Forestry companies now dominating land sales in parts of the west
Land Price Survey
Land sales in Connacht Ulster in terms of volume and value are usually somewhat behind the rest of the country but this year there is evidence of an improved market for land in the north and west.
The average price of land stands at €8,211/ac and thanks to the sale of two substantial and valuable farms in Galway and Roscommon there was a huge increase in the money generated by sales. It increased by 94pc on this time last year but excluding those two farms the trends would reflect what happened in the rest of the country: a decline in the amount of land sold but an increase in the value of what was sold.
The highest per acre price paid for land was given for a 27.5ac parcel of ground at Claregalway that sold under the hammer of Pat Callanan making €11,500/ac. The next best per acre price was paid in Co Monaghan at Castleshane where a 20.8ac parcel made €11,100/ac when sold by Crosbie and Graham.
The two largest farms sold comprised a 120ac residential farm at Moylough, Co Galway that sold in a transaction handled by Murtagh Bros Mullingar. The farm made €1.305m when it was bought by a group of local farmers bidding as one. A 125ac non-residential holding with extensive shedding at Tulsk in Co Roscommon made €1m under the hammer of John Earley and was also bought by local farmers.
Mr Earley has seen the price of land increase this year.
"I believe land in this area is now running at between €7,000 and €8,000/ac," he said, "there has been a steady rise in prices and while interest from the UK has declined there is rising interest from midland and southern buyers."
He has also seen the price for planting land go back somewhat. "While it reached highs of €5,000 to €5,500/ac it is now back to around €4,000/ac," he said.
Karl Fox of Fox and Gallagher in Ballina, Co Mayo agrees, saying the price of planting land is back to those levels. He also says that the price per acre averages in Mayo are dependent on size as well as location.
"Up to 10ac will get €7,000 to €10,000/ac, 10ac to 20ac will get €6,000 to €7,000/ac and over 20ac you're looking at €5,000 to €6,000/ac," he said.
He describes the land market in Mayo as very patchy. "Small pockets where there are active dairy farmers are doing well and you will have customers for small parcels. However, in drystock or sheep areas it is a harder sell," he said.
According to Mr Fox, the land market is a key indicator of the continued decline in population in many parts of Mayo.
"In isolated under-populated areas the forestry companies are the major buyers, a sure sign that population decline is continuing unabated in many parts of Mayo," he said.
There was a 150pc surge in the levels of forestry planted by non-farmers last year, official figures reveal.
The new Department of Agriculture data shows that 35pc of the total area planted in 2016 was carried out by non-farming private investors.
Counties with the highest proportion of non-farming investors - more than 40pc - include: Leitrim, Longford, Clare and Cavan.
However, forestry companies have been quick to point out that the sharp rise comes from a low baseline figure of just a 3pc nationwide increase in forestry last year.
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