Property: Is there a risk of too much, too soon?

Jon Condon, 03/04/2014


The biggest surge in northern grazing property listings in five or six years continues to roll on, with a portfolio of showcase, large-scale cattle enterprises hitting the market over the past two months.

It’s not surprising, with the turnaround in seasonal fortunes in many areas, and live export cattle prices hitting all-time records above 230c/kg, after three years in the doldrums.

If ever there was going to be a surge in extensive northern cattle property listings, now was always going to be that time.

Latest aggregation to test the market is David and Judy Camm’s Natal Downs aggregation in Central Queensland, listed this week.

The Camms have built a portfolio of just under a million acres of country over the past 40 years from their Natal Downs base near Clermont (52,000ha), with the addition of large-scale breeding operation Longton, 300,000ha of mixed country near Pentland, and adjoining Narellen, a further 45,000ha of breeding country running some 2500 breeders.

Expressions of interest close on May 22, either individually or as an aggregation, with observers suggesting a price of about $60 million. Several inspections of the Natal aggregation have taken place over the past couple of months, including overseas interest.

It joins a long list of larger-scale, often showcase Queensland and Northern Territory grazing properties put to the market over the past six weeks or so.

Agricultural Investment Development Corporation, backed by a Swiss investor, secured highly regarded Kangerong Station north of Charters Towers last month for around $10 million, after a campaign set by Colliers International, while its larger neighbour to the north, Maryvale (67,200ha, also with Colliers) is on the market and is anticipated to sell for about $20 million.

Swans Lagoon (33,800ha near Ayr, Ruralco agents) sold last month for $7.2 m to local, Peter Malpass, while Labelle/Welltree southwest of Darwin sold to AA Co earlier.

Also currently jostling for attention from prospective buyers are new listings this year, including:

  • Chudleigh Park (Elders, northwest of Hughenden 182,000ha)
  • Willesley and Laurel Hills Stations at Clermont (32,000ha with CBRE) is expected to fetch around $40m.
  • The Rainbow/Leeora aggregation in the Arcadia Valley (12,600ha with CBRE)
  • Glenalvon (Topex agents, 8500ha near Richmond)
  • Springvale, via Cooktown (Landmark Harcourts/Slaney & Co, 56,000ha)
  • Mt Aldis/Sandra Downs (Bauhinia, Ruralco/Hourn & Bishop listing, 19,000ac )
  • Inga Downs (Middlemount, 11,800ha, Elders listing)
  • Braclyn Colliers International, 13,600ha, Moura)
  • Niall, Charters Towers (Colliers International 43,000ha).
  • Henbury Station in the Alice Springs district, formerly owned by R M Williams Agricultural was placed on the market with PPB Advisory.

Veteran rural property agent Dick Allpass said the volume of new northern listings, particularly for larger-scale property, had probably not been seen at this level since 2007 or 2008.

“It’s reflective of the circumstances, and there is a multitude of reasons for it,” Mr Allpass said.

“There’s a financial aspect, and obviously the seasonal turnaround has come at the right time, allowing vendors to present properties in better shape. The northern live export market recover is obviously another important factor. Behind the scenes, there’s also a lot of pressure from banks, while not being reflected in receiverships.”

“It’s a complex set of circumstances.  There is also some residual build-up of property that people may have wanted to sell earlier, but held back, in the hope of finding a rising market, as it is now,” Mr Allpass said.

“The numbers are certainly picking up. It’s a long time since we’ve seen this much northern property on the market at once. There’s a lot of other people who want to sell as well, but their motivation is not yet high enough to move into the market, just hoping something will turn up.”

Is there a risk of over-supply of these larger properties in the current buyer market however?

“It’s always a risk, when the volume of listings grows,” Mr Allpass said cautiously.

“There’s not yet a lot of evidence of a big buying panel, despite some solid recent sales. There are Chinese and European interests floating around, and most agents deal with them, but there’s very little happening in sales from these types of buyers, at this point at least.”

“Also the number of potential buyers gets thinner, the further up the price scale you go.”




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