Keefe Real Estate’s legacy began over 75 years ago, starting as an agricultural auction service, which helped farmers sell livestock, equipment and farms. Today, as the leader in real estate brokerage in Southeastern Wisconsin, Keefe finds itself going back to its roots by building out a division devoted to farm and land brokerage.
Farm Auction Service, Inc. was founded in 1943 by Robert D. Keefe; it was a small enterprise assisting farmers with selling livestock, equipment and farms, while also providing funding for individuals looking to acquire agricultural land and goods. Bob Keefe, as he was known, viewed the agricultural community as valued customers and built his business on close relationships, servicing customers like they were family. To sellers, he provided knowledgeable and timely sales services of farm and personal property; to buyers, he provided financing to purchase these items. Keefe added value by making it easier to finance farm purchases on terms familiar to the agricultural community.
Committed to the Customer
As the Keefe business prospered over the years, the company’s services were expanded to include both insurance and real estate sales. Excellent customer service and attention to changing customer needs is still a trademark of the company, all of which are values established by their founder, Robert Keefe. Mike Keefe recalls his father’s philosophy and work ethic regarding the farm and land business in the early days. “His focus was always on the client, great relationships and great support, which is very similar to how we operate today,” he explains.
Coming Back to Agriculture
After much evolution, and three generations of expert family leadership, the Keefe family and their present-day business, Keefe Real Estate, is primed to re-enter the agricultural and land market. Tom Keefe, current President and CEO, sees this as a natural fit for the company, “Agriculture is such an important component of our regional economy, and we see this as a niche that warrants additional focus,” states Tom. “Specifically, we had the opportunity to partner with some of the region’s best and most experienced farm and land brokers to re-enter this space. We are uniquely positioned to serve these customers, whether they are farmers, land owners, or developers, and will be expanding our services in this area.”
He continues to explain that farm and land in Racine and Kenosha Counties is going through a once-in-a-generation transformation with the arrival of Foxconn. “While 2018 saw a slight slowdown in farm and land sales in this region due to tariffs and other factors, farm and land continues to be a solid investment, and we even anticipate sales picking up over the next one to two years,” Tom Keefe notes.
Furthermore, he adds that along with being a reliable investment option, Keefe Real Estate sees this continuing as a stable segment of their business. “With our strength in residential sales, we also see an opportunity to connect land owners with developers as more and more people move to the region,” Tom Keefe says.
New Venture, New Location
This new business venture is centered around the Keefe Real Estate office in Woodstock, Illinois, which opened in December 2018. Located near the Wisconsin/Illinois border, Woodstock offers a prime location as well as the proximity to connect with the surrounding communities of Harvard, Hebron, Richmond, Johnsburg, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Marengo, and Woodstock.
Like Keefe’s other offices, this location is staffed with veteran farm and land management and sales associates, who are dedicated to providing top quality service to their farm clients. Namely, these agents will use their many years of combined farm and land sales experience to bring expert valuations of land and superior marketing efforts in traditional and digital venues to obtain the highest values in the shortest period of time for their sellers. They will also assist farm brokers looking to make their listing and marketing tools more effective.
Specialized Service and Expertise
To solidify their position as a major player reentering the agricultural sales market, Keefe Real Estate is focused on offering specialized service to the industry. Specifically, they offer their expertise on wetlands, soil types and crop productivity indexes of the land in the Southern Wisconsin/Northern Illinois region to buyers and sellers alike. They also have an extensive database of area farm and land sales, Multiple Listing Service (MLS) exposure in both states, and internet exposure across the U.S. and globally.
Keefe’s leadership believes that when it comes to marketing farm and land real estate, the importance of who you know is every bit as important as what you know. Keefe’s management and sales associate’s connections in the area are second to none. They have experience working with municipal planning and zoning departments, agricultural lenders and attorneys, the Farm Service Agency and a number of USDA programs. Keefe’s expertise extends to section 1031 tax deferred exchanges, which they can facilitate when called upon.
As Keefe Real Estate goes back to its agricultural roots, their farm and land specialists are uniquely prepared to represent farm and land clients in their area. As agents with a thorough understanding of local planning and zoning requirements and contacts in the agricultural lending and rezoning institutions, the Keefe team has a wealth of knowledge and already established connections to bring both buyers and sellers a formula for success!
By: Amy Ryan
Photography by: Matt Haas