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Pasquotank County, N.C., farmland sells for $17 million in auction

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (March 23, 2011) -- Approximately 3,900 acres of land in Pasquotank County, N.C. sold for $17 million Tuesday in a Murray Wise Associates auction that drew a packed house of bidders for what turned out to be a vigorous bidding competition.

"If nothing else, we saw today that the strength in farmland prices goes well beyond the Midwest. Here in the South, we saw the same thing we've been seeing elsewhere -- a strong interest in quality tillable land from local farmers and investors alike. And that led to a very strong outcome today," said Joe Bubon, vice president of the company, which partnered with Schrader Real Estate & Auction Company for the auction.

The auction drew approximately 200 people -- including approximately 75 registered bidders -- and developed into a protracted battle among bidders vying for individual tracts, groups of tracts and the entire property. In the end, the competition came down to a bidder for the entirety and a group competing on various combinations, with the entirety bidder finally paying $17 million.

The land, which included more than 2,700 acres of tillable farmland, was offered in 21 tracts, ranging from 21 acres to 378 acres. "This was a lot of farmland, especially for this part of the country, but we had strong interest from every conceivable type of bidder. We had very large bidders, local farmers, and everything in between," said Bubon. "We even had some major pension funds registered as bidders."

Bubon said the demand for the property reflects the nationwide trend toward strong demand for quality farmland. "For the past five or six years, no real estate asset has outperformed farmland, and the factors that have created that demand will continue into the future, so today's buyer has made a very astute investment," said Bubon.

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