Farm Ireland

Saturday 22 October 2016

Equestrian big hitters driving a mini-boom

North Leinster

Jim O'Brien

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

Claremont House on 383ac at Miltownpass, Co Westmeath that sold at auction in September for €3,500,000. It was bought by Tony and Anne O'Callaghan of Tally Ho Stud.
Claremont House on 383ac at Miltownpass, Co Westmeath that sold at auction in September for €3,500,000. It was bought by Tony and Anne O'Callaghan of Tally Ho Stud.

The land market in North Leinster is the story of the year where the amount of land sold under the hammer increased by 97pc on 2014 and the amount of money paid at auction increased by 110pc.

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Average prices surpassed 2013 levels after falling by 6.37pc in 2014. This year North Leinster land more than recovered that loss, surpassing the 2013 average by €28 to finish at €10,098/ac.

This survey looked at 58 successful auctions held in Dublin, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Offaly. In all 3,241ac were sold under the hammer, up from 1,642ac in 2014, while the amount of money parted with in the auction rooms totalled €32.7m, a massive increase on the €15.59m spent in 2014.

The most expensive property sold was the 383ac Claremont Estate near Milltownpass. The residential farm with a splendid Victorian courtyard was bought under the hammer of Paul Murtagh by Tony and Anne O'Callaghan of Tally-Ho stud for €3.5m or €9,138/ac.

North Leinster was also home to the biggest farm sold at auction in 2015. The property known as 'Little Budds' on the shores of Lough Ennell stretched to 408ac and was sold by Ganly Walters to a Scottish buyer for €1.95m or €4,779/ac.

Aside from Little Budds four other farms in North Leinster made more than €1m and these included a 100ac farm at Mayne, Clonee, Co Meath bought by a Turkish buyer for €1.5m. A 109ac grass farm at Killeigh in Co Offaly made €1.31m in a variety of lots under the gavel of Portarlington auctioneer, Matt Dunne, while John Harrington of Smith Harrington, Navan sold a 61ac residential farm at Collierstown, Navan for €1.125m or a strong €18,444/ac. The last farm in the million euro bracket was a 137ac tillage farm at Rath, Streete, Co Westmeath sold by Paul Murtagh for €1.01m.

Development potential

In a clear sign that farmers may not have the land market to themselves for much longer the two strongest per acre prices in the country were paid for land with development potential in North Leinster. A 9ac parcel of farmland with such potential at Dunshaughlin in Co Meath sold for €75,550/ac at the May Allsops auction, while a 16ac parcel of similar Dunshaughlin land sold at the same auction for €58,125/ac.

Stephen Barry of Raymond Potterton auctioneers describes 2015 as a cracking year for land sales in North Leinster saying there were buyers from across the sectors along with investors looking for a safe haven for their money. "The equine sector was involved in buying the bigger places," he said, "the dairy buyer was still buying the smaller place and the tillage people were active as well."

Paul Murtagh agrees that trade was busier but points out that the average price of €10,098/ac would not be reflective of the whole region, "In Westmeath and Longford you are looking at a different market than Meath Louth and Dublin. The land is different and the average price would be closer to €8,000/ac for good land." He said that the volume of land sold is definitely up on other years, with quite a few big farms selling.

Kells auctioneer Robert Nixon says that the early part of the year was characterised by young farmers driving the letting market to avail of the new entrant opportunities.

He found sales were steady enough but with less bidders and little evidence of cross- border trade. "I was expecting greater interest from Northern buyers in 2015 given the advantage of sterling but they didn't materialise," he said.

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