The number of farms being sold is well down compared to year ago while prices are holding up well, according to the latest rural property report from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.
It shows 443 farms were sold in three months to the end of May, down 13.8% compared to the same period of last year.
However the REINZ All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in the size, type and location of farms sold, was up 5.8% compared to a year ago.
"The 2017/2018 farm sales season ended on a good note with sales figures reflecting a solid degree of confidence, albeit an easing in volumes from an annual perspective," REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.
That confidence appeared to have been reflected in attendance and purchase figures at the recent National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, he said, reinforced by an improving dairy payout, strong markets for beef and lamb and continuing low interest rates.
However there was also one large dark cloud hanging over the rural sector.
"The optimism stemming from an extremely benevolent autumn has been dominated by the pervasive impact of mycoplasma bovis disease, which is having a dramatic financial and social impact on many in the rural sector," Peacocke said.
"Time will tell if the Ministry of Primary Industries in tandem with other animal health entities and the wider farming community are to be successful with the current plan to eradicate as opposed to managing this difficult to detect disease," he said.
This was also reflected in lower sales volumes and prices of dairy farms, with 74 dairy properties selling in the three months to May, down 17% on the same period of last year, while the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index was down 8.2% compared to a year ago.
On the lifestyle front, 2129 lifestyle properties were sold in the three months to the end of May, down 7.6% compared to the same period of last year, while May's median lifestyle block price of $675,000 was up 7.7% compared to May last year.
For data on rural sales per hectare, see this.