WHILE a little bit of magic concluded the day, it was hard work and professionalism that provided the magic in the real estate and general company numbers tabled last week at Elders annual rural and lifestyle real estate conference at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle.
Elders State general manager Nick Fazekas opened proceedings by reporting on the company's recently announced outstanding year-on-year results across all sectors, including real estate in Western Australia which had seen a significant increase in turnover.
"For the second year in a row, residential outstripped rural property," Mr Fazekas said.
"That has been boosted by acquisitions, most recently of a Rockingham business which lifted our properties under management to a level which makes us the State with the largest rent roll for Elders in Australia."
Guest speaker, valuer Julian Nichols, Opteon Solutions, reinforced industry sentiment about the challenge of making valuations in the current rural property space, saying this had prompted more properties to be listed as expressions of interest.
But there remained considerable upside in properties with reliable rainfall and production, especially in the eyes of Eastern States and corporate buyers.
"WA has largely been spared the extreme weather impacts that we have seen in the Eastern States," Mr Nichols said.
"We have had some frost and rain damage issues, but not the flooding or drought seen in parts of the east.
"So for many of these corporates and other buyers, land they have purchased in WA has been some of their best performing in terms of returns and certainly in terms of returns relative to capital investment.
"Even in what has been a significantly rising market in this low interest rate environment, WA is still being viewed as being good value for money by many interstate and overseas interests.
"We are also seeing increases in lease rates that farmers who enter into new leases are having to pay.
"In general, lease rates can reflect between 2pc and 5pc of capital values, however when it comes to affordability, a lot will depend on the rapidly increasing input costs and future commodity prices."
Water licencing was another discussion item on the agenda and as Barkley Day, from BD Water, intimated "if it's not already a hot topic for ag it soon will be".
"Many of our natural groundwater aquifers in WA are overdrawn, meaning there are no more licences to be granted in those areas and there are others getting close to being oversubscribed," Mr Day said.
"The only way then to get a licence is to buy an existing one, but it should be noted trade can only take place between properties in the same groundwater sub-area and aquifer.
"And water licences do not automatically transfer with a property.
"You only have 30 days from settlement to apply to retain a licence with a property, but it should be noted that in some cases a seller may opt to retain their licence so as a property sales agent or the buyer you need to be clear of the circumstances surrounding this at the time of purchase.
"Also if there is historic non-use of your allocation, your water licence can be reclaimed."
BD Water and its Water Manager arm broker some of the largest water trading deals and licence compliance management in the State and Mr Day expected this to ramp up further in the future.
Other speakers included Byfields Business Advisers director Neil Hooper, who covered the potential minefield of succession planning if not handled professionally and well from the start and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development's Anita James, who discussed the issue of contamination and residue sites, an important factor to be considered when buying and selling property.
The conference concluded with a sundowner and entertainment from a local magician followed by dinner.