Big drop in Otago farm sales; NZ sales down 21%

Otago has recorded the largest decline in farm sales across the country, down by 27 on a year ago while nationally sales dipped 21%, down by more than 100 properties.

Ten of 14 regions recorded declines in farm sales for the quarter ended December, with Otago booking the most substantial decline, down 27 sales followed by Northland down 25 sales, while Southland was one of only three regions with an increase, up three sales.

Overall, farm sales nationally for the quarter plunged 105 from 499 for the same quarter last year to 394, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said the sales were a reflection of two key factors which impacted on the rural sector - weather and prices.

''The extraordinarily cold, wet early spring pitched straight into arid conditions, which pushed some regions close to declarations of drought pre-Christmas,'' Mr Peacocke said in a statement.

Several regions experienced what appeared to be record numbers of farms on the market, raising concerns regarding values and supply outstripping demand.

''[However] the outcome saw a slight easing in values in some categories of land use, albeit there were exceptions to the rule,'' he said.

For the year to December, there were 1565 farms sold.

That was 10.2% fewer than 2016, but 19.4% more finishing farms were sold, along with 45.5% more dairy farms, 28.3% fewer grazing properties and 36.8% less arable farms.

For the quarter to December, the median sales price per hectare for dairy farms was $40,484, across 79 properties, down from $46,397, over 72 properties, for the same period a year ago.

The median price per hectare for dairy farms decreased 12.7% in 2017.

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