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Tuesday 14 August 2018

Land Prices: 'I am aware of 1,000 acres of tillage that's being turned to grassland'

North Leinster Land Price Review

Stunning Westmeath organic farm with top class cattle handling facilities makes €8,000/acre.
Stunning Westmeath organic farm with top class cattle handling facilities makes €8,000/acre.
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

North Leinster has had what might be called a challenging start to the year: all the indicators show a downward trend with the amount of land sold at auction down by 11pc. Money generated by auction sales is down by 30pc and the per acre price of land is back by 21pc on the same time last year.

Some would say the absence of a vibrant dairy sector and the prevalence of beef and tillage farmers could explain the apparent lethargy in the land market in the region with sales nearer the border affected by the looming Brexit issues.

A total of 18 auctions saw almost 960ac change hands under the gavel in North Leinster netting €8.842m, down significantly on the €12.736m generated during the same period last year. The per acre price comes in at €9,216/ac slipping from €11,747 in the same period in 2017 representing a decline of 21pc.

The best price for land in the region was achieved when Raymond Potterton auctioneer saw €20,000/ac paid for 10ac with a derelict house at Oristown near Kells in Co Meath.

This 19th Century residence on 89ac at Johnstown, Co Westmeath was bought at auction by a local dairy farmer for €715,000
This 19th Century residence on 89ac at Johnstown, Co Westmeath was bought at auction by a local dairy farmer for €715,000

Coonans of Maynooth handled a sale that saw the next best price paid. A 62ac farm at Kilglynn in Kilcock, Co Meath sold under the hammer making €890,000 or €14,354/ac. In one of the bigger sales a 91ac farm near Edenderry in Co Offaly was sold by Matt Dunne making a fine €12,250/ac. The elevated roadside farm is made up of good dry ground and it is unusual for a farm of this size to achieve a strong per acre price like this.

The largest farm to sell under the hammer in the region was a 135ac holding near Edenderry that sold under the gavel of Wilsons Auctions for €1.03m making €7,630/ac. The next large farm to sell was a 120ac non-residential farm at Ballinacor in Co Westmeath which made €790,000 or €6583/ac under the gavel of Dillon Murtagh.

Gordon Cobbe of GVM Tullamore says the market in the region is far more buoyant than the auction season so far suggests. "The auction route is not the chosen route anymore, people are going private treaty more and more," he said.

Mr Cobbe sees a big move away from tillage to milk in the Offaly area. "I am aware of 1,000ac of tillage land in three farms that is currently being turned to grassland for dairying. We have a big sale of tillage machinery coming up shortly," he said, "a sign that people are moving out of the sector."

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Thomas Potterton saw no drought of money when he brought a 203ac farm for sale at Garristown in North Dublin.
Thomas Potterton saw no drought of money when he brought a 203ac farm for sale at Garristown in North Dublin.

Coonan auctioneers who straddle the North and South Leinster regions had a good, if late, early auction season. Philip Byrne of Coonans says there is still great demand for land. "We have sold most of what is on our books either at auction or very soon afterwards. Often the post auction sales are forgotten but they do happen. There is strong local demand and that is crucial for the market", he said.

The son of former IFA President and renowned Meath dairy farmer Tom Clinton bought a neighbouring 105ac farm last week for €960,000 or just over €9,000/ac. The sale price beat the pre-auction guide by €110,000.
The son of former IFA President and renowned Meath dairy farmer Tom Clinton bought a neighbouring 105ac farm last week for €960,000 or just over €9,000/ac. The sale price beat the pre-auction guide by €110,000.

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