Meanwhile, in advance of publication of their final report on land prices for 2014 (due in about a week’s time), Ireland’s largest estate agents Sherry Fitzgerald have released some preliminary summaries of their impressions of agri-land selling in 2014.
There is some disparity in the figures emerging from these reports. Ganly Walters calculates average land prices have increased by 0.01% from 2013, standing at an overall national per-acre average price of €10,526.
Sherry Fitz, meanwhile, calculates an average price increase of 3% for the 12 months leading up to December 2014 but with a lower national average price of €9,550/acre.
What both reports do agree on, however, is that prices are rising moderately throughout most of the country, with growth activity concentrated in the South-West, Midlands and Dublin regions.
And in both cases, it’s the south-west region that is the star performer. Ganly Walters’ survey indicates that of the 3,410 recorded sales in 2014 in the counties of Cork, Limerick, Kerry and Tipperary (a further seven sales out of the total of 64 had undisclosed results and were not included), bringing an average of €10,943/acre — an increase nearly 20% from 2013 prices.
Average per-acre prices in Leinster dropped slightly (down 1.7%), bringing Leinster and Munster land prices closer together.
Elsewhere, both companies found that average land prices dropped in Connacht and the north-west.
The Sherry Fitzgerald analysis concentrates on the issue of land quality and break down the land into segments of prime arable land (which grew by 3.6% in 2014), grassland (up 3.2%) and marginal grassland (up 1.4%).
The distinction illustrates the concentration on quality land these days — something that all agents have been echoing for some time.
David Ashmore of Sherry Fitzgerald said: “Significant price differences are emerging between ‘prospect’ agricultural land and ‘pure’ agricultural land, with increases of between 15% and 100% witnessed across the country for this product over the last 12 months, against 3% for pure agricultural land.”
So far, prices in the farming sector remain stable while there are only farmers involved. When the nationally vital commodity of agricultural land was last left to the vagaries of the speculation market, we were left with a messy situation. Maybe now the time is right for Government to ensure stability for the future and consider re-introducing the Land Commission in some form?