Two pioneering digital real-estate companies have found a buyer and seller … in each other. EasyKnock, a residential sale-leaseback company founded in 2016, has acquired FarmlandFinder, an online marketplace for farmland that began specifically with Iowa properties and has since expanded nationwide.
The companies say that the acquisition enhances EasyKnock’s offering, bringing the sale-leaseback model — with the flexibility, liquidity, and control it provides — to a broader audience.
Sale-leasebacks in farmland aren’t new — FarmlandFinder just used its established online platform to make them readily accessible to farmers who find themselves in a variety of situations.
In a sale-leaseback model, an investor acquires the land from the farm owner-operator and then leases it back to them on a long-term basis. The intent is to provide value to farmers seeking an alternative financing solution. A sale-leaseback provides liquidity to the farmer while helping them maintain on-going operational control of the land. FarmlandFinder helps to pair farmers with qualified investors.
“It could be a good program for a retiring farmer whose equity is tied up in the land, but they’d like to keep farming for a few years,” Peter Jaques, head of real estate at FarmlandFinder, has said previously. “Or a progressive farmer who wants to take the equity from one property and use it to buy another piece of land or invest elsewhere in their operation. The other time a program like this could be useful is when a farmer has fallen on hard-times and they need to free up some cash to keep the farm going. It may not be ideal, but at least there’s an option.”
Similarly, EasyKnock, which is headquartered in New York, also is in the sale-leaseback business, but for a more traditional residential market. The strategy enables American homeowners to convert their equity to cash by selling the property to EasyKnock while remaining in the home as a renter.
“The addition of our rural farmland offering with EasyKnock’s products, platform, and reach is a powerful new option for more Americans looking for liquidity,” said FarmlandFinder founder and CEO Steven Brockshus.
EasyKnock is a private company led by CEO Jarred Kessler. According to MillionsAcres.com, Kessler has said that the average age of homeowners using his service is 50 and that the average homes he works with are worth approximately $300,000 and located in Texas or Florida.