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Mixed sentiments in south Leinster

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Ballymullen House on 126ac at Abbeyleix in Co. Laois was sold by auctioneer Joseph Coogan  in April for €1.3m after a marathon sale involving 103 bids

Ballymullen House on 126ac at Abbeyleix in Co. Laois was sold by auctioneer Joseph Coogan in April for €1.3m after a marathon sale involving 103 bids

Ballymullen House on 126ac at Abbeyleix in Co. Laois was sold by auctioneer Joseph Coogan in April for €1.3m after a marathon sale involving 103 bids

Land prices in South Leinster took a tumble in 2014, falling by 17.4pc on 2013 values. The average price paid in 2013 in this region came to €13,486/ac, whereas in 2014 the average was €11,143/ac.

However, a number of factors combined to deliver the sharp fall in the average price. Firstly the current survey is based on the results of 65 sales in the region in 2014 compared to 56 sales in 2013, a fact that would certainly dilute the average price paid.

Unusually for the region, quite a number of sales in 2014 also involved the disposal of larger holdings of marginal ground, which would also have put downward pressure on the overall average price paid.

It also needs to be pointed out that in 2013 the headline deal of the year in the region involved the sale of the 103ac Grangemore Stud in Kildare which made €3m or a stunning €30,000/ac.

There were no comparable sales in 2014.

For the purposes of the survey the South Leinster region consists of counties Laois, Kildare, Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny.

Of the 166 auctions covered in the survey, 65 took place in this region with a total of 2,704ac changing hands for a total of €30,139,500.

The estate of the late John McCarthy at Coolishall and Coolnastud near Gorey, Co Wexford attracted the biggest price paid for land in the region.

At an auction conducted by Kinsella Estates of Carnew and Gorey a total of 197ac of the McCarthy lands along with a residence and outbuildings were sold in lots for €2.95m.

The nearest result in terms of size and value was also delivered by a Wexford executor sale. In October the estate of the Rath brothers at Monawilling and Monagear, extending to 156ac, was sold for €1.83m or €11,700/ac McGuinness Lambert.

Tillage

Four other farms in the region broke the €1m barrier including a 108ac tillage holding at Thomastown, Kildare which was sold by Paddy Jordan for €1.76m.

Next in the order of merit came a 126ac residential farm near Abbeyleix in Laois which was sold for €1.3m by Castlecomer auctioneer Joseph Coogan.

Moving to Wicklow, 162ac of a residential farm at Farnees near Tinahely was sold in lots by Dawsons of Tullow for a total of €1.19m.

Back in Wexford, a 150ac non-residential farm near Enniscorthy sold for exactly €1m under the able hand of Frank McGuinness.

The best per acre price was secured by Paddy Jordan when he got €27,700/ac for a 9ac parcel of ground at Rathbride Cross near the Curragh in Co Kildare.

The next best was paid for 25ac of tillage ground at Danesfort, Kilkenny, which was sold by Kilkenny auctioneer Ed Donohoe for €20,000/ac.

In other sales, seven farms made between €17,000/ac and €20,000/ac, while 10 properties made between €14,000/ac and €17,000/ac.

A total of 13 farms made between €12,000/ac and €14,000/ac, while 14 properties made between €10,000/ac and €12,000/ac. Seven holdings went for between €8,000/ac and €10,000/ac, 11 properties made between €5,000/ac and €8,000/ac and just two farms sold for less than €5,000/ac.

Alan Kinsella of Kinsella Estates described 2014 as "an excellent year, far better than 2013." Not only are farmers back in the market but small builders are back buying parcels of land with development potential located near towns and villages.

Laois-based estate agent William Mansfield agrees that the private treaty and auction markets are livelier than they have been for some time.

Letting

"There is a great demand for good quality land. It is a hell of an improvement on recent years. Good land is the key, it is hard to sell poor land," he said.

Castlecomer-based auctioneer Joseph Coogan reported a huge increase demand for land, both for buying and letting.

"There was a huge demand for tillage and grazing land on the letting market and a huge demand for meadowing," he said.

"If you have your ducks in a row," he said, "the bank will facilitate you."

Maynooth-based auctioneer Willie Coonan described 2014 as "a first class year", with lots of activity.

While other auctioneers felt that borrowed money was becoming more available to farmers from the lending institutions, Mr Coonan maintains there was still a lot of cash floating around the land market.

He predicted that land prices will increase by 5-10pc in 2015.

Reflecting some of the findings of this survey, David Quinn of Quinn Properties, said that he noticed an increase in the volume of sales in the region but not necessarily in the price.

"As the year wore on I detected a decline in the number of customers," he said.

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