Forestry investors continue to drive marginal land sales

The floor price of forestry land is expected to rise
The floor price of forestry land is expected to rise
Pat Davitt is chief executive of Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers. Photo:
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Prices for forestry land remain strong, with investors increasingly opting to plant on marginal lands traditionally used for grazing, the latest agricultural land study reveals.

The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers' (IPAV) agri survey found there is increased activity in the land market this year but it is off a low base, with just 0.5pc of land changing hands last year.

The report highlighted that younger farmers appear more interested in the quality of land and are willing to "migrate" to other parts of the country.

IPAV's chief executive Pat Davitt said Brexit was continuing to impact on agriculture and it was "very difficult" to predict the direction of land values for the remainder of this year.

Alan Bracken of SF Davitt and Davitt in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, said prices were reaching €10,000/ac for quality lands.

"An interesting recent development is that Northern-based farmers are now looking at purchasing farms in the south as a result of the uncertainty created by Brexit. Finance to purchase land is not available," he said.

John Earley of Property Partners Earley, Roscommon, reported a pick-up since last autumn. He said there has been high demand for marginal lands of over 40ac for forestry, with prices achieved in the €4,000-5,000 region.

Karl Fox of Fox and Gallagher, Ballina, Co Mayo said prices of up to €5,000/ac were being achieved for forestry.

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"Proximity to an urban centre is important," he said.

In the south, agri consultant Mike Brady of Brady Partners, Cork, said prices are static in all areas except forestry, which has seen a rise. "However, it is very dependent on location," he said.

Mr Brady said the prices achieved for quality farmland are in the €10,000-15,000 range.

John Hodnett, from Hodnett Forde, in Clonakilty, west Cork, said supply of lands for sale is down due to landowners agreeing long leases with farmers.

He said Brexit was not a factor in his area, with prices for land reaching €15,000/ac and €320/ac for good rental land.

In the east, Eamon O'Flaherty of Property Partners Brady, Maynooth, Co Kildare said demand is primarily coming from "hobby farmers or bloodstock enterprises", with access to finance a significant problem.

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