THE past year in rural property has been one characterised by varied seasonal conditions in the northern and southern parts of NSW, with sales in those areas influenced by the performance of the season.
Confidence and interest was considered to be fairly strong across parts of the State with pleasing seasonal conditions, however, areas in the north and North West were still feeling the effects of the dry in the property market.
Agents, however, highlight it is important to take a long-term view of the benefits of agricultural investment, pointing to expectations of a bright future ahead.
Landmark Harcourts rural property sales manager, corporate, Phil Rourke, Sydney, described the 2014 rural property market in NSW as a year of two halves, with areas to the north of Dubbo, and in the North West of NSW, continuing to face dry conditions.
"I think it has been tough enough," he said.
Yet he said conditions in the south of NSW were generally more positive.
"The better end of properties particularly in the southern parts of NSW have generated quite of bit of interest."
He said until seasonal conditions improved, and more money was injected into the rural economy, he didn't expect to see large price increases.
"I don't think that much will change, certainly in the next 12 months," he said.
"We will need a couple of good seasons."
Long term, however, he said that with growing interest in agriculture, and in feeding the world, he believed agricultural investment would be a sound and solid investment.
"The off-shore investors, investment funds and the superannuation funds are still active," he said.
"There was a bit of movement in the year in that space."
He said there had been some good inquiry for the larger corporate broadacre dryland farming operations, as well as beef producing enterprises.
Colliers International national director of rural and agribusiness Tim Altschwager, also said that across the Australian rural property market there had been good interest in 2014 from offshore-based funds.
"These buyers are prepared to take a longer term view on agricultural investment," Mr Altschwager said.
"The Australian rural property market has remained steady in the last 12 months, with the strongest interest focused on horticulture (particularly nuts), wine assets and large cropping enterprises in assured rainfall areas.
"There are still some areas that have yet to stabilise, with significant portions of Queensland and areas of northern NSW still experiencing very poor seasonal conditions."
He said 2015 was expected to be a period of consolidation for rural land prices, and as such there was likely to be neutral value movement.
"Importantly, market confidence is a critical component and improved sentiment is steadily building at a neighbour-to-neighbour level."
Among some of the good rural property opportunities expected next year included wine and beef properties.
"Moving into 2015, we expect demand to focus on larger rural and agribusiness assets offering either economies of scale or value-add opportunities through vertical chain ownership."
Ray White Rural Forbes director Ian Simpson - who has sold more than $25 million of rural property in the past 12 months - said he had seen more confidence in his area, thanks to some good seasonal conditions.
"Generally, what I have been seeing in our region are better values for properties, we are seeing a lot more turnover."
He said marketing had played a role in this, with a "fishing net" approach to marketing, spread across online and print, as and such he had seen buyers coming from across the country.
"There's more confidence, and buyer activity has increased."
There have been some strong results across the rural property market in NSW in 2014, particularly in the south of the State, as evidenced by the recent sale of the 40,000 hectare (about 98,842ac) "Kooba" aggregation in the Riverina (at Darlington Point, Carrathool and Euabalong) for $116 million, which was purchased by Webster Limited from Ag Reserves Australia Limited.
A selection of other notable property sales reported by The Land this year include the Bungendore property "Foxlow".
The 7519ha (18,580ac) grazing property sold for $15m to an Australian buyer through Terry Brennan and Bruce Gunning, Ray White Rural Sydney.
Narromine mixed farming property “Buddah Lake”, with 411ha (1016ac) of developed irrigation, was sold for an undisclosed price earlier this year through Trangie Livestock and Property after having been listed for sale post-auction at $6.5m.
“Booabula”, a 6745ha (16,667ac) Wanganella property was sold under the hammer for $4.36m through Landmark Deniliquin.
“Kippilaw”, a 162ha (400ac) Goul-burn property with an historic sandstone house, was sold through online auction in March for $4.2m through Meares and Associates, Sydney.
Meares and Associates also sold the Coolah district property, “Booya-murra”, of about 1893ha (4678ac) for an undisclosed price considered in a range from $7m to $8m.
At Mudgee, the 1191ha (2294ac) “Warrangunyah” was sold for a undisclosed amount through Peter Druitt and Company, Mudgee, after being passed in at auction in May on a vendor bid of $3m, and then listed for private sale at $3.3m.
Later in the year, the 910ha (2248ac) Bylong Valley property “Wingarra” was sold by Peter Druitt and Company for $4.175m.
The 1418ha (3504ac) Gundagai property “Cleveden” was sold in the middle of the year through Miller and James, Temora, for a price considered close to the asking price of $6.45m.
In July, it was reported that the 415ha (1026ac) Dungog historic property “Wirragulla” was sold for an undisclosed price through Dillon and Sons, Dungog, after having been listed for sale by expressions of interest at about $4m in late 2013.
The 889ha (2196ac) Yeoval property “Searock” was sold through Ian Simpson and Simon Southwell, Ray White Rural, for about $3.294m.
In the Wallangra district (north east of Warialda) the Ena aggregation comprising 3540ha (8747ac) was sold through Clayton Smith and Denis McGrath, Elders, to Moree buyers after being passed in at auction in September for $6.5m, with the property secured after a higher offer was made.
The 8522ha (21,058ac) Barry Station, at Nundle, was sold for an undisclosed price believed to be substantially higher than the passed-in price of $3.1m at the June auction; it was sold through Elders Tamworth and Peter Etheridge Properties, Tamworth.
“Cumberoona” at Binda, comprising 1552ha (3834ac) was sold for an undisclosed price higher than the passed in amount of $4.3m at the October auction; it was sold through Landmark Harcourts.
The 27,853ha (68,826ac) “Ballandool” at Hebel, Queensland, was sold at auction for $6.8m through Ray White Rural Queensland.