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Auction of Nebraska Farmland Brings in Over $37 Million in Bids, Believed to be the Largest Auction Sale in State History

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One of the largest farm and ranch operations in Nebraska went up for auction on Thursday, December 1, and pulled in $37,555,000 in bids in what is believed to be the largest auction sale in the history of the state.

Thomas Land Co. – a 28,645-acre plot of land overlooking Lake McConaughy – pulled in some potential bidders from around the world, but most of the attention came from people within the region. The land was offered in 50 different parcels, and the bidders could bid on combined tracts of land with no size restrictions put in place.

After approximately seven hours of bidding, 19 bidders remained to claim the land that included center-pivot irrigated cropland, nonirrigated cropland and grassland, and paid an average of $1,405 per acre.

The $37 million-plus figure tied to the final sale was right in line with the appraisal conducted by Hall and Hall, the brokerage firm that handled the auction according to Bill Sheridan who was one of the auctioneers that assisted with the sale. According to him, the insider appraiser estimated that the final sale would be somewhere between $34 million and $38 million.

“When you gather this many in a hall like this and give everybody an equal opportunity to bid against one another, you will come up with a true indicator of what market value is today,” commended Sheridan.

During the first rounds of bidding, one group offered to pay $19.8 million for all 50 parcels of land before another bumped up the offer to $21 million. A third group followed suit, increasing the total offer up to $28 million. These total package offers disappeared after about six hours, finding themselves replaced by a few dozen others looking to purchase portions of the land rather than the entirety of the property.

At the start of the auction, Lola Thomas, the owner of the land, addressed the crowd and thanked the people from Perkins, Deuel and Keith Counties for all they had done for her late husband leading up to his death in 2015. Following the auction, she commented on how happy she was that local farmers and neighbors had purchased a majority of the land.

“I absolutely wanted the neighbors and local producers to be able to stay in the game and increase their involvement in Nebraska agriculture… I’m just very happy for what my husband and I did in Nebraska, and I’m very happy to see it culminate today in this auction. I hope the people that purchased the property will help it grow just as my husband and I tried to.”

David Domina, Thomas’ attorney, said that she had accepted a majority of the bids following the auction, and considered the sale a success.

There are about 49,100 ranches and farms throughout Nebraska, and the average one covers about 920 acres. The sale of ranches the size of Thomas Land Co. is rare, and this auction attracted the attention of a number of appraisers and land brokerage firms. John Molko, a land broker and certified general appraiser, commented on his presence, and the presence of several colleagues to the Omaha World Herald.

“The ag economy is in a bit of decline now and everybody’s looking for a foothold. They’re curious to get the big picture here of what land might be worth. There’s some uncertainty.”

Buying and selling farmland of any size can lead to any number of complications and disputes. In these cases, having experienced legal counsel on your side can help you navigate these difficulties and ensure that you receive a fair and beneficial outcome. Our Nebraska land dispute attorneys at Domina Law Group have spent decades handling these types of cases, and have secured more than $2 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients over their careers. Give us a call at (888) 387-4134 to speak with a member of our firm, or fill out our online form to request a case evaluation today.

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