THE rural property market remained generally subdued in 2013 from a local level, however, interest from corporate buyers and offshore investors held strong, making a positive platform for 2014.
Elders NSW real estate manager Denis McGrath said the 2013 property market had been somewhat slower than the previous year.
“I think vendors’ expectations have been a bit higher than where the market has been,” Mr McGrath said.
“Seasonal conditions also haven’t helped those who have been wanting to sell.”
However, Mr McGrath said in his 23 years as a rural real estate agent, he had seen more properties sold in a dry year than in a good year.
The number of properties available on the market was lower than average, which contributed to the more subdued market last year, he said.
“However, there have been some exceptional sales, particularly to overseas investors and corporate buyers,” he said.
“Generally these buyers are looking for a minimum of a $10 million package.”
He said he had received inquiries from Chinese buyers for farming and grazing country.
Generally, properties valued at under $5 million were targeted by local buyers, although it was hard to find buyers in the $5 to $10 million bracket.
Mr McGrath tipped values would remain relatively on par in 2014, but he expected a “very busy year”.
Prospective buyers would watch any potential further interest rate cuts closely, which would give more confidence.
“I think it will be a pretty good year for rural property,” he said.
Landmark Harcourts real estate sales manager, corporate, Phil Rourke, said there had been more limited local activity at the family farm end of the market, but more encouraging from corporate buyers and offshore investors.
“It has been a drier 12 months, and some properties have been hard to move,” he said.
“There has been very selective demand, mostly for the larger scale dryland farming properties.
“On the positive side, there has been good offshore investment.”
Ray White joint chairman Paul White said it had been encouraging to see more rural property sales in the mid-range in 2013.
“There’s not been a lot of huge sales, in fact the majority of movement has been in the $1.5 million to $5 million bracket,” Mr White said.
Among the highlights was the long-awaited sale of the 5314 hectare (13,132ac) Riverpoint Aggregation at Narromine, incorporating “Buddah”, “Riverpoint” and “Kansas Plains”, which sold in early November for a discounted $19.2 million through Rob Southwell, Ray White Rural Namoi Valley.
Mr Southwell said the property – on the market since 2006 – was one of the most fertile, water abundant and best-designed irrigation farms he had seen.
Meares and Associates chief executive Chris Meares said there had been some return in buyer confidence.
“While the market for top end lifestyle rural properties has been subdued, we have seen the start of a lift in the market with the return of investor confidence since the federal election,” Mr Meares said.
He said the trend was expected to continue and the market for properties in the rural lifestyle sector would “continue to firm up”.
Colliers International director of rural and agribusiness, Tim Altsch-wager said offshore investors were among the major buyers in 2013.
“High net worth individuals or families, and institutional investors – particularly offshore funds seeking to diversify their portfolios – will continue to feature strongly among purchasers,” he said.
“These buyers have the quantum of capital required and are prepared to take a longer term view on agricultural investment.
“Demand is likely to focus on larger rural and agribusiness assets offering either economies of scale or value-add opportunities.”
The Colliers International 2014 Property Outlook report points to improved sentiment and market confidence at a local level.
At the top end, increased allocations of funds into agriculture and a positive global commodities outlook were expected to help drive activity.
The report found there had been solid interest in large cropping properties in reliable rainfall areas this year.