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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter VI: Land values,   pp. 192-202 PDF (2.3 MB)

Page 200

serious. No doubt the percentage of assessment to selling price
gives the better basis for estimating values, yet for the purpose of
showing the general movement of prices the average of sales
seems fairly satisfactory; at least the same percentage of error
which appears in the results by this method for the period i895 to
i899 would not be sufficient to change the general trend, and for
reasons already given it is believed that the error would be much
less over a good part of the early period. Again it may be said
that land has never yet declined in price in this county. The av-
erage for i896 is higher than in succeeding years, but as shown
for a previous year, this deceptive average comes from an uneven
distribution of sales. In the few dairy towns where land is cheap,
eight hundred acres were sold at about twenty-two dollars per
acre, while in four towns in the opposite corner of the county
more than three times as many acres changed hands at fifty-five
dollars per acre. In the years following, when the price seems
lower, the sales in the dairy section were two or three times as
great, and in the other section much less than for the year i896.
   It is of interest to notice that the valuations of real estate for
the four distinctive tobacco towns fall below that of four other
towns where almost no tobacco is raised. This, however, may
not be considered a fair comparison, as the town of Madison,
where proximity to the city gives an added value, was included
in the latter group: but taking four towns in the northeastern
part of the county, where there is not even a village of any con-
sequence, the price of real estate falls but little more than two per
cent. below that of the tobacco-growing section. Surely this is
conclusive evidence that tobacco growing is not responsible for
any considerable part of the advance in farm values; yet, as before
admitted, the very choicest of tobacco land sells higher than any
  In looking over the records for some forty or fifty pieces of
land, with data as to improvements and quality of land, it is re-
markable that the results coincide closely with those reached by
the statistical treatment used above. The prices in the individual
cases are much higher, but that is because no swamp or hilly land
was considered. Swamp land is still sold as low as five or ten
dollars per acre, and some of the roughest land is hardly salable

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