IN THIS week’s review, rural property specialists from across Queensland give their thoughts on the remainder of the selling year.
For most, listings are starting to slow as conditions in many area dry-off dramatically (see latest Drought Declaration map below), with many sales being conducted behind the scenes and potential vendors waiting for early summer storm rains. As of 8 August, 64.7pc of Queensland – more or less the southern half of the state – was officially drought declared.
Charters Towers, North Queensland
Henry Slaney from Slaney & Co in Charters Towers believes any current rural property listings in his area are exit, not replacement, strategies.
“Producers selling up are mostly leaving the industry or involved in succession planning. Others are investors winding up their portfolios. These people are not selling a property to turn around and buy another one,” Mr Slaney said.
He thought the current market is being constrained by fear.
“Those seeking an opportunity to update their properties are reluctant sellers – fearing they won’t be able to replace it. In other words, if they sell what they have, they may not be able to replace it with something better or larger, of equal value.”
Mr Slaney believes most producers will seek to list after they have received some wet season rain, with the firmer cattle market encouraging many to hold fast rather than exit.
“I am confident a wet season will flush out a new crop of places, despite an adjustment in the cattle market. Everyone is on the front foot looking to expand, particularly in the sub-$15 million price bracket.”
Rockhampton, Central Queensland
Richard Brosnan owns and operates Ray White Rural Rockhampton. He said it had been an unusual year for the region with a run of large-scale property listings and sales.
- In June, the 28,000ha Kaiuroo Aggregation in Central Queensland’s highly regarded Mackenzie River district was listed for sale with expectations above $55 million.
- In August, THF Finance decided to divest its 21,900ha Central Queensland beef cattle and irrigated fodder portfolio spanning five properties in the Fitzroy Basin, west of Rockhampton.
- In September, a Central Queensland family seeking expansion paid more than $15m bare for the 6268ha Slatey Creek, a productive Central Highlands breeder or backgrounder operation running 1500 head of cattle.
Mr Brosnan said the tables had turned – ten years ago, listings exceeded buyers, while today demand was outstripping supply.
“There is a strong desire from CQ families to expand locally, in a bracket between $10 million and $12 million, but buyers are being selective and seeking realistic values. They accept that property prices are strong, but they are not willing to pay silly money.”
Mr Brosnan said Central Queensland was usually a reliable rainfall region, however the area from Innisfail to Rockhampton and west towards Moura was ‘very ordinary’ at present, with many western areas experiencing a better winter and subsequently, better conditions.
While there may be one or two listings in the coming months, many potential sellers were likely to wait for rain.
“There has been a change in the weather over the last three to four weeks – it is hotter, windier and the country is drying out. Prior to that, there was still a bit of life in the grass. For top dollar, producers expect a good body of feed.”
He said many producers were busy with their second weaning, as well as buying and selling cattle.
“Potentially, it will be a quiet lead up to December. However, those who are considering selling now should do so in the next three to four weeks before the distractions of holidays, Christmas and the New Year.”
Blackall, Central Western Queensland
The season in Central Western Queensland has been mixed, with most producers waiting for a seasonal break.
Des Cuffe oversees rural property sales at the Nutrien Harcourts GDL Blackall branch.
He said a lot of country in the Augathella, Tambo and Blackall districts had changed hands this year.
“There have been plenty of over-the-fence deals, as well as off-market transactions that have made good money. Listings are presently tight and if country was available, there would be no shortage of buyers.”
Mr Cuffe said quality properties were highly sought-after.
“There is plenty of enquiry with country making between $1000/ha and $1700/ha. That’s a jump of between 60 and 70 percent over the past 18 months. Many producers who have money and are poised to buy are being driven by the fear of missing out (FOMO).”
Mr Cuffe believes listings will remain tight until after the rain next year.
“There is an older generation considering its options – to exit or to hang-on and take advantage of livestock prices. A reasonable season this summer may entice them to sell up,” he said
Winton, Western Queensland
Tom Brodie from Brodie Agencies said the property market in his region was quiet.
“I haven’t listed anything for a while now. I have sold all the properties on my books and have approached aging landholders who may be considering retirement.”
“Despite the high prices, none have been enticed to sell. The region is dry and many potential vendors believe it may be better to wait until the season improves.”
Mr Brodie said he had five potential buyers presently seeking quality country.
“They are looking to pay between $6 million and $10 million for around 15,000ha to 25,000ha. One is seeking a depot between his western country and the coast; one wants a sheep property; and another is a businessman seeking a development opportunity in the area.”
Mr Brodie was not anticipating any listings this year.
“Potential vendors are most likely to commit from March next year. Properties may settle as late as January, but very few will come to the market due to the heat.”
Dalby, South East Queensland
Andrew McCallum from Nutrien Harcourts GDL said while the property market in his area appeared quiet, many recent sales had been conducted off-market.
“The year has been busy. Listings have been tight with many producers taking advantage of the high commodity prices, and most transactions have occurred behind the scenes.”
Mr McCallum believes summer rain will bring more listings to the market.
“A seasonal break will deliver more options to producers looking to sell. Demand from Queensland producers is very strong and genuine buyers from New South Wales are still managing to inspect local properties despite the COVID restrictions.”
St George, Southern Queensland
Elders rural property specialist Brendan Devine has no listings at present.
“They have all been snapped-up and nothing is left. Demand is strong across the board, mostly for expansion from producers of cattle, sheep and goats, as well as from irrigators and dryland farmers.”
Mr Devine said property sales this year has been strong due to booming commodity prices, low interest rates and good autumn rain.
“Now, the region is looking for rain. The remainder of the year is likely to be quiet, with potential vendors waiting to list their properties in 2022.”
Quilpie, South West Queensland
Tony Lilburne is in charge of rural property sales at Nutrien Harcourts GDL in the far western centre of Quilpie. While it has been a busy time for livestock, he said the property market in the far west had been very quiet.
“The exceptional cattle market has resulted in a lot of movement of livestock, however the country has dried out, most of the feed has gone and the district, including the Cooper, is looking for early summer rains.”
Mr Lilburne said last year, there was a terrific run of properties, mostly due to retirement.
“It is a vast region and very tightly held country, which means properties don’t often come up for sale. I doubt any properties will be listed for sale soon, with most landholders in for the long haul.”