In 1954, Anthony Markus wanted to escape the Communist regime of his country. And he planned to do so, together with his two friends. One night, he hid near the border of Hungary and Austria, waiting for his friends to arrive. Unfortunately, however, his friends never showed up. The young escapee at last decided to set on his own, crossing obstacles just to taste freedom from living behind the clutches of the Iron Curtain. He ran until he stumbled upon an Austrian vineyard. Lucky for him, the farmer gave him a place to stay, and the means to earn a living.
Markus's life was not easy, even after escaping the regime. Today, however, he now finds himself as the owner of one of the largest farms in the north. Markus is able to enjoy plowing the 14,000 acre fields, and taking care of more or less 1,000 cattle!
After Markus left Hungary, he travelled until he found his way to Canada, where he first worked in The Pas's bush south, and then went to work as a baker in Regina. Markus brought with him Margaretta, a woman he had met in Austria. And later on, the two would marry.
After Markus was laid off at the bakery, he began thinking of farming instead. His father was a farmer before the Communist regime, and he had even worked as a farmer himself. So, he and his wife pooled their savings, and went back to Manitoba. With the money he had, he bought a 400 acre piece of land there. Eventually, through hard work and dedication, he built it into what it is today.
The place sure is far from where Markus grew up, but it's a safe haven for him and his family. You can enjoy doing that too - if you have $53.3 million lying around, of course.
The property is made up of three farms, being sold as one. Markus is tending to the biggest chunk of the property. All of these farms are equivalent to 24,000 acres, and this is said to be the biggest piece of real estate on the market.
If you want to know how big the property is, well, just imagine the City of Vancouver. Then picture the whole city to be slightly smaller, and resembling a flat piece of paper. All the buildings are replaced by a flat expanse, spreading outward in all directions from the center. That's how big the property is.
According to Markus,“It’s flat like a pancake; you can farm corner to corner… We don’t have rats, we don’t have gophers, we don’t have molehills.”
Markus farms grain and cattle on his main farm, while the two adjacent farms are for wheat, oats, and canola.
Darren Sander, a Saskatoon-based realtor, is the one overseeing the sale.
He said, “One of the things about selling farms that is probably different than other real estate is that, when a farmer hires us to come to the door, they’re hiring you to sell their life’s work… With a farmer, farming isn’t just what they do. It’s who they are.”
Sanders was the one who thought of grouping the three farms together. He explained, “To make it of such a size that we could draw someone from a long distance to buy this property.”
Luckily for Sanders, Markus's neighbours were also up to the idea. The sale of the three farms is not exclusive, which means that anyone who is interested in purchasing only one of the three is still welcome to do so. However, Sanders has also said that people who have reached out to them so far are interested in the packaged sale.
Anyone looking to purchase the property would really be getting everything that they see in it.
Sanders said it “Includes all buildings, homes, bins and all infrastructure. The equipment and cattle is also included.”
Unfortunately, most potential buyers for these types of properties are farmers. However, Sanders is still positive that the property will be sold soon. He said that the value for the money is what will draw buyers in.
Even though the prices in the area have risen, they are still quite low, when compared to the prices in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
Sanders said, “It’s the most economically-priced, cultivated land that I am aware of in Canada… And it’s great land, great soil.”
The only drawback of the property is its location.
The Farming Sector
It's true that the farming sector get less attention, when compared to the residential and commercial real estate. It might not be surprising for you to hear that many pastures and fields that are for sale don't get too many buyers.
According to a study done by Statistics Canada, most farmers nowadays are at an age where they're close to retiring. And we may soon be seeing large numbers of agricultural buildings and farmlands changing hands. The amount of money that comes with these numbers (estimated to be no less than $420 billion in 2016) is quite high, as well.
In recent years, the real estate market has seen an upward price trajectory, especially in the housing sector. However, this does not mean that the farming sector is getting left behind. According to a Crown corporation which aids farmers by lending them money, Farm Credit Canada, the farmland annual price gain is 8% since 2000. There are even times when the annual price gain will reach up to 25%.
According to the chief agricultural economist of Farm Credit Canada, J.P Gervais, the primary reason of farmlands' escalating prices is the rise of farm incomes. He pointed out that, "That can be explained by one thing — demand for food… We’ve seen a slowdown in the world economy, but in terms of food demand, the fundamentals remain very positive.”
After the financial crisis of the late 2000s, the farming sector became an asset of its own. And since "everyone has to eat", investors quickly found themselves running away from the stock market and diving headfirst into the farming sector.
Markus plans to take a break from farming, if the property is sold. He wants to fly more, and maybe even build and ride a motorcycle. Markus would also like to visit his sister, who owns a vineyard in France.
Markus would still continue to farm - maybe not on his property, but on his neighbors'. He said, “I might be selling my farm, but I really enjoy running farm equipment… I just don’t want to be doing it 24/7.”