Agents reflect on the red-hot real estate market in Western Australia

By Leah Tindale
Updated April 26 2022 - 11:14am, first published April 24 2022 - 4:00am
Westlawn on Muir Highway at Forrest Hill, had multiple offers presented and sold for $2.03m or $14,295 an effective hectare.

AS the days get shorter and the weather cools down, so too does the property market.

It's the sign that the busiest time of the year is coming to a close for sellers and buyers alike.

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But what were the highs and lows of the season and what will this mean for the market moving forward?

In the Mid West, sales of broadacre cropping land broke many records during the season.

According to Elders Real Estate Geraldton rural sales specialist Courtney Keeffe, the hottest location has been in the Shire of Northampton.

An area just north of Geraldton Elders sold eight properties for more than $40 million.

"The historic property, Oakabella at Bowes, was the highest price per arable hectare achieved, being $7619," Mr Keeffe said.

He also noted other well regarded properties which sold under the Elders banner included, 'Barellan'(3578ha) and 'Ninynook' (399ha) at Ogilvie, Oakagee Farm (711ha) at Bowes and 'Raymar' (1611ha) at East Binnu.

Where rainfall mainly has been a big driver when it came to purchasing, Mr Keeffe found lower rainfall properties also did exceptionally well, such as 'Eureka' at Devils Creek which achieved $2777 per arable hectare.

"Demand for grazing land has steadily increased as the selling season progressed, lifestyle blocks are also selling very strongly with property still being listed at this late stage," he said.

At the other end of the State there was a similar story, with land sales on mixed farming and high rainfall grazing country all being popular.

Throughout the South Coast and Great Southern including Narrikup, Forrest Hill, Pingrup, Green Range, Mettler and Gairdner, there was high interest, with properties being sold via expressions of interest.

"Farms are generally receiving multiple offers come the closing date, with two of my larger listings having nine and 10 offers respectively," said Elders Real Estate Albany rural sales specialist Simon Thomas.

"Successful family farming operations looking to expand have been the main buyer demographic, with investors and corporate entities also active.

"The appetite for rural land seems to be following a similar trend as the previous 12 months with demand a lot higher than supply."

The historic property Oakabella property at Bowes sold for a high $7619 per arable hectare. Elders has sold eight properties in the Northampton area this year.

Mr Thomas believes across the board this resulted in higher prices in each sale.

In his area he deals with a huge range of properties, including a vast difference in rainfall ranges.

The rainfall across his regions can vary from 330 millimetres to 1100mm, and as such working out an average hectare rate can prove difficult.

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With this in mind, Mr Thomas believes most sales are between $2500 and $18,500 per hectare, which he says is a significant increase from a year ago.

Some of his most interesting sales included Mettler Rd in Mettler, which had 1030 effective hectares on the property.

"The property has been in plantation and will require full remediation to get back to cropping country," Mr Thomas said.

"This sold during the spring selling season for $5.5 million or $5339.80 per effective hectare.

"The property attracted a lot of interest with multiple offers being presented to the seller."

Also of note was 'Westlawn' on Muir Highway at Forrest Hill.

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"This one was a smaller lifestyle property on 142 effective hectares," Mr Thomas said.

"It had good improvements with a large modern home.

"This property also attracted a lot of interest, with multiple offers presented and sold for $2.03m or $14,295 an effective hectare."

Heading north east, Nutrien Harcourts rural sales specialist Terry Norrish looks after the Moora and Dandaragan shires, noting it had been his most prolific season in terms of quantity of sales, with all of the harder sales being accomplished

"The whole farming region I deal in has taken a major rise in value over the last 12 months with many buyers still looking to purchase," Mr Norrish said.

"With land values going for anywhere between $2500 to $10,000 a hectare, these solid prices are up between 10 and 20 per cent compared to last year."

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For Mr Norrish said his two biggest sales are about to settle, so he was coy to disclose final figures and precise locations, but they are occurring in the Watheroo and Dandaragan areas.

When it comes to the pastoral market, this season has continued to build on the rising prices over the past two years, with the carbon market playing a significant role in driving the lift.

Elders Real Estate Rural and Metro pastoral sales specialist Greg Smith said the Kimberley was still receiving plenty of interest from established cattle producers and the corporate sector with multiple offers being received on any offerings.

"Values have remained reasonably consistent across the region with the main drivers in variation being the level of improvements and the quality of the cattle included," he said.

"There have been very few Pilbara stations sold on the open market although a number have sold off-market with varying values and in some cases values being influenced by mining access agreements as well as pastoral value."

The most interesting region according to Mr Smith was the Southern Rangelands from Meekatharra south, in an area comprised of arid shrublands and mulga country.

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There was very strong interest from investors and the corporate sector motivated by the potential carbon sequestration market.

"Some buyers have homed in on this region after their own investigations, satellite mapping and computer modelling showed the Murchison and Goldfields areas as capable of sequestering commercial quantities of carbon through changed management practices," Mr Smith said.

"Prices being paid in this region for properties that qualify for a carbon project or have the potential to qualify can be much higher than producers who are assessing a station purely on carrying capacity and the quality of improvements."

As a result Mr Smith still has a long list of buyers looking for properties with carbon potential or with carbon projects already established.

"I would suggest the next couple of years may provide an opportunistic window to sell at a very strong price," he said.

With multiple offers set to continue per property and carbon farming only just starting to ramp up as another viable income stream, it's looks to be a safe bet that Mr Smith's prediction may well be the case not just for the pastoral region but across the State.

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