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Jessie Hartland

Real Estate
Land Ho!

If you think Manhattan real estate is hot, check out the Corn Belt, where farmland in Iowa fetched $3,204 per acre in 2006, jumping 13 percent during the course of 2006, compared with a 10 percent rise in 2005, according to the Seventh Federal Reserve District in Chicago. While the average two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan will set you back $1.2 million, that price rose just 6.1 percent in 2006 over 2005, down from a 22 percent rise in 2005 over 2004, according to Miller Samuel, one of the city’s leading real estate appraisers. Midwestern farmland prices, driven by developers and investors, will likely be further fueled by continued high corn prices. “We’ve got a new factor, and that’s energy,” says Ray Brownfield, president of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. For their part, conservationists fear more corn means less wildlife habitat and worse water quality. “To the casual observer, corn ethanol may look like an easy solution to our energy problems,” says Betsy Loyless, policy director for National Audubon. “But in reality, it carries many new problems of its own.”—Julie Leibach

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