Agriculture Property Sales in Central California

First of a four part series.

With agriculture such a big business in California, it’s only natural that ag and ranch sales within the state’s 75,000 farms and ranches, also is a huge business.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, farming in 2007 accounted for $36.6 billion in gross cash receipts.

Century 21 M&M and Associates, with its 20 offices located throughout the heart of the state’s richest farmlands, is No.1 in agricultural sales for Century 21 nationwide.

“We have Realtors that specialize in selling agriculture properties,” said Larry Matos, president of Century 21 M&M and Associates.  “We’re the largest agriculture real estate company in Northern and Central California.”

Larry Matos, President/Broker, email -

Larry Matos and partner and CEO John Melo, both come from farming backgrounds.  Matos and his family own and operate a dairy and also farm walnuts.

Derrick Upton, Madera Office call - (559)675-5921

Derrick Upton, based out of the Century 21 M&M Madera office, is typical of the firm’s farm specialists.  Derrick has years of hands-on experience in farming.

“I’m farming almonds right now. And I’ve done custom farming,” said Upton.  “I don’t know how you can sell agriculture, not being a farmer.  You need to know the lingo.  You need to know if the soil is good or not.”

He also knows farmers and their typically no-nonsense ways.  Derrick said many farmers wanting to sell, won’t list their property.

“They want you to just bring them a buyer,” said Upton.  “They don’t want a sign up and people driving through their farm and bothering them.”

Nick Von Flue Madera Office, call- (559) 675-5921

Derrick Upton has teamed up with fellow Madera associate Nick Von Flue, who handles the paperwork and contracts.  Von Flue previously was active in residential properties.

“I’ve done both and it’s easier to be in farms and ranches,” he said.  “This is what they (the farmers) owe, and this is what they want.”

Nick Von Flue also said when selling an agricultural property, potential buyers often are easy to find.

“I go to each neighbor and say, ‘are you interested in it?’”  It doesn’t hurt to ask,” he said.  “Fifty percent of the time, a neighbor or someone in the proximity of it is going to buy it.”

Clarence Oliveira, Turlock Office (209) 988-5254

Clarence Oliveira is based in Turlock and is one of the Century 21 M&M’s top Realtors.  He estimates agriculture accounts for 25 percent of his business and said knowledge is the key to closing ag transactions.

“First and foremost it’s knowledge,” Clarence said. “You have to understand what a farmer farms and how they do it.  With residential, it’s pretty straight forward.”

Oliveira said he also has credibility with his agricultural clients, as he owns two almond orchards and has family members in the dairy business.

The price of agricultural properties did not drop as much as residential homes during the recent realty slump.  On average, he said ag lands were down just 20 to 30 percent.

Oliveira, who projects to sell 20 to 30 agricultural properties this year, said he has 10 listings ranging from 20 acres of row-crop land with a house for $450,000 to 320 acres of almonds in Hickman offered at $4.8 million.

NEXT FRIDAY: Financing agricultural properties

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