When it comes to buying or selling farmland online, there’s no Zillow or Realtor.com sites to turn to. Often limited to word of mouth, estate sales, and ads in the weekly shoppers, agricultural real estate hasn’t quite entered the digital world yet. That’s where Terva hopes to comes in.
Terva is an online marketplace that connects farmers with the right farmland at the right time. By aggregating farmland real estate data, Terva provides a simple, map-based web interface — where all the information needed to determine land value is stored.
“Terva does not estimate land values — instead, we provide farmers, investors, and landowners the data they need to determine their own value,” said Steven Brockshus, creator and owner of Terva. “With the comparable sale data we provide — users can get a pretty good idea what the land market in their area is doing. If they’re going to sell their land, we recommend seeking professional guidance from a certified appraiser.”
Brockshus, who hails from a farm near Sibley, Iowa, is currently studying ag business and entrepreneurial studies at Iowa State. The young businessman graduates in May, but hopes to have the site launched publicly in March with services starting in Iowa.
“I was raised on a 5th generation family dairy farm and I am excited to bring those hardworking, boots-on-the-ground values to building a business that creates practical solutions for everyday people,” Brockshus said.
Where did the idea for Terva come from? Brockshus said the seed was planted on an agricultural-focused visit to Japan.
“The Embassy told us there were one million acres of farmland sitting fallow, because landowners didn’t have the right connections with growers or buyers. The next summer, I was at a land sale with my dad and I quickly learned that getting your hands-on farmland is an arduous process,” Brockshus said. “When I look back into my journal – I can see an entry on January 22, 2015 that brings these two experiences together to form the idea that is Terva today.”
Today, Terva provides sale prices, satellite imagery, soil survey, CSR2 values, tillable acres, landowner information, and county assessor notes for each sale record. In the future, the company plans to add crop history, rainfall history, and drone imagery in the reports.
Terva updates recent sale data from public records and utilizes automated technology to track public listings and auctions through the internet. Some brokers and landowners also contact the site directly with upcoming sales.
By entering an address or dropping a pin, users can receive geographic-specific notifications about land activity in their alert zone.
While Terva does not currently include land that is available for rent, Brockshus said it is something they would like to provide in the future.
“I have family and friends who rent farmland and finding a good landlord match is difficult,” Brockshus said. “We hope to make this simpler in the future.”
Terva generates revenues by following a SaaS (software-as-a-service) Freemium subscription model — similar to the models Spotify and Netflix use.
“For free, users can see all upcoming farmland sales. Users start to pay a monthly subscription when they want access past sale prices and records for various counties,” Brockshus said. “In the future, we’re looking to build a software suite for farmland real estate professionals – which will be another source of monthly subscription revenue.”
After the Iowa launch, Terva plans to scale services throughout the Midwest and then out to the coasts as early as 2018. Anyone interested in buying or selling farmland can sign up for a free account now at www.terva.ag.
“Our core service is providing farmland sale records and upcoming listings and auctions,” Brockshus said. “From there – we’ll expand to offer whatever services help us achieve our mission of making the world’s farmland information accessible.”