Horticultural land sales increase

PETER WATSON
Last updated 12:28 23/10/2012

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Vineyards and orchard properties have finally started to sell in Nelson and Marlborough after months of little action.

The latest Real Estate Institute figures show that 12 of the 25 farms sold in the top of the south in the three months to the end of September were horticultural properties, a marked increase on a year ago.

Nationally, sales of such properties have almost doubled from 19 a year ago to 37, while the median selling price per hectare has jumped from $82,000 to just under $142,000. In Nelson-Marlborough, it has risen from almost $70,000 to $127,300.

Duke and Cooke director and rural valuer Dick Bennison said most of the sales were of vineyards in Marlborough, although he knew of several properties in Nelson that had changed hands.

As a "cautiously optimistic" wine industry started to emerge from the doldrums, some of the bigger players were taking advantage of a soft property market to expand, he said.

"It's the canny operators with foresight who are the purchasers."

Many of those selling had bought into the industry when it was at its peak and had just been hanging on, waiting for a buyer, he said. Others had been forced to sell.

Few orchards were being bought as the industry continued to find it tough going, he said.

Grazing properties made up the next-biggest chunk of sales in the September quarter, with eight, while three finishing and two forestry blocks also sold.

In all, the total of 25 properties sold was one more than in the August quarter and 12 higher than the year before. The median price per hectare fell sharply from $72,013 in August to $35,693 in September, largely because lower prices for finishing and grazing units, but remained well ahead of the $7681 median for the September 2011 quarter.

The local lifestyle block market tailed off slightly, with sales falling from 63 in the August quarter to 58 in September. However, this was still up on the 53 last September. Prices firmed from a median of $390,000 in August to $442,500 in September, which was down on the $480,000 recorded a year ago.

Nationally, farm sales dropped 15 per cent in the September quarter to 269 compared with August, but were still 5 per cent ahead of the same time last year. The median price of $18,041 per hectare was up 2 per cent on September 2011.

Institute spokesman Brian Peacocke said unsettled weather and market conditions put a dampener on early spring sales.

There was strong demand for quality dairy and larger sheep and beef farms, but a shortage of listings, he said. While more properties would come on the market in October and November, this was unlikely to satisfy increasing demand.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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