullion has also increased by 29% over the same 4 month period. The price of oil affects the price of many consumers goods, not the least of which is food, due to transportation costs. And since we use silver in photography, x-rays, solar panels, mirrors, cars, medicine, smart phones, and other consumer electronics, we can expect higher costs in these related fields moving forward.

Then there’s the largest monthly expense for most people – housing. The most recent S&P/Case Shiller index shows that U.S. home prices in February grew 5.3% year over year. I don’t even have to mention how crazy hot the Canadian real estate market has been lately. 😛 CREA forecasts the national average price this year will probably increase by 8%.

16-05-home-price-canada-crea-forecast

So house it going on the west coast? you might ask. Well let’s just say February was a record-shattering month for home sales in British Columbia, with a 45% increase in volume compared to a year ago.

How Investors Hedge Against Inflation

A few years ago I wrote a post detailing how prices of different goods increased 100% to 200% between 1990 and 2010. But if we were to store our net worth 20 years ago in real tangible assets such as oil, land, fixed properties, silver, and profitable businesses, instead of simply holding on to money or “savings,” then we could keep all of our purchasing power.

The reality is that life doesn’t cost more over time. In the 1990s if we needed fuel, we could buy 2 or 3 barrels of oil with 1 ounce of silver. Today in 2016, we can still pretty much do the same thing. On the other hand, buying oil with dollars would cost us 150% more today than in 1990. In other words, the costs of time, labor, skills, commodities, goods and services, which are all things that have intrinsic value, tend to stay fairly constant across multiple generations for the most part. But it’s the currency that is usually the clear outlier and it tends to lose value over any extended period of time.

One way we can hedge against inflation is through investing. Here are some choices that I’ve made in the past that have made 2016 one of my best years so far!

  • Buying precious metals stocks: I own metal mining stocks such as Goldcorp (G) and Silver Wheaton (SLW) which have outperformed the general stock market recently. But I’m in no way a good stock picker. 😛 The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) on the NYSE is an index fund that tracks the performance of global gold mining firms that are publicly listed in the U.S. This ETF has climbed 88% year to date! So anyone who holds a basket of gold/silver stocks or owns this GDX fund should be dancing on cloud nine right about now. 🙂
  • Buying physical commodities: I occasionally purchase silver and gold directly from the Royal Canadian Mint and bullion exchanges. For example, about half a year ago I bought a 100 oz silver bar which has appreciated in value since then. 🙂 I also practice earning silver wages, which basically means I make a portion of my money in silver to diversify my income. I’m not suggesting everyone should go out and do this too. I’m just saying from my personal experience this has been profitable for me.
  • Buying farmland: My down payment was less than 15% so this amplifies my return on investment by many folds. Canadian farmland prices have grown on average by 10% last year, which boosted my net worth by more than $30,000 as I’ve explained last month.
  • Buying real estate: I purchased a condo here in Vancouver when many people warned of a real estate bubble. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. All I know is Vancouver condos have increased in price by 10% over the last year, adding over $25,000 to the market price of my property.

As we can see all these investments represent real, tangible assets that have economic value, and therefore do not suffer at the hands of inflation. Everyone wants to know the secret to investing. But it’s really quite simple. All we have to do is look at historical patterns in the economy and apply common sense. 🙂 Piece of cake, right?

Liquid’s Net Worth Update

My investment income is really starting to grow now thanks to 7 years of compounding. I received $360 in interest payments in April between my Air Canada bonds and Antrim MIC. Plus I made $720 in dividend income from my stock portfolio. That’s nearly $1,100 of passive income that I made without any effort. 🙂

*Side Incomes:

  • Part-Time = $800
  • Freelance = $700
  • Dividends = $700
  • Interest = $400
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Fun = $300
  • Debt Interest = $1300

*Net Worth: (MoM)16-04-stock-fiscal-update-networth

  • Assets: = $971,900 total (+23,900)
  • Cash = $5,200 (+2700)
  • Stocks CDN =$113,900 (+3800)
  • Stocks US = $65,600 (-3800)
  • RRSP = $68,100 (-1000)
  • Mortgage Funds = $23,100 (+200)
  • Home = $263,000
  • Farms = $433,000 (+22,000)
  • Debts: = $487,500 total (-2,800)
  • Mortgage = $189,200 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $195,900 (-500)
  • Margin Loan CDN = $28,300 (-100)
  • Margin Loan US = $24,500 (-1400)
  • TD Line of Credit = $20,600  (-400)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $11,000
  • HELOC = $18,000

*Total Net Worth = $484,400 (+$26,700 / +5.83%)
All numbers above are in $CDN. Conversion rate used: 1.00 CAD = 0.79 USD

Stocks were pretty much flat in April. But my net worth increased by over $26,000 mostly due to the updated farmland value. The most recent FCC assessment report shows Saskatchewan farmland value rose 9.4% in 2015. The average inflation rate (CPI) in Canada in 2015 was about 1.4%. To be on the conservative side, I have adjusted the farmland value on my net worth statement by taking the average of these two figures, which is 5.4%, or an increase of about $22,000.

