Farm prices eased back in May although dairy farm prices went against the trend and showed a surprisingly strong gain, according to the latest rural sales figures from the Real Estate Institute of NZ.
The REINZ All Farm Price Index, which records sales of all types of farm properties and adjusts for differences in farm size, type and location, dropped 1.2% in the three months to May compared to the three months to April.
Compared to the three months to May last year it was down 4.1%.
The median price per hectare of all farms sold in the three months to May was $26,683, down 11.1% compared to the three months to April and down 6.6% compared to May last year.
The number of farms sold was more of a mixed bag, with 489 farms of all types selling in the three months to May. This was up 20.2% compared to the three months to April, but down 2.7% compared to May last year.
In the year to May 1766 farms of all types were sold, 1.1% more than were sold in the previous 12 months.
Dairy Farm Price Index up 7.3%
But there was a some good news for the beleaguered dairy sector in the latest figures, with the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in dairy farm size and location, rising 7.3% in the three months to May compared to the three months to April, although it was still down 14.8% compared to May last year.
Sixty dairy farms were sold in the three months to May compared to 52 in the three months to April and 87 in the three months to May last year.
Grazing properties had the highest number of sales, accounting for 35% of all farm sales in the three months to May, followed by finishing properties at 22%, horticulture blocks 17% and dairy farms 12%.
REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said the strength of sales of finishing and grazing properties was encouraging.
"Demand for quality beef and arable farms is greater than supply, indicating a widespread shortage of listings, and sales values for kiwifruit orchards are confounding all expectations," he said.
The lifestyle block market remained exceptionally buoyant, with the number of sales and median price both hitting all time highs.
There were a record breaking 2518 lifestyle blocks sold in the three months to May.
That was up 22% compared to the same period of last year, and was the highest number ever recorded since the REINZ began collating the data 20 years ago.
The median price of lifestyle blocks also hit a new record high of $575,500 for the three months to May, which was up 2.8% compared to the same period last year.
"Auckland-based purchasers continue to make their presence felt in all regions north of Taupo, particularly where solid employment options exist," Peacocke said.