Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

'UK-based buyers are now the mainstay of our land sales'

Roscommon-based auctioneer John Earley says UK-based buyers are now the mainstay of his land sales, writes Jim O'Brien.

"Three out of the last four farms I sold were bought with sterling," he said.

"The rate is very attractive and the investment opportunity afforded by the tax incentives gives a great return."

Roscommon as a county experienced a lot of emigration to the UK and many emigrants contemplate coming home or at least owning a piece of 'the old sod.'

But owning a piece of home ground is not just based on blind nostalgia or sentiment, explains Mr Earley, it is based on good financial analysis.

"If a person buys a 50ac farm for €5,000/ac it will cost them £177,000 in sterling. If they lease that land at €150/ac on a long-term lease they will make €7,500 tax-free each year, which is a 3pc tax fee return on their investment.

"No bank or investment house will give you a return like that currently," said Mr Earley

In recent weeks Mr Early sold a 170ac farm to a UK based couple for €1.5m. He also sold a 40ac place with an old dwelling for €250,000 to another UK buyer and he got €380,000 for a 38ac farm from a third UK dweller.

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"With the value of sterling and the value of land here they are making a sensible investment with a good return," he said.

He expects the sterling buyer to continue to have an impact in the rural property market in Roscommon in 2016.

Pat O'Hagan of Savills also expects 2016 to be very busy in land sales. "We have previewed a lot of fine properties that are being held over until the New Year.

"People believe that there is an increasing confidence in the market and they expect conditions to be even better next year," he said.

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