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Big drop in dairy farm sales

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 13:47 21/07/2014

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Farm sales and prices continue to make steady gains on a year ago, but sales of dairy farms have turned sharply downward as global commodity prices fall.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute (Reinz) show the 544 farm sales over the three months to June eased 3.5 per cent compared to May. They were up nearly 15 per cent on the same period a year ago.

More than 1900 farms sold over the year, a 27.4 per cent increase.

The median price per hectare for all farms rose to $26,612, up 35 per cent on the same period a year ago and up 6.4 per cent on the three months to May.

Reinz rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said that even though there had been a big lift annually in farm prices and sales, it was happening on a steady incremental basis and current activity was quiet.

Farmers were also "cautiously gauging the potential impact on the forthcoming sales season as a result of clear signals regarding a possible reduction in incomes from the mix of lower product prices, rising interest rates and the very strong New Zealand dollar".

This was evident in dairy farm sales, which dropped heavily from 95 to 69 between May and June, with the most sales in Waikato and Southland.

On the price front, dairy farm median prices were $33,543 per hectare, on par with May and well up on the $29,555 price tag a year ago.

The Reinz Dairy Farm Price Index, which adjusts for farm size and location as well as price, rose by 5.2 per cent from May and 12.5 per cent compared to June last year.

While dairying was facing ups and downs, the horticulture sector was enjoying "very solid" sales, particularly in the Bay of Plenty, which is experiencing a resurgence of interest in the kiwifruit industry.

Finishing and grazing properties were selling steadily, particularly in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

Overall, nine regions recorded higher farms sales than a year ago, with the largest increase in Bay of Plenty (up 27 sales), followed by Otago (up 12 sales) and Northland (up 11 sales). Sales of lifestyle blocks fell nearly 11 per cent on the same period last year, but on an annual basis they were up 4.8 per cent, with the most popular lifestyle area in June being Otago (up 15 sales).

The national median price for lifestyle blocks rose to $515,000, up 2 per cent on the same period last year.

Lifestyle prices were highest in Auckland, where they climbed 15 per cent year on year and hit a record high of $912,500.

Peacocke said that despite the significant drop in lifestyle sales over the last three months, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough were bucking the trend.

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