North-south divide has opened up on farmland sales
A GROWING north-south divide is the story from the auction rooms during the first five months of 2019. Sales in Munster and south Leinster continue to be buoyant, while auction sales have all but collapsed north of a line between Dublin and Galway.
Most commentators blame the Brexit uncertainty, and it appears the closer one is to the border, the bigger the impact.
A survey of auctions held between January and the beginning of June show that the acreage sold at auction in north Leinster declined by 92pc compared to the same period in 2018, while the amount of money generated from these sales went down by 85pc on the same period last year.
In Connacht and Ulster, the acreage sold declined by 64pc, while the amount of money generated declined by 85pc.
Nationally, the number of acres sold at auction for the period stood at 1,703ac, down 26pc on last year's sales, while the amount of money generated decreased by 11pc.
The average auction price nationally in the first five months of the year is €13,970/ac, an increase of 16pc.
A total of 27 auctions reported on in the national papers were looked at, of which 22 took place in south Leinster and Munster; 46 auctions had taken place in the same period last year. South Leinster saw an increase of 9pc in acreage sold and Munster saw a massive 40pc increase in acreage sold in comparison to 2018.
In a report published by Sherry FitzGerald Research, Roseanne de Vere Hunt, head of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, Farms and Estates, blames Brexit for the decline in sales.
"The opening quarter of 2019 for the agri market has been overshadowed by events in Westminster, with great uncertainty with vendors and purchasers holding back on making decisions," she said
"A reprieve has been given to the end of the year with Brexit, which may stabilise the market somewhat until then."
Gordon Cobbe of GVM Tullamore feels that vendors in particular are pushing decisions out.
"The buyers are there," he said, "but the sellers are holding tough. There's lots of money around, but everyone is holding back."
Stephen Barry of Pottertons Navan concurs. "We had no major weather, fodder or financial crisis in the spring of this year. I know that Brexit has been holding people back, especially at this end of the country. I think vendors are wrong: there is money around and there are customers - you only have to look at the market down south to know that."
With another Brexit deadline looming in October, most commentators are not hopeful about a last-minute rush for the autumn auction season.
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