Are we turning a corner in terms of price being paid for land? Some auction news this week from Midleton, Co Cork, and Adare, Co Limerick, would certainly lead one to think so.
A 140-acre holding on the outskirts of Midleton — featured on these pages on August 18 — was a golden combination of lands zoned for amenity, industrial, residential, and agricultural use.
Half of the land is under grain and half under grass, with the majority of it in good condition, according to selling agent Éamonn O’Brien of CCM.
Perhaps, the fact that only 12 acres of the entirety was zoned purely for agricultural purposes made the pre-auction price guide of €10,000/acre very conservative, but things kicked off in a lively manner last week on the day of the public sale.
Five acres had already been sold prior to the auction, so it was the remaining 135 acres that were up for sale.
With 120 people present and five lots (plus the overall holding) on offer, it was a potentially confusing public sale to orchestrate. Along with O’Brien and solicitor Linda O’Shea at the top table were his CCM colleagues Jim O’Brien and Tom Kelly.
There were two rounds of bidding, the first being to determine the levels of interest fsor the combined lots on offer, and for the overall property.
When it emerged that the price differential was almost €400,000 in favour of selling the holding in its entirety, the second round proceeded with it being declared on the market and selling in its entirety at €2,000,050.
Two bidders were involved to bring the sale to a conclusion.
The final price on the day came in at €17,000/acre.
Including the pre-sold portion, the overall price achieved was €16,500/acre.
The winning bidder was Irish Distillers, whose lands adjoin the holding. They, in turn, are believed to have agreed to sell on a number of portions from the holding to other interested parties.
“At the end of the day, €17,000 an acre is a fine price, with all the challenges facing farming,” said O’Brien after what was a unique set of circumstances.
The block in Adare, meanwhile, was much smaller. The 20-acre holding at Ballinakill — just south of Adare — was an estate sale of the representatives of the late Kathleen Pelham Clinton Hope.
Selling agent Tom Crosse of GVM Auctioneers described the land as being of “excellent quality”. He said the residential property was laid out in three “very nice fields”.
“There is a single-storey cottage thereon in need of repair, together with some stabling and a loose shed. The location is excellent, just 10 minutes drive from the hugely popular and picturesque village of Adare.”
While the land quality was strong, a key factor in the property selling well was the presence of the cottage along with stables.
Bloodstock prices are strong, and good-quality land that shows suitability for someone in the business has been selling well in recent months.
On the day, the property opened at €225,000, with bids coming in regularly until it was formally placed on the market upon hitting €300,000.
Another seven bids ensued until the auctioneer brought the gavel down on a price of €325,000, representing a price per acre of €16,000.
According to Mr Crosse, the British-based purchaser was indeed someone with “equestrian interests who intends breeding some bloodstock on the lands.”
Milk prices will have to rise some more before dairy farmers will be able to influence land prices.
In the meantime, it appears that the baton is firmly with stud farmers and investors for the moment.
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