21 Apr 2010

Lenders blamed for drop in farm sales, prices

6:38 am on 21 April 2010

Farm sales and prices are continuing to slide, bringing fresh complaints from the Real Estate Institute that local lenders are being too cautious.

The latest rural property figures show that only 210 farms were sold in the three months to March, compared with 231 for the same period last year and more than 700 the previous year.

The national median farm sale price for that period also slipped below the million dollar mark, to $970,000.

Real Estate Institute President Peter McDonald says this is surprising, when the outlook for dairying is so positive.

He says an apparent lack of confidence among the local lenders is leaving the way open for overseas investors to move in .

However the country's biggest rural lender, ANZ New Zealand, denies tighter lending criteria is behind a fall in farm prices and sales.

Head of rural banking Charlie Graham says the resistance is coming from potential buyers who are not prepared to pay the asking price for farm properties.

"I guess the reason why they're holding off, and looking at those cash returns and the return they'll get on their assets, is to make sure that their business does have the ability to withstand volatility and stresses which may or may not come in the future."