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Farmland Loans: How to Get the Best Rate

If it’s not the first question you’re asking, it’s probably the second: What is the interest rate on this loan? It’s common for real estate loans to be 10 to 20 years in term; the interest paid over that time matters. While it shouldn’t be the only factor in making a real estate purchase, it is an important one.

What determines the rate?

Risk:  Lenders look at the risk of the borrower (credit score, history, experience, etc.) as well as the risk of the loan (quality of land, improvements, down payment, collateral, etc.)

Aggregate risk:  The more business you do or the more you borrow from us, the lower your rate will tend to be. It’s similar to buying a single bag of seed from a dealer versus buying in bulk; the more bags you buy, the cheaper the rate.

Competition:  Lenders want to be competitive in the market.

These three factors all go into determining the rate on a loan. As a customer-owned cooperative, long-term sustainability is important to owner-borrowers, so those who are high-risk are asked to pay a little more and those who are low-risk tend to pay less.

How do I get a better rate?

Lower your risk to get the best rate. Carefully examine the financials of your operation and improve key financial indicators. A strong owner’s equity percentage will work in your favor, as will lowering debt and building up working capital. You can improve your repayment capacity by focusing on what you can control in your operation.

Which ratios should I focus on improving?

There are 16 ratios and all are taken into consideration. However, as a capacity lender, we view accrual capacity and cash capacity as very important. Click to view the 16 ratios.

How does the length of the loan affect the rate?

Loans can range from five to 30 years, with longer-term loans generally carrying a higher interest rate. A 20-year fixed rate is one of the most common loans. The right term for your operation will depend on your specific situation, including your short- and long-term plans. Will you hold this note for 20 years, or do you plan to sell the land in five years?

What is a rate conversion?

Suppose you choose a fixed rate of 6% on a 20-year note. Say that a year later, rates drop to 5%. You can opt to do a rate conversation from 6% to 5%. With us, there is no need to re-apply or write a new loan. The fixed rate will put a ceiling on your rate (it will not go up as long as you don’t default), but it doesn’t put a floor on it because of the rate-conversion option.

How long are rates locked?

We lock rates for up to 45 days without a fee. Longer rate locks are possible, with a fee or slightly increased rate.


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FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.