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A surge in lifestyle property sales over the past three months typified a strong end to spring for New Zealand's rural property market, according to latest figures.
A total of 281 farms were sold across the country in the three months to the end of November, 9.8 per cent more than the previous three-month period.
The Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) data also showed 1516 lifestyle properties were sold, 24 per cent more than in the same period last year and 10 per cent more than in the three months to October.
Lifestyle farm sales last month were the strongest for a November since 2007.
Compared to October, Auckland recorded the largest increase (+30 sales), followed by Canterbury (+22) and Northland (+17).
Things were looking solid and "reasonably optimistic" in the lifestyle market, said REINZ spokesman Brian Peacocke.
"The lifestyle market has seen a healthy increase in sales volume in November, with strong activity in Auckland and increasing activity in Waikato driven partially by buyer enquiry from Auckland and Australia.
"The Nelson and Marlborough regions have also seen a healthy increase in listings, and the Canterbury market remains strong."
REINZ's All Farm Price Index rose from 2852.46 to 3069.52 (+7.6 per cent) in the three months. The index was 5.4 per cent higher compared to November last year.
"The rural property market has had a strong finish to the spring selling season," Peacocke said.
"Several regions report the strongest level of activity in 2007, with a strong increase in the Far North, increased horticulture sales in Gisborne and strong demand for viticulture properties in Marlborough."
Overall farm sales - which do not include lifestyle blocks - in the three months were down (-10.8 per cent) compared to the same period last year.
On an annual basis, 1417 farms sold in the year to November was 23.4 per cent up on the year to November 2011.
The median price per hectare for all farms was $22,885, up 15.2 per cent on the previous three months and 11.9 per cent on November last year.
First farm buyers, particularly sharemilkers, were actively pursuing properties in Waikato and Taranaki, Peacocke said.
"Much of this activity is being stimulated by vendors being realistic about pricing and low interest rates on borrowing."
Seven regions recorded increases in sales volumes for the three months, led by Auckland with more 12 sales, and Nelson with six more.
-By Ben Chapman-Smith of nzherald.co.nz