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Friday 20 October 2017

Munster: Southern land bucks the trend with a 5% rise

Killaloan House, on 30ac near Clonmel, made €580,000 at auction
Killaloan House, on 30ac near Clonmel, made €580,000 at auction
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

After a sharp decline in the per acre price last year the only way for the price of land to go in Munster was up.

Following a decline of 25pc in the average per acre price between 2014 and 2015, Munster landowners will be glad to see that the average per acre price has recovered by 5pc on last year's figures and now stands at €9,512/ac.

However, in terms of volume there was 28pc less land sold at auction.

A total of 32 successful public auctions saw 1,650ac change hands compared with 2,303ac in 2015.

The biggest farm to sell under the hammer in 2016 was sold by Sothebys in Co Clare.

Newhall is a 310ac estate outside Ennis included a distinctive 18th century mansion of some 15,000 square feet with gate lodges, woodlands, parklands and lakes.

The lands include 150ac of private forestry in mature deciduous timber, with a further 160ac in parkland and a combination of good and rough grazing.

At auction David Ashmore of Sothebys received one bid of €1.7m from a solicitor acting for a client and this secured the deal.

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At a Glance

Counties: Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Waterford

Average price per acre: €9,512

Number of auctions: 32

Total acreage sold: 1,650

The most lucrative sale of the year in Munster was the auction of 135ac of grazing and tillage with an old house and yard on the outskirts of Midleton.

In an auction conducted by Eamon O'Brien of CCM the place was bought by Irish Distillers for €2.29m or €16,962/ac. Offered in a variety of plots it attracted a range of buyers interested in the smaller pieces. However, Irish Distillers bought the lot. In a most neighbourly gesture the company then entered into immediate negotiations with some of the under-bidders, including a local sports organisation, a group with an interest in developing the house and the farmyard, and a local farmer who was outbid for a 16ac tillage parcel.

Another holding to surpass the €1m mark was a 77ac stud farm with two residences and a range of fine equestrian facilities at Bruff, Co Limerick. Ballyvolane Stud made €1.015m when it sold to a woman from North Cork in a sale conducted by Richard Ryan of GVM Kilmallock.

The highest per acre price paid for ground in the south was in Ballinacourt, Dungarvan in Co Waterford where an 8ac parcel of grazing was bought by a Limerick farmer for €192,000 or €24,000/ac.

Not too far away John Stokes of REA Stokes and Quirke sold a 30ac residential farm at Killaloan, Clonmel near the end of the year for €580,000 netting €19,333/ac.

Reflecting on the year, Tom Crosse of GVM Limerick said the private treaty sale was becoming the preferred option for purchasers.

"Auctions work in a confident market, we don't have a confident farming market at the moment. Allied to that the banks are employing very restrictive lending practices and unless you have an awful lot of cash in your back pocket going to an auction you would be as well off stay at home," he said.

"GVM is back 10pc on land sales, we recovered a bit from the middle of the year but there are a hefty amount of withdrawals at auction. I think it's important to say that it all gets sold eventually but it takes more time."

John Stokes operates at the heart of Tipperary horsey country where equestrian interests have reputedly been snapping up much of the available land in recent times. However, even here he sees the number of transactions down. "You'd feel confident about putting smaller parcels up for sale but the big farms can be a struggle." Like many of his colleagues John is hopeful the recovery in milk prices will reignite the market.

John Hodnett of Clonakilty described the year as very slow from the start but it recovered in the last month or two of 2016, "The dairy farmer had no interest, the tillage farmer didn't want to know and the beef man was worried about Brexit. However, I've seen a lot of activity in the last eight to 10 weeks."

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