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Apr 142016
 

To become a successful farmer you have to be outstanding in your field, if you know what I meanBut as most investors know, commodity prices have been in a slump over the past couple of years. This means many grain farmers have to live a very tough life. Perhaps some of them barley survive from wheat to wheat! But things may not be as bad as they seem because crop sales in 2015 were some of the strongest Canadian farmers have ever seen, and was cited as a contributing factor to growing farmland prices.

 Canadian Farmland Values Grow 10.1% in 2015

The national agency, Farm Credit Canada, recently released its annual farmland value report about the previous year’s farming landscape. As it turns out in 2015 the average Canadian farmland price increased 10.1%. This is absolutely incredible! 😀

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Farmland prices are assessed using recent comparable sales. These sales must be arm’s-length transactions. All provinces saw their average farmland values increase and Manitoba experienced the highest increase at 12.4%. The full report is on FCC’s site.

After this year’s adjustment using the 9.4% Saskatchewan increase from the new FCC report my farmland should now be worth $129/acre more than last year. Since I have about 300 acres of Saskatchewan farmland, that’s almost $39,000 of capital appreciation in one year. Whoop Whoop!

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Farmland Historical Performance

Here’s a look at historical farmland values in Canada from 1985 to 2015 according to FCC.

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Aug 082015
 

Profitable Farmland

Sometimes when I run out of topics to write about for the blog I would visit the fabric store to find new material. 😀 But other times, I am inspired by visitors like you! A while ago a reader requested I do a profit and loss statement for my farmland. Great idea! So today’s post is a financial update about my farm’s earnings.

As you might recall when I first bought my farmland I was losing money on it. Well, after a few years I am finally in the black! 2015 represents the first year my farmland is profitable. Yay! 🙂

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Revenue from my farmland comes in the form of rental income. Both farms are leased to the same farmer who grows crops on it every year. Expenses include interest on bank loans and property tax. There are not a lot of costs associated with owning farmland. It’s only land so there’re no buildings or lawns to maintain. Let’s take a closer look at 2015’s numbers.

Revenue is down about $1,500 from the previous year because crop prices are lower. Since the prices of soft commodities like wheat and canola have fallen I’ve agreed to lower the rent for this year. If crop prices rise in the future I will be paid more.

As for expenses, it is dramatically down this year thanks to the lower cost of borrowing. 🙂 Many were hesitant to borrow money last year because they thought when interest rates go up they will have a harder time servicing their debts.

That’s not wrong, but I don’t personally adopt that kind of mindset because timing rate hikes is a fool’s game. The central bank actually lowered rates this year, twice. So now investors like myself, who have already borrowed money, are paying less interest than before. And our investments continue to perform well. Here’s a look at my current farmland loan situation. I only have about $200,000 left to pay off.

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Prior to now I was paying 3.89% interest rate on my loans. But now it is only 3.43%. 🙂 Both my loans share the same interest rate. The reason I have two loans is because I bought my farms separately – one in late 2012, and the other in 2013.
15-08-farm-loan-details

With my current $200,000 balance, I would only pay $6,860 a year for interest. The total property tax this year is about $1,600. However, I can save about $80 if I pay my property tax before the end of this month, which I plan to do.

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So after a few years I am finally making a $100 profit! I can’t wait to spend all that money. But as I wrote back in 2012, most of the gains from farmland investing is from capital appreciation. According to Statistics Canada, from 1981 to 2014, farm asset values have increased by more than 300% to over half a trillion dollars today. Last year Saskatchewan farmland prices experienced the highest average increase at 19%. This represented about 150% return on my investment due to my 8x leverage strategy.

Finding Value in Farmland

Compared to other types of investments farmland is still an attractive long-term hold. To analyse stocks investors often use the price to earnings ratio. The lower the P/E ratio is, the more return on investment the stock should generate over time. This is a useful way to find the best-valued stocks. With farmland, we can evaluate similar metrics by using the price of land relative to its income-earning potential. So instead of using price per share, we can use price per acre of farmland. And instead of using adjusted earnings we can use cash receipts. Farm cash receipts are not the same as net income, but it does a better job at tracking the patterns in farmland values. Below is a chart showing the average P/E ratio in different provinces over time.

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