A total of 21 pastoral holdings are currently for sale in the Northern Territory and Kimberley region, according to valuation firm Herron Todd White.
A list (below) of properties currently on the market includes 12 in the northern half of the NT, the majority of which have been on the market for more than 12 months.
Frank Peacocke from Herron Todd White in Darwin said the region was waiting for a sale to determine a new benchmark for northern property values.
Northern properties heavily focused on the live export trade were commanding around $1000/beast area when the market peaked in 2009.
The downturn in the Indonesian live export trade has since placed significant downwards pressure on northern property values, but the extent to which prices have fallen remains the big unknown. The market effectively needs a sale to provide some answers to that question.
Mr Peacocke said there has been broad market evidence that values have fallen, based on the lack of sales activity despite the presence of blue-chip properties on the market in recent years, and the number of vendors who now seem increasingly willing to ‘meet the market’ by reducing asking prices below previous expectations.
Some answers could come soon if the receivership process that commenced last week around the live-export-geared Killarney Station results in a forced sale of the property.
Killarney was passed-in for an auctioneer’s bid of $30m at auction in August last year, a result that indicated the prevailing lack of investor confidence in the market.
“Under balanced market conditions, a large cattle scale station like Killarney, which is considered to have blue-chip elements, should have had a reasonable chance of a sale,” Mr Peacocke wrote in a HTW market report just before Christmas last year.
“It appears that even large scale properties in live export dependant regions are well and truly in the midst of a buyer’s market”.
While the long-term prospects for grassfed protein production in the north remained strong – based on the reliable seasonal patterns of the north and the projected growth in Asian demand for red meat – the short-term prospects remain mired in political barriers which is fuelling high levels of uncertainty among investors right now.
As a result potential purchasers appeared to be interested only in buying at ‘bargain price levels’, Mr Peacock said, and were content to wait for a sale to confirm that the bottom of the market had actually been reached before acting.
“Why buy today if I can buy cheaper tomorrow?” summed up the prevailing buyer sentiment, he said.
One indication of where the market for live-export geared properties is at may be drawn from Brooking Springs in Fitzroy Crossing in WA, which is currently under contract for a price that suggests a significant fall from where values were at the peak.
Another property also being watched as a potential test for the market is Maryfield on the Sturt Highway near Daly Waters, which is currently under receivership.
While further declines in market conditions could see property values come under even further pressure, Mr Peacocke said the slowly increasing level of inquiry being reported as asking prices continue to fall supported a general perception that the market is “nearing the bottom”.
Most sales over the past two years have occurred in the Alice Springs region, an area dominated by private pastoral holdings which grow cattle for store and prime cattle markets in southern and eastern Australia.
The moderate activity in Central Australia compared to the very limited activity in the northern half of the NT reflected the fact that pastoral property values were becoming “more aligned to the value of production and gross revenues”, Mr Peacocke said.
Mr Peacocke also emphasised the point that a single sale will not represent the "be all and end all", and a collection of sales would be required to determine a new market level.
"As someone once said, 'one swallow does not make a summer'''.
A list of pastoral leases currently for sale in NT/Kimberley provided by Herron Todd White is as follows
1. Bunda: 1,788km². VRD
2. Bullo River: 1,627km². VRD
3. Riveren: 3,016km². VRD
4. Inverway: 2,538km². VRD
5. Killarney/Birrimba: 5,414km² VRD
6. Mountain Valley 2,813 km² Central Arnhem Region (mortgagee in possession)
7. Maryfield: 2,013 km² Sturt Plateau (mortgagee in possession)
8. Western Creek: 1,020 km² Sturt Plateau
9. Forrest Hill: 539 km² Daly Waters
10. Ban Ban: 1,873 km².. Darwin Region
11. Wyworrie: 429 km² Sturt Plateau
12. Mary River Stn: 1,345 km² Pine Creek
13. Narwietooma: 2,590 km². Central Australia
14. Mount Doreen: 7,337 km².
15. Mount Ebenezer: 1,640 km². – Central Australia
16. Maryvale: 3,244 km². – Central Australia
17. Pine Hill: 2,752km². – Central Australia
18. Horseshoe Bend: 5,936km². – Central Australia
19. Orange Creek: 2,321 km² – Central Australia
20. Brooking Springs: 1,939 km².. Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley Region (under contract)
21. Liveringa/Nerrima: 4,700 km².. Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley Region