Data released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed there were 281 farm sales in the three months to the end of November, down 34 from the corresponding period last year, while 1417 farms were sold in the year to November, up 23.4% on the year to November 2011.
The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to November was $22,885, a 15.2% increase on the $19,872 for the three months ended October.
There was a strong increase in activity in the Far North, increased horticulture sales in Gisborne, and strong demand for viticulture properties in Marlborough, REINZ rural market spokesman Brian Peacocke said.
After a noticeable period of absence, first-farm buyers, particularly sharemilkers, were actively pursuing properties in Waikato and Taranaki. Much of that activity was being stimulated by vendors being realistic about pricing and low interest rates on borrowing, he said.
Grazing properties accounted for the largest number of sales,
at 49.1% of all sales over the three months. Finishing properties accounted for 15.7%, horticulture 11% and dairy properties 10.7%.
In Otago, there were 29 sales for the three months ended November, up three from the corresponding period in 2011 and up 17 from 2010.
The lifestyle property market saw a 24.1% increase in sales volume in the three months to November compared with the corresponding period last year, and sales in the month of November were the strongest since November 2007.
Southland recorded the shortest number of days to sell in October at 46 days, followed by Otago at 48 days.
The lifestyle market had seen a healthy increase in sales volume in November, with strong activity in Auckland and increasing activity in Waikato, driven partially by buyer inquiry from Auckland and Australia, Mr Peacocke said.
The Nelson and Marlborough regions had also seen a healthy increase in listings and the Canterbury market remained strong. The overall tone for the market appeared solid and ''reasonably optimistic'', Mr Peacocke said.