The market for agricultural land appears to be levelling off with auctioneers nationwide reporting slower sales and fewer cash buyers in the market.
The beef crisis, disappointing financial returns from a bumper cereal harvest and indications that a majority of dairy farmers with plans to expand have already bought are contributing to the slow- down in sales according to auctioneers. "It appears that buyers are falling back on the lending institutions and the process of lending money is much slower than it was. This is not conducive to buying at public auction," said Tipperary auctioneer Seamus Browne.
He withdrew a 56ac residential farm, guided at €600,000, from auction last Thursday after it was bid to €450,000 by a local farmer.
Roscommon auctioneer John Earley is holding a multi-auction of nine properties next week. "I am not getting the phone calls as soon as the signs go up and the people you would expect to have interest in a place are not expressing interest," he said.
It's a similar story in Kilkenny. "Last week I put signs on small parcels of land and was sure I would get plenty of interest but the keen interest doesn't seem to be there," said Castlecomer-based auctioneer Joseph Coogan.
AS land sales continue apace in both the private treaty market and auction rooms, Kilkenny auctioneer Pat Gannon says business is steady and prices are good.
In recent weeks, an 11ac parcel of ground near Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny was withdrawn from auction at €130,000 and sold soon after for a considerably higher price.
Meanwhile a 7ac parcel, in the centre of the village of Stoneyford was withdrawn at €100,000 and sold for a higher price making over €15,000/ac.
Further north, a residential farm extending to 56ac at Ballybritt, Roscrea, was withdrawn from auction last Thursday after being bid to €450,000 by a local farmer. Located 5km from Roscrea on the Kinnitty road, the holding is described by Roscrea auctioneer, Seamus Browne as a 'nice traditional farm with powerful land'.
The residence is a four-bedroom, traditional two-storey detached farmhouse located at the end of a short avenue. Modern features include double glazed windows and solid fuel central heating.
Re-wired in recent years the house needs further refurbishment. To the rear is a farmyard comprising a four-span cattle shed, two stables, a five-span hay shed and lean-to.
The land is laid out in five fields located to the side and rear of the farmyard. The ground is described by Mr Browne as excellent quality land without an inch of soft ground or waste.
Most of the farm was previously in tillage but is now in fenced pasture paddocks with their own water supply.
Proceedings at auction opened with one bid of €400,000 and the same bidder, a local farmer increased his offer to €450,000 before the property was withdrawn, quite a distance from its guide of €600,000.
Seamus Browne is in discussion with the highest bidder along with other interested parties that emerged after the auction.
He believes the land on its own is worth between €425,000 and €475,000 with the house and yard worth in the region of €100,000.
However, he adds that a lot of the cash that was available in the land market has dried up.
It appears that buyers are falling back on the lending institutions and the knock-on effect is being experienced in the auction rooms.