Agents predict turnaround on rural property

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Real estate agents are reporting an increase in farming confidence despite farm sales experiencing a five-year low.

Landgate statistics show farm sales have fallen steadily from 2158 properties in 2005 to 1216 last year.

In the last quarter of 2010, there were 195 farms sold, down 16 per cent on the previous quarter.

The dry season across the South West, Great Southern and Wheatbelt has impacted on sales, compounded by a lack of available finance.

It’s not just WA’s property market affected by historic lows, New Zealand has also reported a slump in sales for the past three years.

But the industry could be on the edge of a turnaround.

REIWA rural network chairman Hugh Ness said farming optimism had picked up since harvest, because of high commodity prices and a measured approach by banks.

This has led to an increase in inquiries, according to Elders real estate manager Malcolm French.

“We are on the cusp of things moving forward. There is plenty of inquiry and once it rains, we will see an increase in confidence,” Mr French said.

“WA is a big state. All the pastoral areas are looking good and we have had a lot of inquiry for cattle stations and have a few good ones coming on the market and in the south, the Nullarbor has never looked better.”

Landmark WA real estate manager Glenn McTaggart said that while sales volumes appeared to be down, sales were still being made and the price of land was holding at the highs of 2007–2008.

“We are seeing an increase in overseas inquiry for WA farmland, mainly for grain production,” he said.

“This buyer inquiry is coming from a wide range of countries with the anticipation that sales will be made during the coming selling season,” Mr McTaggart said.

There has also been an increase in lease properties, some of which were previously offered for sale. Another marked change in the market has been a shift in the timing of sales

Mr McTaggart said the bulk of sales had been in the January to April period, away from the traditional spring selling period.

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