Farm sales highlight agriculture optimism

Agricultural optimism which looked liked being drenched in early and late spring, rallied with the good weather to see a range of record-breaking farm sales in Co Cork.
Farm sales highlight agriculture optimism

The trend was running well anyway, with dairy herd expansion plans putting pressure on the farm sales market — and it responded.

More good quality land seems to have come up this year than in the last five, and the price per acre confirmed this. Headline-grabbing sums of €16,000 per acre were paid, and a large, 370-acre tourism development holding in Kinsale finally sold after the crash, and for a not too shabby sum either. It made just under 10k per acre, or a total of €3.465 million, and was sold to American Tupperware chief, Rick Goings, who it’s expected will continue to lease out the prime, south-Cork tillage land. The selling agents were Christy Buckley and David Ashmore of DTZ Sherry FitzGerald’s country sales department.

If there was one hotspot this summer, it was the Lee Valley area, where liquid milk suppliers and other dairy farmers paid big prices for good land. This illustrated another trend; where there’s good quality land, which needs little work and has easy productivity, then bidders are prepared to pay more than they would for secondary land that needs work. It makes sense.

So, the sale early in the year at Vicarstown, by Joe McCarthy of Irish and European, made €11,000 per acre and that was topped by the summer sale of 74 acres at Dripsey, Co Cork, part of the Dripsey Castle estate of the O’Shaughnessy family, acknowledged to be good quality ground. In the heel of the hunt, this land made a very smart €14,500 per acre, which fitted in with an early and quite astonishing Coachford sale that reached nearly €17,000 per acre for a 35-acre holding very early in the year, which was followed by a number of other sales logging in healthy 10k plus per acre prices.

However, this summer’s 74-acre sale at Dripsey is perhaps one of the highest prices paid for pure farm land, and the interest from local buyers was expected, according to Joe McCarthy. In the heel of the hunt, two local farmers purchased the property in two separate lots of 50 and 24 acres apiece.

In the same mid-Cork area, the agent has also agreed a sale on lands at Carrigathou, Coachford for a undisclosed sum, but believed to be in excess of €12,000 per acre. When land sold here in 2004 (purchased by property developer and horse breeder, Denis O’Flynn), it made just over €10,000 per acre, which shows how far the market has moved.

“Farmers buying land now are already efficient operators, and they’re expanding and upgrading. The last two years of bad weather mean they’d prefer to buy a piece of land that can be farmed for 9-10 months of the year, at twice the price of marginal land.

“Banks are now giving 60%-70%, and those with no borrowing and an outstanding farm are identified by the banks as good clients. But farmers have to do the figures and present five and seven year plans to support property acquisitions,” says Joe McCarthy. He has quite a bit of experience of bank lending this year — with Irish and European having demolished their heavy farmland listings this summer, with record-breaking prices achieved.

The most recent large offering was a quality chunk of farmland at Church Rd, Currabinny, Carrigaline which included a portion of zoned land adjoining the village.

Slowly increasing in bid levels over the summer, it’s believed the sale is now close to sealed, with over €14,500 per acre agreed, but the agents couldn’t confirm the figure.

Irish and European also sold a number of properties in north Cork where demand, while still strong, hasn’t pushed prices to high levels.

A 68-acre holding in Newtownshandrum made close to €11,000 per acre, while 38 acres at Carrignavar was sold at €12,500 per acre through Irish and European

Very few farms are sticking on the market, most are finding buyers, privately or at auction — like the 63 acres at Manister, Croom, Co Limerick, which recently scored an astounding €16,666 per acre for John Flynn Auctioneer, who sold for €1.05 million to Andrew Nolan of Goffs Country, in trust. This has to be a regional high for the Golden Vale area.

And the previous week’s result at Tullylease, Charleville was an excellent result for John Flynn and Dan Fleming, who jointly sold 63 acres at auction for the equivalent of €11,260 per acre.

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