‘Safe havens’: Rural farming properties attract top dollar
Record beef prices, low interest rates and rising land values are driving demand for rural properties as buyers seek a lifestyle change and a “safe haven” investment in the new COVID world.
Despite some of the worst drought conditions in generations, the rains are back — and so is the money — in the Queensland bush, according to industry players.
If you thought Noosa’s prestige property market had produced some eyewatering sale prices of late, wait until you hear how much some rural properties have been fetching across the state.
By far the biggest rural property transaction in Queensland in the past 12 months was the sale of a huge cattle breeding operation owned by Clark and Tait in the state’s west.
The 133,700ha property called Mantuan Downs, in Springsure, sold to the North Australian Pastoral Company for a staggering $92.6 million, including close to 12,000 cattle.
Independent valuer Herron Todd White’s latest report reveals the state’s rural property market is on fire, with agricultural land being seen as a safe haven asset in times of uncertainty.
Prices are strong, with values in some areas such as Blackall hitting record highs of up to $1000/ha, and while price points are high, the valuer believes the long-term capital gains have proven to be “exceptional”.
Ray White Rural Queensland principal Jez McNamara says there has been strong demand for rural properties in the past 12 months, due to low interest rates, the low Australian dollar and good commodity prices.
McNamara says agricultural land prices have increased between 10 and 30%.
Most of the demand was now coming from Australian grazing families, rather than overseas.
“Families are seeing a really good future, so they’re expanding while they’ve got the opportunity,” McNamara says.
“People are looking for assets to complement their existing holdings.
“Stock is low, but there are opportunities for buyers out there, and as spring comes on, we’ll start to see more properties hit the market.”
McNamara says there has also been a strong increase in demand for rural lifestyle properties within 2 hours drive of Brisbane since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve definitely seen a strong lift from Brisbane families looking for lifestyle properties since COVID,” he says.
“A lot of companies are realising they don’t need staff in the office five days a week, so people who’ve always wanted that rural lifestyle are happy to commute for three days or so.”
Herron Todd White Central Queensland director Will McLay says the central Queensland market was being driven by record beef prices, low interest rates and a switch in buyers from investors to owner-occupiers.
“The family sector is probably more dominant now as the institutional investors are being squeezed out by yield compression,” McLay says.
“Rapidly rising land values have added balance sheet strength and borrowing power to the family sector, and private family acquisitions of $20 million to $50 million are relatively common.”
McLay says developed scrub blocks and pastures with high grower/finishing capacities are the most highly sought after properties.
On the Gold Coast, the market has been driven by locals looking to increase their land holdings with a number of smaller (under $5 million) transactions taking place between adjoining owners.
“Larger parcels with multiple titles are attractive to buyers, and the low interest rate environment is attractive,” McLay says.
“A number of buyers are looking at future returns on investment with the ability to boundary realign and sell off part of properties to reduce debt.”
In the Toowoomba region, one of the biggest sales so far this year is that of Welltown Station, west of Goondiwindi.
Herron Todd White’s Stephen Cameron says it is understood the 9.5ha holding sold for about $32 million to a local, large-scale pig operator with mixed grazing/farming country.
Another significant sale was that of the 16ha Marionvale Station near Greenvale, which sold at auction for $11.45 million, including cattle and plant items.
Cameron says market prices have continued rising despite the COVID-19 lockdowns, with local buyers starting to replace southern buyers from NSW and South Australia.
“The locals have now taken charge,” Cameron says.
“Their confidence is being driven by low interest rates and strong cattle pricing. Guess why the cattle pricing is strong? Because it rained down in the southern country.”
10 OF THE TOP RURAL PROPERTY SALES IN QLD IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS
1. “Mantuan Downs” in Springsure, a 134,744ha property, sold for $92.6 million (recorded as $78.625 million excluding stock and equipment) in December 2019
2. “Terrick Terrick” in Blackall, a 54,800ha property, sold for $40 million to listed company, AAM
3. “Welltown Station”, west of Goondiwindi, a 9.5ha holding, sold for about $32 million to a local, large-scale pig operator with mixed grazing/farming country
4. “Deearne” in Cockatoo, near Taroom, a 7,120ha holding, sold for $22.5 million in December 2019 to a Central Queensland grazier
5. “Bowen Bowen Downs” in Aramac, comprising three adjoining properties of 15 freehold and 2 leasehold titles of about 44,909 ha, sold for $19.5 million prior to auction to an adjoining land owner
6. “Broadlands” in Nindooinbah, a 1,344ha parcel with 9 freehold titles, sold for $19.4 million in October 2019
7. “Solferino”, north of a Clermont, a 6851ha mixed grazing/farming property, sold at auction earlier this year for $18.9 million
8. “Retreat Station” in Windorah, a 142,601ha holding, sold in August 2019 for $17 million
9. “Geddesvale” in Auburn, a 6271ha property, sold in March 2020 for $16.9 million
10. “Marionvale Station” near Greenvale, a 16ha property, sold at auction for $11.45 million, including cattle and plant items.
(Source: Herron Todd White)
This article from The Courier Mail originally appeared as “Money back in the bush: Rural properties fetching top dollar”.