Connacht/Ulster: Sales buoyant as 1,400ac changes hands
Farm sales in Connacht and Ulster were more than buoyant with all indicators on the ascendant apart from the average per acre price that fell somewhat.
A total of 27 successful auctions saw 1,400ac of land change hands in published auctions, marking a huge increase of 70pc on last year’s volume. Sales generating €9.193m, an increase of 47pc on the previous 12 months.
However, while the per acre price of €6,566 marked a drop of 14pc on 2017 the market that year was somewhat skewed by two unusual sales.
The most expensive piece of property sold at auction in the region in 2018 was a 10ac parcel of grazing ground at Teermore, Roscommon that made €13,200/ac under the gavel of Property Team Smith Kelly.
The largest farm to sell was a 168ac grass farm with an excellent range of farm buildings at Fourmilehouse, Roscommon. This made €1.8m or €10,714/ac at an auction conducted by John Earley. The next biggest sale was also handled by the same auctioneer and saw another Fourmilehouse farm sell under the gavel. The 150ac holding made €830,000 or €5,500/ac.
Among the higher prices paid for land in the region, an 8.5ac parcel of ground at Carrowmore sold by Headford Marts in Galway made €90,000 or over €10,000/ac.
A 50ac non-residential farm at Elphin in Roscommon came within a whisker of €10,000/ac when it made €493,000 or €9,900/ac while a 20ac non-residential property at Carrickcreeny, Cavan was sold for €191,000 or €9,550/ac.
Ivan Connaughton of Athleague had a significant sale when he sold a 126.4 acre farm on his doorstep for 805,000.
Sligo auctioneer John Murphy described the year as ‘good enough’ saying that while the land market might not have been as active as he might have wanted the floor for land prices is being maintained at €4,000 to €4,250/ac by forestry sector.
“Even people inheriting land who may not wish to dispose of it are looking at forestry as an option,” he said. “It’s a reasonable alternative generating an annual return of €250/ac tax free,” he added.
Across the border in Co Roscommon John Earley has had a busy year. “We sold 2,000ac of land in 2018 and it made around €15m. In the context of our overall business last year the land sales stood out,” he said. The UK buyer is still important in his region but, he says, there was strong farmer and local interest this past year. As regards finance he believes the banks appeared to loosen their purse strings as the year went on.
Karl Fox in Ballina had a good year but he observed that full-time farmers are quite absent from the market. “I sold a 65ac residential farm in lots towards the end of the year and while there was a full attendance and lively interest in all the lots there wasn’t one full-time farmer in the room,” he said, “the part-timers or the non-farmers are the main buyers of land”.
He agrees with John Murphy in neighbouring Sligo that forestry provides a floor for land prices, however, he says there is growing opposition to forestry and applications are increasingly attracting objections.
“Decent land near a main thoroughfare will sell, and there is always a customer for smaller parcels. Bigger holdings in isolated areas are a different proposition,” he said.
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