Business Farming

Friday 30 September 2016

British-based buyers are mainstay of western land market

Jim O'Brien

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

A survey of 25 successful auctions held in the counties of Connacht along with the Ulster counties of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan in 2015 shows a decrease of 2.11pc in the volume of land sold and a decrease of 11pc in the amount of money generated compared to 2014. A total of 1,342ac changed hands generating a total of €8.773m resulting in a per acre average of €6,537.

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Roscommon auctioneer, John Earley thinks these results reflect what was happening on the ground. "While the volume of sales increased and while the year started well the strength went out of the market in the middle of the year," he said. "Nevertheless there is a lot of demand for land but the prices are not there," he said. "Only for the UK buyers I'd have a very quiet time in land sales."

Tuam auctioneer Martin Tyrell says that confidence is returning to the market and he is seeing decent prices paid in private treaty sales. "If the land is good and located in a good farming area then you'll get the money," he said. "In recent months I have got prices ranging from €6,500 to €10,000/ac for good farming land in this area," he said.

The land market in Connacht-Ulster lags behind the rest of the country with the average per acre price trailing almost 35pc behind the national average. The 1,342ac of land sold at auction in 2015 generated €8.7m, a figure well down on the €9.8m generated in 2014. The average price of €6,537/ac is also well back on the €7,195 of the previous year.

One property in the region broke the €1m mark in 2015. The farm in question was a dispersed holding at Cloonfad in Co Roscommon that sold in lots under the gavel of Gerry Coffey netting a total of €1,040,000 or €6,887/ac. The next highest price was paid for an 80ac residential grass farm with a period residence at Feaghmore, Eyrecourt in Co Galway that sold under the hammer of DNG's Ger O'Toole for €990,000.

The largest holding to sell at auction in the region was a 263ac portion of the famous Markree Estate at Collooney in Sligo. The holding netted €762,000 or €2,897/ac under the hammer of Robert Ganly in a sale jointly handled with John Murphy of Tubbercurry. A 120ac farm at Rooskey and Strokestown in Co Roscommon was sold in lots by Paul Lafferty and Tom Cox for €430,000 or €3,583/ac.

The dearest per acre price was paid for a 15.2ac parcel of ground at Derryhiney, Portumna, Co Galway that netted €192,000, or€12,631/ac. Also among the better prices in the region was the amount paid for a 20ac grass farm with a derelict house at Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. The holding sold at an auction conducted by Raymond Smith and made €240,000 or €12,000/ac. Another good land sale saw a 37.6ac parcel of grass at Killoughey, Raphoe in Co Donegal make €392,000 or €10,425/ac when it sold to a local farmer at an auction conducted by Henry Kee.

Looking ahead to 2016 John Earley expects more and more investors to take advantage of the investment opportunity offered by land, especially given the tax breaks for long term letting coupled with the incentives for tenants to improve the land they are renting.

"Buying land for rent is now really attractive for someone who wants a real return on their money and an improvement in their asset," the Roscommon auctioneer said. "You can get a tax free return of around 4pc on your money. And under the new letting conditions and incentives you will get your property back after a long term lease in better condition than when you first let it."

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