15 Mar 2017

Farm sales off to slow start

9:06 pm on 15 March 2017

Farm sales are off to a slow start this year.

Cow in a paddock in the Hawke's Bay area

In the past year there were 7 percent fewer dairy farms sold, and an 18 percent drop in grazing farms. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Thirty-eight fewer farms were sold in the past three months than the same period a year ago.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand show that for the three months ending in February 436 farms were sold.

Rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said several factors were behind the drop in sales.

"Caution, uncertainty and delayed decision-making are the over-riding comments relating to the current market as the rural sector continues to grapple with volatility of income, volatility of climate and the ever increasing emphasis on compliance and environmental issues."

In the past year there were 7 percent fewer dairy farms sold and an 18 percent drop in grazing farms.

For the three months to the end of February the median price per hectare rose by more than five percent, to $27,395.

Mr Peacocke said some sectors had more sales than others.

"Horticulture remains the bright spot on the immediate horizon, particularly the kiwifruit and pip-fruit sectors, followed closely by a resilient beef market."

In dairy, the median price of farms for the three months ended February 2017 dipped to $39,642 compared to $44,322 for the three months ended January 2017.

Over the past year the average price per hectare for dairy farms has risen by 8 percent and the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index rose by 19.2 percent.

Six regions recorded an increase of farm sales over the past three months compared to the year before - led by Otago, Taranaki and Southland.

Lifestyle property market hits record

The median price for all lifestyle properties sold in the past three months has reached a record high of $600,000, which is 10.5 percent higher than for the same three months a year ago.

For the three months to the end of February 2017 the number of lifestyle blocks sold dropped by 222, nearly 11 percent.

Mr Peacocke said this was the lowest since April 2015.

"Fluctuating volumes of sales is the standout factor for the three months ending February 2017.

"Some regions are ahead of the previous month, but an overall decline is sufficient to record the lowest three month number since April 2015. The offset has been the record peak in prices."