Clockwise: Top sales of 2016 included “Ferndale”, Cootamundra; “Durham Court”, Manilla; “Glen Alice”, Capertee Valley; and “Kincora”, Gundagai. THE bulk of the sales activity in 2016 was been between established family farming interests – predominantly between vendors retiring, downsizing or changing tack, and buyers (usually from the same district) seizing expansion opportunities.
Several significant sales this year were re-offerings of properties previously listed without result several years ago.
A shortage of listings, coupled with a general lift in farm profitability and a pervading mood of confidence in agribusiness as an investment, forced buyers to revise their thinking about values.
Improved grazing country in the safer rainfall areas, which for several years past has been trading in a range of $1000 to $1500 an acre, is now fetching anywhere from $1500-$2500/ac, and in ultra-favoured areas, more than $4000/ac.
This has pushed up sheep area values on the Slopes and Tablelands from the low $300s a DSE to around $400/DSE, and cattle country values in favoured breeding areas to as much as $8000/cow area.
In the Western Division, according to David Russell of Landmark Russell, Cobar, some properties sold this year have doubled in value in five years.
Apart from the seasonal factor, and improved markets for wool, sheep and cattle, he said demand had been boosted by record prices for goats, and by graziers seeking more country to offset land they had locked up for carbon credits.
While demand is outpacing supply for neighbour-to-neighbour farms and corporate-size holdings, there remains a “slow spot” in the market, according to agent Chris Meares of Meares and Associates.He said properties valued at anywhere up to $5m were being snapped up generally by established farmers, and properties or aggregations above $10m attracted corporate or institutional interest.
“It’s the properties in between that can be difficult to sell, being too big for the farm-build-up buyer and too small for the corporates,” he said.
“With grazing properties, the corporate and institutional investors ideally want a spread that will carry 2000 cows or 30,000DSE.”
A recent example of the strength of demand at the other end of the scale was the offering by Meares and Associates earlier this month of“Mirrabooka”, a 238ha grazing property near Taralga.
Of the 20 prospective buyers who inspected the property, 10 were established property owners (mostly local) and 10 were city-based investors. The property sold for$1.4m which was $250,000 above the reserve.
City buyers are also showing renewed interest in lifestyle farms, according to David Nolan of Webster Nolan Real Estate, who said this market segment had “gone off the boil” for several years amid negative vibes coming out of the country.
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