Some farmers may have started taking their tractors for a Sunday drive down Queen Street to convince everyone they're doing it tough, but the latest rural property figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand suggest times can't be too bad down on the farm.
Prices for farms and lifestyle blocks are both well up on where they were 12 months ago, with the REINZ reporting that the rural economy "is in good heart."
According to the REINZ All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in the mix of farms sold by size, type and location, overall prices for farms sold in the three months to the end of October were up 18.2% compared to the same period of last year.
The REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in the mix of sales by size and location, was up 9.9% in the three months to the end of October compared to a year earlier.
Lifestyle block prices are also up strongly compared to a year ago.
The median price of all lifestyle blocks sold over the three months to the end of October was $951,902, up by $178,552 (+23%) compared to the same period of last year.
The biggest price increase was for farmlet lifestyle blocks, with their median price hitting $1,215,000 over the three months to October this year, up by $280,000 (+29.9%) compared to a year earlier.
The median price for bare land lifestyle blocks sold in the three months to October was $470,000, up $69,5000 (+17.4%) compared to the same period of last year.
So while some farmers would have us believe the rural sector is on its knees, that's certainly not showing up in the prices people are prepared to pay for rural property.
"The overall rural sector, which has been grappling with issues related to the environment, water, labour, and like other sectors, the impact of Covid-19, received some welcome news recently with much improved access negotiated for the UK market," REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.
"The impact of this is likely to have tremendous potential for our rural producers and may start to ease our dependence upon other markets, which currently claim dominance on the world stage.
"October has ushered in a great spring for much of rural New Zealand, and as the battering winds ease, increasing sunshine hours are allowing grass to respond to the beneficial rain which much of the country has been receiving.
"Product prices are currently continuing an upward trend, with increasing returns benefitting the dairy, sheep, beef and horticultural sectors alike.
"Spring of 2021 is notable also for the emerging trend of tangible support for the rural sector from trading banks, much to the relief of many, although a careful eye is being kept on the upward trend in interest rates.
"In summary, the rural economy is in very good heart," Peacocke said.
More detailed data on farm sales is available here.
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