Land volumes down, prices up in north Leinster
In normal times the land market in North Leinster has always been buoyant with strong sales and much land changing hands in Meath Westmeath and Louth. Prices generally reflect their proximity to the Greater Dublin Area, the good old GDA.
However, cold northern winds generated by Brexit have cooled the land market in this region leaving the number of successful published auctions down to seven compared to 17 for the same period last year.
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The amount of land changing hands in the period declined from 876ac in the early months of 2018 to just over 257ac this year marking a huge drop of over 70pc.
The money taken at auction went down from €8.19m between January and June 2018 to €3.2m in the first six months of the current year, a cliff-edge fall of more than 60pc.
There is good news on the per-acre front which shows that the average per acre price rose by almost 33pc from €9,346/ac in 2018 to €12,412/ac in the current year.
This would tend to support the contention of auctioneers in the region who believe that a vendor problem rather than a buyer problem is contributing to the state of the market.
People with land to sell are holding off while buyers are willing to invest.
It should also be noted that there was a number of successful auctions in the region in late June but these did not appear in the papers until early July and are therefore not eligible for inclusion in this survey.
The region saw the highest per-acre price in the entire country for the first six months paid in this region.
A 25ac parcel of ground at Powderlough, Dunshaughlin made €675,000 or €27,000/ac when it sold under the hammer of Sherry FitzGerald Sherry. Frank Flynn of Robert B Daly auctioneers saw €15,560/ac paid for a 13.8ac piece of grazing ground at Garristown in north Dublin while over the border in Co Meath Coonans of Maynooth sold a 54ac non-residential holding at Longwood for €675,000 or €12,500/ac.
Mullingar's Padraic Murtagh of James L Murtagh saw €11,600/ac or €280,000 paid for 24ac of ground near Killucan in Westmeath. Trim auctioneer Thomas Potterton brought a 25ac parcel of grazing ground at Kildalkey, Co Meath to auction in May and saw it make €280,000 or €11,300/ac.
The two largest land sales in the region were handled by Raymond Potterton auctioneers who sold a 56ac farm at Bellewstown, Trim making €530,000 or €9,464/ac while on the same day the firm sold a 60ac holding at Clondavin, Trim for €545,000 or €9,083.
Along with the looming threat of Brexit, auctioneer Thomas Potterton says the state of the beef industry and the poor grain prices are dampening the market.
Remarking that the land never looked better after a kind spring and summer he says it is hard to understand the dynamics of the current property scene. "I have achieved good prices," he said, pointing to the sale of a farm in Kells he sold jointly with Robert Nixon in recent weeks that made €12,500/ac.
"There is a lot of caution around. I have seen this in the option many vendors are taking to go private treaty. I generally prefer to go the auction route," he said.
Padraic Murtagh of James L Murtagh auctioneers, Mullingar agrees.
"Quite a few properties that had been up for auction last year went 'sale agreed' by private treaty in the spring.
"Things have been slower but we often find that the market in the autumn is very busy. We have some bigger farms coming later in the year," he said.
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