property prices are spiralling upwards and have doubled in the
past four years on the back of continuing strong demand for beef
and urban property rises.
However, beef prices have retreated from their peak because of a
flood of cattle on to the market during the past month as a
result of fears about the extending drought.
Leading property valuer Kerry Herron, founder of Herron Todd
White, said the upward trend in grazing property prices was
likely to plateau but demand would remain very strong and the
latest sales were fully firm on past benchmarks.
"This is evidenced from the hotly contested auction last month
of Kiddel Plains west of Moura at $6 million bare. It has a
carrying capacity of 1500 head, which reflects $4000 per beast
area improved," Mr Herron said.
"Certainly we at HTW have concerns when properties – admittedly
very good ones – sell for up to $4000 per beast area."
Mr Herron said the "inner circle" of pastoral properties was
overpriced relative to values in the far north and west, where
there would be stronger demand in the future despite the
He said it was notable that some of the biggest cattle companies
did not buy any of the ex-Stanbroke properties because their
analysis was that they could not make them "stack up" – the
returns were too low for their shareholders.
"But AACo bought the Delamere/Montejinni aggregation in the
northwest Northern Territory a couple of months back for just
under $500 per beast area. Although it is a remote aggregation,
it is in a reasonably reliable rainfall area and has large areas
of good Mitchell plains, and is within the live export catchment
out of Darwin. Obviously for AACo, this was a far better
Herron Todd White research in north Queensland has shown that
during the 2000-2004 period, grazing property values have risen
by 23 per cent annually, effectively doubling within four years.
Will the current prices hold up? Mr Herron said probably yes, at
least for the time being because cash flows had been strong; the
more efficient could produce more per hectare or per unit;
equity and creditworthiness had increased; finance was easily
obtained despite the recent rise, interest rates were still low;
interest was available for up to 15 years interest-only;
interest was also available at fixed rates for 10-15 years at
little higher cost and confidence in the industry was high.
"Will the bubble burst? Maybe. We have always had cycles before,
and will again. However, I doubt that we will see a spectacular
crash such as we experienced in the 1970s short of a (possible
but hopefully unlikely) major disease outbreak."
The higher rural property values are likely to lead to major
revaluations on the unimproved value of properties by the
AgForce lands spokesman John Cotter has flagged that owners
could face significant increases, from 50-400 per cent,
depending on how recently their properties have been revalued.
This will impact on local government rates and leasehold rents.
The high values are also likely to create a trend towards
leasing land and contracting out farm operations as
agribusinesses move to leverage greater economies of scale.
"We haven't seen too much of this yet, however it is starting to
happen and I foresee a big growth in leasing in the future," Mr
"With ageing farmers and graziers, whose kids are unlikely to
return to the property, a logical move would be to sell off the
plant, equipment and livestock, buy the coastal brick cottage
and lease the land."