Hobby farmer dominant

THE Meath auctioneer who said none of his 2005 land sales went to a full-time farmer was probably nearest to explaining the year’s buoyant rural property market.

His comment was included in the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute’s annual survey on agricultural land sales.

The IAVI says land prices were very strong for 2005, and have belied the doom and gloom predictions for the farming industry.

The clip-clop of the hobby farmer could be heard more loudly in the market. Non-farming bidding boosted prices for smaller parcels (which were not development land sales).

The Single Farm Payment was responsible for a slowdown in the beginning of the year, the report says, as landowners took stock of the market and waited for news of their entitlements, but the second half of 2005 saw renewed activity.

According to members in the Leinster area, Dublin land prices shot up by 15%, with pure land sales making from €7,500 to €15,000 per acre normally, with prime sales making as much as €30,000 per acre.

Smaller farms have again seen higher overall price levels, with residential holdings of up to 50 acres making just under €18,000 per acre in Munster, around €14,000 per acre in Connaught and not unexpectedly, a high of €25,000 per acre in Leinster.

Supporting that was the highest ranking sale of the year in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where a whopping, 1,500 acres sold for €20 million, and in Maynooth, 285 acres of land sold for €9.7 million, the equivalent of €34,000 per acre.

That price was matched in Co Louth where a 75-acre, residential holding sold for 2.6 million or €35,000 per acre.

Down South there are no large sales registered in the report for Kerry and only one for Co Cork, the sale of 80 acres and 111,567 gallons of quota in Carrignavar, Co Cork. Sold through joint agents Joe McCarthy of Irish and European and Liam Mullins of Liam Mullins and Co, 29 acres and 37,000 gallons of quota went to the Coveney family of Rathcooney, while local farmer Shane Horgan purchased 64 acres and 103,000 gallons of quota. The distinguishing feature of this €2.5 million sale was the high average of 1,385 gallons per acre. Broken down, the land and quota made €25,000 per acre.

In Tipperary, Stokes and Quirke had a number of strong sales to record this year, their most valuable being a €1.7 million sale at Ballyveelish South, a 107-acre farm which made over €15,000 per acre.

The firm also sold a shabby, but genteel property at Clarecastle for just over a million euro; it had 75 acres and a Georgian residence.

Perhaps the quietest sale in Tipperary last year was that of Dromard House, near Templemore. On the market with Harriet Grant of Ganly Walters and local agent, Tony McInerney, the 253-acre residential holding sold prior to auction for a sum in or around the guide price of €2.5 million. The hush-hush purchaser turned out to be horse breeder, Paddy Twomey, son of the late Sean Twomey, whose own Hawthorn Villa stud at Innishannon, Co Cork was sold for just under €3 million in late November.

And in Kilkenny, a working farm of 240 acres with a period residence and salmon fishing on the Nore sold after auction for around €5 million, while a dairy farmer purchased 189 acre in Wexford for €2.79 million.

The IAVI survey gives a flavour of sales for the year and confirms the overall impression of rising land prices. It’s not a comprehensive survey as the results are confined to IAVI members only, but their distribution throughout the country gives an accurate picture of how land sales are going. The IAVI is the country’s largest property organisation, with more than 1,900 qualified auctioneers, estate agents and valuers spread throughout the 32 counties.

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