Moonbah, a renowned sheep and agricultural farm north of Condobolin in central New South Wales, sold for $720,000 above its reserve in an online auction on Thursday, underscoring strong demand for prime farmland from cashed-in farmers looking to expand.
Competition from five bidders for the 3,222-hectare property at 460 Moonbah Lane pushed the final sale price under the hammer to $8.42 million after bidding opened at $6.2 million.
The winning bidder was a farming family from the NSW Riverina.
Moonbah was offered for sale for the first time in 50 years by merino breeders Ian and Jane Menzies.
Ray White’s sales agent Paddy Ward said that although there were some concerns about selling such a large property via an online auction (due to the foreclosure across NSW), the event had taken place “like a firecracker”.
“We had bidders from all over the country, including the southern tablelands, central Victoria, the Riverina, the mid-west. South Australia and Western Australia,” Mr Ward said. The Australian Financial Review.
As rural land values soar amid stiff competition between corporate investors and local farmers, Ward said the Condobolin area still offers good value for money.
“People who are looking to increase the size of their operations, but who are being driven out of their own area due to high prices, are moving to Condobolin,” he said.
“Moonbah Buyers Expand Their Mixed Farming Business.”
He added that there was a “changing of the guard” in terms of ownership, with aging farmers selling to younger operators if they are unable to pass on their properties.
“The Menzies retire to a rural center,” Mr. Ward said.
Amid this strong demand for prime agricultural properties, Financial Review Rich Lister Sir Michael Hintze has listed another property within his livestock and crop business MH Premium Farms as part of a portfolio reweighting, to following the $100 million acquisition of Large Scale Crops. South Callandoon property earlier this year.
After listing the 12,548 hectare Marshmead aggregation at Walgett in northern New South Wales in August, the UK-based hedge fund manager has appointed Elders Gunnedah agent Ian McArthur to market the Sylvania property from the Gunnedah area of MHPF this spring.
The 3444 hectare mixed farm operation – one of the largest aggregations in the region – includes 2400 hectares cultivated for crops and 685 hectares of open pasture.
“We would expect a range of $3800 per ha to $4300 per ha, but I would expect that to be exceeded once people take a look at the property,” said Mark Barber , Head of Agribusiness Investment Services at Elders.
“The property comes to market at a time when there are high levels of liquidity in the family farming sector and strong demand from corporate and institutional investors, as well as local farmers looking to expand.
“The strength of the market is due to low interest rates, strong fundamentals for red meat, grains and oilseeds and exceptional seasonal conditions.
“Farming families are looking for where to deploy capital and are very optimistic about their future in farming.”
MHPF CEO Ed Dunn said Sylvania was being sold because it no longer fit the company’s long-term strategy.
“We view the adjustments to our portfolio as a very positive sign of our commitment to investing in Australian agriculture by allowing us to expand into other areas,” he said.
Mr McArthur said he had fielded numerous inquiries from farmers well outside the district who were looking to expand their operations in the Gunnedah area.
The challenge many of them face is achieving sufficient scale in the tightly controlled region. Existing farmers in the district know how productive the area is and are constantly looking to grow.
Joining the spring listings, Hereford beef cattlemen Mary-Anne Rossi and Ernst Weyhausen have listed one of the Upper Murray’s leading rural operations, Woonoona, which will go up for auction online October 12.
Price expectations are between $11 million and $13 million for the 375 hectare property located at 5180 Tooma Road, Greg Greg, between Tumbarumba and Corryong on the NSW-Victorian border.
Woonoona is offered as a single line or as three separate assets by Sam Triggs and Richie Inglis of Inglis Rural Property in conjunction with Henry Mackinnon of Elders Albury.
“Farmland in Upper Murray is hotly contested in today’s market, with land values now reaching $27,000 per ha to $35,000 per ha. Woonoona is a prime example of the region’s inherently productive force,” Mr. Triggs said.
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